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Car Carpet Cleaning Guide – Hacks, Tips, Tricks

Car carpet cleaning is not something we really think about, right? The only time we really notice it is if we drop something important like our keys or cash and have to fumble around on the floor. That’s when we find weeks-old fries, sand from the beach trip last year, and dried mud from who-knows-when! 

If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re thinking “Hm, this could look better”, we’ve got the tips to help you out! By cleaning your mats, carpets, and upholstery regularly, you can help avoid the following issues.

  • Tracking dirt and debris into your home
  • Lingering “wet” smells
  • Mold 
  • That embarrassing moment of “sorry it’s such a mess” when you unexpectedly have to give someone a ride

car carpet cleaning

How to shampoo car carpet:

First thing to do when starting your car carpet cleaning is to get rid of all the trash. Food wrappers, receipts, leaves, and even forgotten items you need can all end up on the floor of your car. Getting the trash out and items organized is your first step. Taking out the car mats at this point will help you find any hidden treasure (aka fries or coins) that were trapped underneath.

Secondly, make the shampoo or steam cleaning easier and more effective by vacuuming up any loose dirt and debris. Not only will it remove the dirt you can see, it will loosen up the dirt you can’t see, too. Check out this blog for extra car vacuuming tips and tricks. Once you’ve removed the car mats, you can shake and beat them to get as much dirt off as possible before you wash them by hand. Car mats that have ANY rubber or metal components must NOT go in a washer or dryer. 

Now that you’ve got the carpets as debris-free as possible, it’s time to shampoo!

  1. Starting in one area at a time, spray the shampoo evenly onto the carpet. Don’t oversaturate as it will take longer to dry and could cause mildew.
  2. Work the shampoo in with a stiff bristled brush, paying more attention to heavily soiled or stained areas. 
  3. Allow the shampoo to sit according to instructions, then remove excess moisture with a cloth or towel. 
  4. Leave the doors and windows open to allow the carpet to fully dry before replacing the mats.

Tip: You can get specially formulated pre-treatments for oil, tar, or particularly stubborn stains.

If you’re looking for a less labor intensive way to get cleaner carpets, you can try a car carpet cleaner machine. We assembled this list of the Best Portable Carpet Cleaners that could streamline the cleaning of your car. Once you’ve emptied the trash and vacuumed the floor, simply use one of the convenient cleaners to shampoo and remove away the hidden dirt and grime at the same time.

car carpet cleaning

How to clean car upholstery:

Cleaning the floors is only the first half of work needed to make it look and smell better. The next step is to clean the car upholstery. The seats in your car deal with a lot, including food spills, sweat, and post-beach-wet-dog smells. By shampooing or steaming your fabric car seats, you can easily get that new car feeling again. 

Just like with the floors, the first thing you need to do is vacuum any of the upholstery you want to clean. Headrests, armrests, you name it- vacuum it! This will get rid of surface dust and dirt as well as loosen up anything hidden deeper.

Luckily, cleaning fabric seats is very similar to how you’d clean your carpet. Below are some simple steps to help you get the job done.

  1. Spray shampoo evenly onto the upholstery, one section at a time
  2. Work the shampoo in with a stiff bristled brush, paying more attention to heavily soiled or stained areas. 
  3. Allow the shampoo to sit according to instructions, then remove excess moisture with a cloth or towel. 
  4. Leave the doors and windows open to allow the car to fully dry before you sit in it.

Using a carpet cleaning machine to clean your upholstery is also an option. Simply vacuum the seats as you would with a shampoo and brush method, then use the cleaning machine to take out the hard work. Make sure to allow the chairs to dry sufficiently before you sit in them. Open the doors and windows to let the moisture evaporate, and add a fan to help blow air throughout the car.

Leather seats require a different approach: no water. You can use leather cleaning wipes for cleaning spills as they happen, or use a leather cleaner and conditioner for a more intensive refresh.

Car Carpet Cleaning Conclusion:  

Keeping a car clean is not an easy task, but it is straightforward. Taking out the trash, vacuuming, and  shampooing, are easy enough for anyone  to do. When you add in specially designed vacuums like these, and portable cleaners such as these, then getting the clean car you deserve is much easier. 

FAQ Section:

Can you use car carpet shampoo on car seats?

It depends on the cleaner! Check the instructions on the back of the carpet cleaner to see if it says it’s suitable to use for your car seats. You can always test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area first to make sure.

Can you use a carpet cleaner machine on car seats?

Yes! Using a car carpet cleaner machine on a car seat as well as the carpet is a great and convenient way to clean the upholstery.

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