Man cleaning car seat

How to clean car seats

Your car’s seats get a lot of wear and tear, dirt, and stains over time and eventually look pretty unsightly. You could take your vehicle to a professional detailing shop and have them clean your car inside. You could even cover them with inexpensive seat covers and call it a day. Or, you could learn how to clean car seats using simple steps and readily available cleaning products from around the house. 

The first step for getting your car seats fresh and clean is to remove clothes, trash, and other items from the car for easier cleaning. Next, once you’ve cleared out any mess, you should use a car seat vacuum cleaner to remove surface dirt and dust. Vacuuming removes pet hair, debris, and other things that could get in the way of a thorough cleaning. Use a soft brush attachment to vacuum creases and the crevice tool to vacuum the tight spots. Next up is treating stains.

Car Seat Cleaners for Stains

Dirt and dust are one thing, but stains from candy, greasy food, and smoking can be a challenge. It’s important to treat stains before you clean your car seats for the best results, and a few household items can get the job done. You don’t have to worry about which car cloth seat cleaner you use, but be cautious with leather seats. Take your time and work slowly when removing stains from leather seats to avoid scratches and other damage. 

Regardless of the car seat cleaner you use for stains or cleaning, test an out-of-the-way spot to ensure color fastness. While you can buy stain removers designed for car seats, you likely already have the tools you need to remove most stains. Here are a few field-tested DIY stain removers that work well on cloth and leather car seats. 

Rubbing alcohol

Use a clean cotton ball dampened with rubbing alcohol to blot the stained area. Once the stain is gone, wipe off the alcohol with a damp cloth. 

Club soda

Dampen the stained area with club soda and use a soft nylon brush to scrub up the stain. Use a clean cloth to dry the area.   

Baking soda

Baking soda is a natural whitener and cleaner that is safe to use on leather or fabric seats. Mix  ¼ cup of baking soda with enough warm water to make a paste, then use a toothbrush to scrub it into the stain. Use a damp cloth to wipe away the baking soda residue. 

Now that you’ve tackled stains on your car seats, it’s time to give them a good cleaning. The car seat cleaners you choose will depend on whether you have cloth or leather seats. Leather requires a bit more care than fabric to keep it looking soft and supple, so avoid using harsh cleaners. 

Car Seat Cleaners for Fabrics

Most cloth car seats are made with synthetic fibers selected for their durability and ease of maintenance. While dirt and stains can imbed deeper into the fabric than leather, removing them is straightforward. Use this DIY cleaning solution and change it out when the solution gets too dirty.  

  • Mix a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of detergent. 
  • Saturate a cleaning cloth with the solution and wring it out until it’s barely damp.
  • Gently rub the cleaning solution into the seat using a circular motion.
  • Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away the soapy residue, dirt, and grime.

Work on a section at a time to prevent things from getting too wet, and let the car seats dry overnight. If your car seats are too damp, use an absorbent cloth to remove excess moisture. 

Cleaning Leather Car Seats Safely

Leather car seats are beautiful and elegant, but keeping them that way calls for mild cleaners and a light touch. While you can easily find commercial leather cleaners, Castille soap is a natural leather cleaner without harsh chemicals—better for your seats and better for you. 

  • Mix a cup of warm water and an ounce of Castile soap in a large bowl. 
  • Use a cloth dampened with the cleaning solution to wipe down the leather.
  • Don’t saturate the leather because too much water could soak into seat seams or stain the leather. 
  • Wipe the cleaning solution residue from the leather with a clean, damp cloth. 
  • Dry the leather and buff it to a shine. 

To keep your leather car seats cleaner and longer, finish up with a leather conditioner. You can either buy an over-the-counter conditioner or make your own. Mix two cups of warm water, a tablespoon of natural baby soap, and a teaspoon of vinegar. Dampen a clean cloth slightly with the solution, wipe down the leather, and let the protectant dry. 

When you’re ready to find your next used car with leather or cloth seats, count on one of Tucson’s most trusted used car dealers. See what’s new at Car Time Supercenter using this short form, or call 520-750-0505 today. 

Shane Vossough

There are good reasons people will buy their next used car in Tucson from Car Time Supercenter. But I think we are one of the most trusted used car dealerships mainly because we treat everyone like family. My family has provided quality, dependable local used cars to Tucson customers since 1984, and I'm proud to be a part of our continued success. Like many family-owned businesses, I grew up going to work with my dad. Falling in love with cars was natural because of my father's passion, and eventually, I came to love the car business just like him. I officially joined the Car Time Supercenter team in 2012, starting in the finance department. Over the past decade, I've learned the used car business and how to treat customers from my family and industry resources. Today, I oversee marketing, social media, inventory, and reconditioning, so I play an essential role in delivering local Tucson used car buyers the best experience possible. I also help our family business keep up with the times while providing old-fashioned customer service. From attending NADA classes to becoming Allstate certified for back-end products, I continue to learn and add skills to serve our customers better.