How To Clean Fabric Car Seats

Published by Jeff Torres

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How to Clean Fabric Car Seats

How To Clean Fabric Car Seats

To keep your car clean and decorated, you must know how to clean fabric car seats. Keeping the interior of your car clean will help you extend its lifespan. And besides that, we often spend a lot of time in the car, so keeping it clean is pretty important.

But keeping your car seats clean can be challenging, especially if you often use them. And as soon as you add kids and pets to the equation, the whole situation gets even messier. 

But no matter how dirty your car seats are, some tips and tricks will help you with almost everything up to the most permanent stains. And the best part is – you can do all of the work on your own without spending too much money at the car wash. So if you’re thinking about the best way how to clean fabric car seats, take a look at our guide.

How to Clean Fabric Car Seats

What You’re Going to Need

Before starting the cleaning process, you should get all your tools and supplies ready at hand if you want to avoid going back and forth and gathering everything you need one item at a time. To help you with a task, here is a list of the things you’ll need for a complete cleanse of your fabric car seats.

Equipment and tools

  • A vacuum cleaner with a hose and handy extensions
  • Spray bottle
  • Scrub brush
  • Microfiber cloths for cleaning fabric
  • Bucket


  • Upholstery cleaner
  • Non-abrasive bleach
  • Water
  • Fabric protector

How to Clean Fabric Car Seats: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Prepare the car seats for the treatment

If you often use your car to haul your kids and pets, there are probably a lot of items that will only get in your way while cleaning the car seats. Therefore, you should take the time and remove any toys or other things to make the cleaning process a lot shorter and more manageable. Once you get everything out of the way, you can start the cleaning process.

Step 2: Vacuum the seats

The first step towards clean fabric seats is vacuuming. If your seats have accumulated dust, debris, pet hair, and other solid dirt, vacuuming them on time will prevent the dirt from penetrating deeper into the fabric. Start by using the floor brush to get rid of the most robust dirt, and continue with some narrower brushes and tools that will help you get every crumb from places that are hard to reach.

When you get to tighter areas like the crevices between the seat back and bottom or any other tight seams and nooks, place the vacuum crevice attachment, and you’ll have no trouble cleaning up every last bit of dust.

Step 3: Pre-treat any stains

After the dust and dirt are removed from the seats, it should be easier to spot any stains. Carefully inspect your seats for stains, and get ready to pre-treat them before continuing with the procedure.

If you notice any food, drink, grease, or mud stains, you can add upholstery cleaner directly to the stain and gently brush it into the fabric using a scrub brush. Be careful not to apply a lot of pressure or some abrasive solutions, as that could potentially damage the fabric. After the upholstery cleaner is in place, give it some time to work and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before you continue cleaning.

To get rid of any older and more severe stains, you’ll first have to dampen the affected area slightly. Mix up dry oxygen-based bleach with a couple of drops of water, and add the paste to the stained area. Allow it to work for at least one hour, and after it is partially dry, vacuum away the powder. If the stain is persistent, repeat the process for as long as it takes.

Step 4: Apply the upholstery cleaner

After eliminating any die-hard stains, you can continue and give the entire seat proper treatment. Make sure you carefully read the instructions for your upholstery cleaner, as different products need different amounts of time to work, and some may have to be mixed with water. After you go through the product directions, we suggest you pour your upholstery cleaner into a spray bottle as the best way to apply it to the seats.

Follow the product instructions about how much of the solution you should apply to the fabric, even though you usually don’t have to over-saturate the fabric. Start spraying at the top of the seat. Make sure you spray evenly and don’t miss any spots.

How to Clean Fabric Car Seats

Step 5: Scrub the dirt

After allowing the upholstery cleaner to work its magic, you can use a scrub brush and go over every inch of the seat to scrub away all the dirt. Again, start at the top of the seat because the dirty solution will eventually start to drip down. If your brush piles up some dirt, use a bucket of water to rinse it.

Step 6: Wipe and let dry

After successfully removing all dirt from your fabric seats, you have to allow them to dry. To speed up the process, you should use a microfiber cloth and thoroughly go through the seats to wipe away the excess moisture. Once you’ve done all you can with the cloth, open up your car doors and allow the seats to air dry before using your car again.

If your seats are still damp after a couple of hours of drying, place some drying agents like moisture-absorbing crystals in the car to remove the excess moisture.

Step 7: Add a protective coating

If you want to extend the life of your fabric seats, you can do some extra work and freshen them up using a protective coating. Once the seats are completely dry, spray the protective layer, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble the next time you have to clean them.

Related: How Much PSI to Wash Car

Extra Tip: Get Car Seat Covers

If you don’t want to be bothered with questions like “how to clean fabric car seats” ever again, we suggest you save yourself some time and effort and get add-on car seat covers. They are usually pretty easy to install and remove, so you can toss them in the washing machine and let it do all the work for you.

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