Clean your car upholstery like a pro with this quick DIY guide

October 17, 2014

Is your car's upholstery in desperate need of a good cleaning? Help get rid of stains and odours with these DIY tips.
The stains and smells of of coffee spills and melted chocolate need to go. If you don’t have the time or the funds for a thorough detailing of your car, don't despair. You can still keep the upholstery looking and smelling fresh with these easy tips.

Quick cleaning tips

To restore your car's upholstery to like-new condition:

  1. Gently brush your upholstery and carpets to loosen dirt before you vacuum.
  2. Vacuum upholstery and then carefully sponge a mixture of water and ammonia on it. Don’t get the upholstery too wet.
  3. Use liquid resin (available at many craft stores) to repair any frayed carpet edges or seams in your upholstery.
  4. Keep your car’s mats looking new by waxing them with shoe wax polish.

Stain removal tips

The best stain removal advice is to clean up spills as soon as possible. Use an absorbent cloth or paper towel to sponge as much of the spill from the upholstery as possible before using any cleaners. When you apply cleaning solution, just dampen the upholstery and soak up the stain. Don’t get it wet or rub the stain deeper into the fibres.

  • For most stains, a mixture of hot water, dish detergent and white vinegar will do the trick. Apply a little on the stain and dab with a clean white towel. Don’t get the upholstery too wet or use coloured cloths which will transfer colour to the seats.
  • For really greasy stains, dab the stain with a little paint thinner using a cotton cloth.
  • For ink stains, try hairspray.
  • For vomit and blood stains, use club soda or baking soda with water. Blood stains can be a little trickier. For tough ones, try a mixture of laundry starch and cold water instead.
  • Alcohol should be cleaned up immediately with cold water.
  • For vinyl seats, apply baking soda to a damp rag and wipe clean.

Deep cleaning

If your car’s stubborn stains are resisting home remedies, you can rent or buy a steam cleaner or upholstery cleaner. Once you’ve got the stains out, spray your car's upholstery with an auto interior fabric protector. It won’t keep your coffee from spilling when you make a sharp turn, but it’ll make it easier to clean up when it does.

Deodorizing your car

How do you get that new car smell back? Clean up while you fill up. While you’re at the gas pump, do a quick pick-up of food, containers and other trash that collects in your car. Grab whatever is under the seats and in compartments. Keep cleaning wipes in your car and take a quick swipe at cup holders and other sticky spots. Still not satisfied?

  • Vacuum your car thoroughly after brushing the upholstery and carpets.
  • Keep an air freshener in your car.
  • Use a deodorizing spray on the cowl vent (just below the windshield) while the car is running and the A/C is set on its highest “fresh air” setting. Do the same with the heater running.
Clean your car upholstery like a pro with this quick DIY guide
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