How to Clean Cloth Car Seats

Published by Jeff Torres

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How to Clean Cloth Car Seats

How to Clean Cloth Car Seats

We spent a significant portion of the day in our cars. We sometimes eat and drink there and haul pets, kids, and all of their gear with us. As a result of that lifestyle, the car’s interior can get messy, and the car seats can get pretty dirty. The good news is that almost all the permanent stains can be removed, except waterproof marker ink or scorch marks.

In our article, we will explain how to clean cloth car seats, give them back the shine, and make them look and smell better. You can always protect the seats or hide the damage with car seat covers, but if you are one of those people who like the car and its interior clean and in its original form, keep reading. 

The reality is our car is our second home on wheels meaning it quickly becomes the catch-all spot for toys, bottles, wrappers, and anything else that you can think of. Even if you don’t plan on taking the family on the road trip, giving a nice shine and profoundly cleaning the car’s interior is always a good idea and can also maximize space for sports accessories, groceries, and anything you like. 

How to Clean Cloth Car Seats

How Often to Clean Cloth Car Seats?

It may seem overwhelming and tedious, but cleaning your car at home can be more convenient and affordable than a professional. When the mess starts to get out of control, you need to follow our guide, which should be described as expert-approved, and deeply clean your car’s interior, seats, etc. 

In a best-case scenario, your cloth seats in the car should be vacuumed weekly together with the car’s mats. This also allows you to notice any new fresh stains and quickly remove them. A little more thorough cleaning of the seats can be done once a month or depending on how much you actually use your car. 

What Will You Need to Clean the Cloth Car Seats?

When it comes to tools and equipment, you will need:

  • A vacuum with a hose, upholstery brush, and a crevice tool
  • Stiff-bristled scrub brush
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Bucket
  • Sponge

And the materials that you are going to need:

  • Upholstery cleaner and commercial carpet
  • Preferably oxygen-based bleach
  • Water
  • Fabric protector (not necessary)

Instructions on How to Clean Cloth Car Seats

Vacuum the seats

When you are ready to clean your cloth car seats, the first thing you need to do is vacuum the fabric. This will remove any debris, pet hair, or dust and will prevent you from pushing it deeper into the seat padding. This is the time to use the crevice tool and reach between the back and the seat. Afterward, use the upholstery brush to help you lift the fibers from the fabric. 

Pre-remove stains

If you notice some specific stains on your seats, you will get better results by pre-treating them before you do an overall cleaning of the seats. If the stains are from grease, food, drinks, or mud, simply use the upholstery cleaner directly on the stains and scrub with the brush. This should only take 15 minutes to half an hour before you do an overall cleaning.

In case of dye-based stains that bled or transferred color onto the seats, you need to dampen the area lightly. This can be done by mixing dry oxygen-based bleach and a couple of drops of water. Again, using the brush, spread the mixture over the stained area and let it sit for about an hour. Vacuum away the powder and repeat the process as much as you need. 

Apply the upholstery cleaner solution

Depending on which cleaner you purchased, you may have to mix the cleaning solution with warm water. To be exactly sure, we recommend that you follow the instructions on the label of how much cleaning solution you should use for a gallon of water. The best way to apply the cleaner is a spray bottle simply because it lets you control the amount of solution that goes on the fabric. You should lightly spray the entire sea, and preferably you can start at the top. There is no need to super-saturate the fabric. 

Read More: How To Clean Leather Car Seats

Scrub away the dirt

After spraying it on the seat, you should use a scrub brush to work in the cleaning solution. It would be best if you went over every inch of the seat, and by starting from the top, you can allow the dirty solution to drip down. As your scrub brush becomes soiled, you need to rinse it in a bucket of clean water. In addition, give it a shake to remove any excess moisture. 

Repeat all the steps if needed

If the upholstery still looks soiled, you should repeat all the steps. If the upholstery has never been cleaned before and is really dirty, you will get better results by repeating the process several times to remove layers of grime. 

Allow the seats to dry

Before using the car, you should give the seats some time to dry completely. This can usually take two to three hours, depending on the weather. If you need to use the car sooner, you can speed up the whole drying process by getting a large fan and blowing it toward the seats. You can also park the car in the sunniest location, and the seats will dry in no time. 

Add a protective coating

Now that we covered all the steps required and answered your question on how to clean cloth car seats, here is a little extra that you can do. After all the work is done and the seats look fresh and clean, you can use a spray-on fabric protector that helps prevent stains and dirt from settling into the fabric. This will make your interior look much fresher and will make the cleaning process much easier next time. 

Also Read: How To Clean Fabric Car Seats


Hopefully, you have your answer on how to clean cloth car seats. We tried our best to be as informative and straightforward as possible in our article. The cleaning process is more convenient and affordable if you do it yourself and doesn’t necessarily require a professional. Follow our guide and make the interior of your car unrecognizable.

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