How To Clean Cloth Car Seats?

As a car mechanic with over 20 years of experience, one question I often receive from customers is: How do I clean my cloth car seats? I give them simple steps like vacuuming and scrubbing off dirt.

This post outlines the entire cleaning process, and gives other ways you can employ in cleaning your car seats.

What You Need:

  • Carpet/upholstery cleaner
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Fabric protector (optional)
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Scrub brush

How to Clean Cloth Car Seats?

Here are the complete steps and materials needed.

Do these steps:


Step 1 - Vacuum.

Vacuum the seats to remove dust, dirt and pet hair. For hard to reach surfaces and corners, use the crevice tool of the vacuum cleaner. For lifting the fibers of the fabric, use the upholstery brush.


Step 2 - Stain Treatment.

Next step is to pre-treat stains:

  • Stain from mud, grease, food, or drinks – Use the scrub brush to apply upholstery cleaner on the affected spots. Let the cleaner sit on the stain for 15 minutes. 
  • Dye-based blemish – Lightly dampen the affected area and spread a mixture of oxygen-based bleach + water over it. Allow 1 full hour for the mixture to work.


Step 3 - Apply Cleaner Solution.

Apply the solution according to instructions on the product’s label. Work from the top of the seat and then to the rest of its parts. Use a spray bottle to control the amount of solution that goes to the fabric. Make sure not to soak it.


Step 4 - Scrub.

Using the scrub brush, brush away dirt by pushing the applied solution down to the seat.


Step 5 - Wipe Away Moisture.

Dry the seat using microfiber cloth. You can also lift matted fiber in this step using appropriate strokes.


Step 6 - Repeat Steps.

If unsatisfied with the result, you can always repeat the steps.


Step 7 - Drying.

If however, you already feel content with the clean look, proceed to dry the seats. Park the car in a sunny location or use a large fan to dry faster. Leave the windows of your car open.


Step 8 - Protective Coating.

Applying a protective coating is an additional protection that will keep dirt and stains from settling on the seats.

Note: Here is a video that I thought can give you a clear visual presentation of the process.

Other Ways to Clean Cloth Car Seats

Alternatively, clean car seats with these other methods using different solutions:


Method #1 - Club Pop.

Gently pour some standard soda onto the surface and use a brush to scour dirt and stain away. At that point, wipe it away with a towel.


Method #2 – Heating Soft Drink.

Blend warm water and a quarter cup of heating soft drink. Utilize a light layer of the preparation for softening stain and grime in the seats.
You can use a toothbrush to clean the stain and dirt away. In the event that the stain has not been completely removed, repeat this step and allow the arrangement to sit on the affected spot longer.


Method #3 – Clothing Cleanser.

If it happens that upholstery cleaner/cleanser is not available, you can use clothing cleanser instead. Blend it with heated water and hose the stains with it. Use a towel damped with cold water in cleaning off the seats and scouring the stain away.


Method #4 – Vinegar Blend.

Mix dish cleanser (a couple of drops), vinegar and a gallon of boiling water. Pour some amount of the blend onto the seat surface and then scour the already dirty mixture off with the use of a brush. Wash the seat with clean water.


  • The usual mantra of cleaning vehicles – start high and work lower – also applies in cleaning a car’s interior and upholstery.
  • Stubborn stains such as chocolate and blood require a specific stain-removal product. In such cases, there may be a need to call a professional service to do the cleaning of your car seats or upholstery.


  • When using cleaners, make sure that you are aware of their possible effects on other materials in your car. Avoid chemical contamination as much as possible.
  • When drying washed parts, make sure to dry completely. If left wet for a long time, these parts could get damaged, and because that also causes humidity to increase within the car, the passenger’s health can also be put to risk.


Cleaning the cloth seats of your vehicle is an easy process involving only simple steps of vacuuming, application of solution, brushing and drying, but if this is your first time cleaning your car seats and you feel nervous about doing a DIY, go to the nearest maintenance shop. They can give you a free demo.

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