Cleaning Guides

How to Clean Car Upholstery – DIY Methods for Quick Results

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Imagine your car had a magical way of stopping the dog from leaving muddy paw marks all over the seats after a walk. Wouldn’t it be great? Well, you can’t really avoid seat stains, but there are many simple ways to get rid of them.

And, if you have the extra energy, you can use the same methods to take car interior cleaning to the next level and tackle the dashboard cover and the inside of your car’s doors! Who would’ve thought that the process is so simple? If you want to learn how to clean car upholstery the easy way, keep on reading – this post has all the answers!

What car upholstery cleaning supplies you need

Here is a list of the tools and solutions you can use to clean car seat or door upholstery:

  • A vacuum cleaner – A definite staple in car seat hygiene!
  • A microfibre cloth – You will need something to soak up the cleaning solution after you finish the process. A microfibre cloth is the best choice for car upholstery, but if you don’t have one, a towel will also do the job.
  • A soft brush – If you don’t have a soft brush, you can always use a toothbrush as a substitute. However, a toothbrush is quite smaller, so you will have to spend more time rubbing!
  • A spray bottle (optional) – Of course, you don’t absolutely need one, but it can make it easier to spray cleaning solutions over your car seats.
  • Laundry detergent – In a perfect world, you’d use a specific upholstery cleaner, but who has the time for that? Laundry detergent is the next best thing – and it’s available in every household! Mix a few tablespoons of laundry detergent with warm water, and you’re ready to go!
  • Baking soda (substitute cleaning solution) – An average baking soda solution consists of one part baking soda mixed with four parts water. A quick and easy fix to help you lift stains and remove odours from non-leather surfaces. 
  • Vinegar and dish soap (another substitute cleaning solution) – You can make a vinegar cleaning solution for your car upholstery by mixing one part vinegar with ten parts warm water and a few drops of dish soap. It’s a solid choice to help you fight coffee, tea, or food grease stains off your car seats!
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How to clean fabric car seats

Nylon and polyester are among the most common car seat materials. They are affordable, easy to maintain, and don’t retain heat, so you don’t have to worry about driving uncomfortably in hot weather. Here is how to give your fabric car seats a quick clean:

Cleaning cloth car seats

Remove any sort of clutter from the seat and thump it. You don’t want any garbage lying around.


Use the vacuum cleaner, pressing it firmly down onto the seats. You’re aiming to get rid of as much dirt as possible when vacuuming.


Spray your cleaning solution on the visible stains first, then cover the rest of the seat. You can spray some extra solution on the stains at this point.


Give the solution a few minutes so it can work its magic before you start rubbing the stains away.


Take your soft brush (or toothbrush) and start rubbing the stains, then move on to the rest of the seat.


Soak up the cleaning solution with your microfibre cloth (or a towel) until it feels slightly damp, then let the seat dry.

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How to clean vinyl car seats

Vinyl is one of the best car seat materials when it comes to car hygiene. It resembles leather, but it’s a lot cheaper and it doesn’t retain dirt at all because the material itself is not porous. That makes it pretty easy to clean.

You can spray a cleaning solution and rub your seats with a brush to remove tougher stains, but in most cases, you can clean vinyl seats with nothing but a damp towel!

How to clean leather car seats

When it comes to cleaning leather car seats, you should exercise caution. Leather is a higher-quality material and is easier to damage. The best option would be to get a specific detergent for leather upholstery, but as homemade ideas go – laundry detergent is your safest bet.

It is not advisable to use a baking soda or vinegar solution for leather car upholstery because they can ruin the material. Baking soda, in particular, is pretty abrasive and can damage your leather car seats. If you decide to use these anyway, make sure to apply them in small amounts and start rubbing them lightly right away.

Here is how to clean leather car seats with a laundry detergent solution:

  1. Declutter and vacuum the seat.
  2. Spray your cleaning solution.
  3. Let rest for a few minutes.
  4. Rub the seat with a soft brush.
  5. Use a microfiber cloth to dry the seat.

Should you also choose to take leather upholstery cleaning further, you can always apply a leather conditioner after you finish fighting stains. It will help prolong the material’s life, reduce cracks and wrinkling, and give your seats that “sparkly” look.

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How to clean car roof lining

In most cases, car roofs get replaced when they get saggy, so people tend to ignore them when it’s time to clean the upholstery. The tricky part about cleaning car roofs is that you have to be careful not to use too much cleaning solution as you can easily ruin the foam backing.

A spray bottle can do a great job here because it applies cleaning solutions in thin layers. More often than not, we have to clean our cars’ roofs because of an accidental spill, not due to regular usage staining. Depending on the material, you can apply one of the methods above.

How to easily maintain your car’s hygiene

After you finish cleaning your car’s interior, you should ask yourself: “How can I avoid having to do this so often?”. The answer is simple: keep in mind the most common offenders to car hygiene: coffee/tea, food, pets, etc. Once you do that, preparation is easy – invest in a quality cup holder to reduce the risk of spills. Put a small blanket in one of the car seat back pockets so your pets have a comfy area to rest in while you drive them.

Of course, nobody is perfect, and stains are hard to avoid, but regular maintenance can be easier than you think! Just throw a pack of baby wipes in the glove compartment. You can do a quick weekly scrub to maintain your car hygiene. Baby wipes are also a good choice for your car’s dashboard cover and the inside of the doors. However, if you face tough stains, it would be better to apply one of the more sophisticated methods above or get an experienced upholstery cleaner to do the job for you.


  • Leather is sensitive to baking soda and vinegar. Be cautious if using them.
  • Vinyl is the easiest upholstery material to clean.
  • A spray bottle is always better than pouring a cleaning solution directly onto the fabric.
  • Don’t get your car’s roof soaking wet, as it can ruin the backing.
  • Baby wipes are a good option for maintaining car hygiene.

Don’t let stains ruin your auto-vanity!

Call a Fantastic professional today and say goodbye to those pesky stains!

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Oliver Jane
Oliver Jane
1 year ago

What kind of stain you have will determine the best method for cleaning cloth car seats. In general, commercial cleaners or homemade remedies like vinegar mixtures can remove stains from cloth car seats.

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