If you are new to car care and maintenance, you may not yet know how to get stains out of car seats. But do not worry! We are here to help. All the steps for getting stains out of car seats are listed in this article.
To summarize, they are:
- Pre-treat the upholstery
- Apply a cleaner
- Let it dry
We will explain each of the steps that you must take to remove stains from car seats in more detail below. So, continue to read!
Table of Contents
What You Will Need to Clean Stains Out of Car Seats
- Containers/Spray Bottles
- Car Seat Cleaner (Store-Bought or Homemade)
- Paper Towels
- Microfiber Cloths or Towels
- Steamer (Optional)
- Carpet Cleaning Machine (Optional)
How to Get Stains Out of Car Seats
Now that you have all the materials you need, read the steps below carefully and follow along.
Step 1: Pre-treat the upholstery
This will prepare the upholstery for deep cleaning in later steps. Remove any loose dust, dirt, and sand from the interiors of your vehicle with the help of a vacuum. Clean thoroughly, especially the upholstery, to lighten its layers. Also, do not forget to run across the seams and crevices.
For this, it is best to use a lightweight, handheld, and cordless vacuum with a stiff brush attachment. However, you can also use a traditional vacuum if it is readily available. Only proceed to the next step once all the visible solid residue is gone.
Step 2: Apply a cleaner
This is where the bulk of the action happens. You will have to apply a cleaner to work the stain out of your vehicle’s upholstery. Here are a few options that you can consider:
Car Seat Remover or Car Seat Stain Remover
There are commercial-made products for stain treating in the market. You can get ones under $25 and ones above $50, depending on your budget. However, keep in mind that high prices do not always entail high quality. When choosing a product, there are a few factors that you should check.
- Colorfastness: This refers to whether the cleaner will cause the dyes of your upholstery to run or bleed. Obviously, you do not want this to happen. Therefore, pay close attention to the formula! Look for ones that are eco-friendly and biodegradable—these are most often without harsh chemicals.
- Application: This refers to the techniques and methods that you have to take. Make sure your product of choice includes a detailed manual with directions that are simple to follow. The design of the container will also play a part. The best ones are ergonomic and feature easy-to-press nozzles.
- Brand: This is another aspect worth noting. A good brand’s reputation does not happen magically or overnight. There are always solid reasons, like consistently quality products and customer satisfaction. Most named brands also offer warranties. Thus, at the very least, buying from a known brand will give you peace of mind.
Once you have a reliable product, apply it to your upholstery as guided in the product’s descriptions. Typically, you spray the solution directly onto the surface needing treatment, let it settle for three to five minutes, and blot it dry to complete.
However, there can be deviations from product to product. For example, some solutions will require you to dilute it with water first. Just follow the instructions word by word because after all, the manufacturers know their products best.
- Vinegar, Water, Mild Soap
As the name suggests, this homemade solution is a mixture of vinegar, water, and mild soap. This is effective and generally less expensive than store-bought cleaners. In addition, you can easily find the materials for this at home.
First, in a container, mix the vinegar and water with a ratio of 1:2, respectively. Second, add a tablespoon of mild soap. You can also use dish soap. Third, transfer the solution into a spray bottle.
Top Tip: Use a funnel to make the transferring process easy.
Fourth, cap the bottle tightly and shake it to mix all three ingredients well.
Now, you can spray the solution onto the stain. Be careful not to oversaturate the area. Wait at least 3 minutes for it to seep into the car seats, then scrub it gently with a soft-bristle brush. Use up-and-down or side-to-side motions. Make sure that you do this diligently and meticulously.
However, be mindful of applying just enough force. Do not press down too hard and force the stain deeper into the upholstery. The scrubbing stage can take longer than 10 minutes depending on the severity of the stain. So, be patient.
Next, wet the paper towels that you have prepared and use them to draw out the soapy residue. Do this in blotting motions. To complete, wipe away any remaining moisture with a fresh microfiber cloth or towel.
- Detergent & Water
This might seem like a too-good-to-be-true method given its easy steps and accessible materials. But, rest assured that it gets the job done. Mix liquid or powdered detergent with warm water in a container. You can use ordinary laundry detergent. Ones that are non-fragranced are preferred.
Apply it onto the stain and let it sink in, working its magic. However, do not oversaturate the seat. Use your brush or a fresh microfiber cloth/towel to scrub. As the stain fades, use another dampened thin cloth or paper towels to blot away excess moisture.
This is another fairly inexpensive solution that works like a charm. You will need to blend a bit of baking soda with warm water in a container to get a paste-like mixture. Apply it to the stain using a fresh soft-bristle brush.
Top Tip: For deep stains like coffee and cola, use a slightly stiffer toothbrush.
Scrub the mixture on the stain to work it out. Use circular motions and just enough force. Like the previous method, dampen paper towels for a wipe-down of excess residue.
- Club Soda
This method works excellently for lighter, subtle stains. Follow the same spray and scrub combo as the approaches above to clean car upholstery stains. Do not forget to wipe off leftover moisture with wet paper towels. It is so easy you might be able to do it with your eyes closed!
Step 3: Let it dry
Now, let the treated stains dry naturally. Open all the doors or roll down your windows for them to air dry. If you want to speed up the process, you can also use an electric fan or battery-powered fan. Place it at least a palm’s length away. Avoid using a blowdryer or other heat sources. These can bake the stain or damage the integrity of your upholstery’s construction.
If you are not a fan of tedious manual scrubbing, consider these two options:
1. Steamer Cleaner
Not everyone has the time and effort to scrub. In that case, a steam cleaner will be handy. Use a steamer in the second step, after you have vacuumed the seats. The steam cleaner is incredibly effective thanks to its suction capabilities.
It is a stress-free and time-saving approach to clean car seats stains. You will certainly appreciate the difference that it brings about. In addition to clean car seat stains, a reliable steamer will also get rid of any nasty smells.
If you do not already have a steamer at home, you can easily rent one.
For more on how to properly handle a steamer, watch this video on Youtube.
2. Carpet Cleaning Machine
Investing in a quality carpet cleaning machine can ease the task of treating stains. In particular, this method works solidly for removing stains from cloth car seats. You can choose from a wide range of options in the market.
When shopping for a machine, take into account the brand, technology, and price. For convenience, opt for ones that are lightweight and portable. Your best bet is a cordless and handheld machine.
Some good options that you can look at are those from Hoover and Bissell.
Here are a few other tips that you need to keep in mind while removing stains from car upholstery.
- Keep your hands protected
To protect your hands during cleaning and treating, always wear gloves. You can also switch for new ones anytime during the procedure if you feel like you should. Rubber gloves will be sufficient. They should be easy to find in person at any local store or virtually at e-commerce sites and online retailers.
- Clean regularly
If you only clean when you notice a stain, the interior of your vehicle is bound to deteriorate. You must have a routine and consistent cleaning schedule to maintain your car’s tip-top conditions. Remember, you can only get as much as you put into it.
So, with that, you have reached the end of this article. Now, you should know the best way to get stains out of car seats.
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My job as an automotive engineer has given me numerous chances to work with many awesome cars. My passions only grow bigger over time. So, I decided to open this space to come and share their work or experiences with us. In return, we also offer our verdict and advice on specific processes and products that relate to car purchase, maintenance, design, troubleshooting, and more.