- Microfibre cleaning cloths
- Plastic gloves to protect your hands (optional)
- Stain remover
- Soft-bristled brush or toothbrush
- Car upholstery cleaner/shampoo
- Carpet cleaner
- Leather cleaner and conditioner for leather seats
- Glass cleaner for vinyl seats
- Spray bottles
- Baking soda (optional)
- Washing up liquid (optional)
- White vinegar (optional)
- Anti-bacterial spray or car cleaning wipes
- Car vacuum cleaner
- Lint roller (for fabric upholstery)
- Floor mats (if not already used)
How To Clean Car Upholstery – A Step-by-Step Process
Follow our step-by-step process to clean your car upholstery effectively. This includes removing stubborn stains, dirt, grime and bacteria. Regardless of whether you want a deep clean or to simply make your car look fresher, these top tips will leave your car’s interior looking immaculate.
Step 1 – Clean the dashboard
The first step to cleaning your car upholstery is to clean the dashboard. This will eliminate dirt and dust that has accumulated over time. You can simply wipe the area clean with a microfibre cloth or you can spritz a few sprays of anti-bacterial cleaner onto the surface and wipe over with a cloth. An anti-bacterial spray will help your car to smell fresher, as well as removing any bacteria from the area. If your car carries passengers, you should use a COVID-safe cleaning product. Once you’ve cleaned the dash, wipe your steering wheel over, as well as the area around your gear stick and hand brake.
Step 2 – Vacuum your car seats
The next step is to vacuum up any food particles and dirt off your seats. A small car vacuum cleaner works best here as you can move your way around the car easily. If you have fabric upholstery, use a lint roller to remove any pet hairs or pieces of fuzz. Begin vacuuming the front seats first. Make sure to get between the seat cushions to eliminate any dirt that’s hiding between gaps in the upholstery. When you’ve finished the front seats, start vacuuming the back seats. Remember to also vacuum the boot partition behind the back headrests as this area can accumulate dust.
Step 3 – Vacuum the carpet upholstery
Once your car seats are vacuumed, it’s time to vacuum the carpet upholstery. If you have car mats, remove these first. Shake them outside of your car to remove any dirt and dust. If they are carpeted mats, give them a quick vacuum to eliminate any remaining dust or dirt. You may need to remove any embedded dirt with a brush. Are there any stains on your mats? If there are, you can then use a stain remover to get rid of them. Alternatively, if there is slight discolouration, you can use car upholstery cleaner on them. If you have rubber mats, either use an anti-bacterial spray and wipe over with a cloth or use a car cleaning wipe to clean them. Rubber mats tend to be easier to clean than carpeted versions. If you don’t have any car mats consider using them to keep your carpet upholstery protected from dirty feet.
Once your car mats have been cleaned, vacuum the carpet upholstery in the front and back of your car. Remember to remove any clutter, like wrappers or rubbish, and throw these in a bin. When vacuuming, try to get as far under your front car seats as you can. When you’ve finished, you need to assess your carpet upholstery for stains or discolouration. If you notice these, use a little carpet shampoo or stain remover over the affected area. Read the instructions for use. Many products will tell you to either use a scrubbing brush or damp cloth to help work its magic. Once you’ve cleaned the area, you’ll need to leave it to air dry.
Step 4 – Clean your car seats
Begin cleaning your car upholstery with your front car seats. Depending on the products you want to use, and the type of material your car seats are made of, you’ll have several options. Here, we’re going to break it down into each one, so you know how to move forward.
Ensuring waste is dealt with correctly is essential to any business, especially as it means the workplace is clean and tidy for employees and visitors. Additionally, it helps with recycling waste. Waste across the whole of the business can include paper, canteen rubbish, and sanitary waste which needs to be disposed of correctly.
Leather upholstery requires specialist care, especially as it’s more likely to fade and age. You can purchase tailored leather upholstery kits that work well to clean them. A good tip is to also turn your car heater on as leather responds well to heat. For any stains, treat them first with a leather conditioner followed by a leather cleaner. Leave for up to 1 minute and wipe clean.
When cleaning the rest of your seats, work the cleaner into the leather with a cloth, one area at a time. If you don’t have any leather cleaner, you can simply use soap and water to remove dirt and grime. Just make sure you don’t use too much water. When you’ve finished cleaning, leave the leather to air dry naturally.
Next, apply a leather conditioner to your seats. A PH neutral, water-based conditioner is best as this won’t leave any greasy film which can transfer to your clothing. Simply apply the conditioner directly to a cloth and wipe over the leather.
For seams on your leather upholstery, use a toothbrush or soft-bristled brush to gently apply the cleaner and leave it to dry.
The good news about vinyl seats is that they tend to wipe clean with little effort. However, it’s best to use a glass cleaner on this type of material as this works effectively to remove dirt. Simply spray the cleaner onto one section of your upholstery at a time and wipe over with a cloth. Alternatively, you can use a natural solution of baking soda and water. Just mix the two ingredients together to make a paste and rub it onto your seats. Wipe with a clean cloth. Avoid using any oil-based cleaning products as these will harden the material.
For the seams, use a toothbrush or soft-bristled brush and gently scrub the area. Dirt can gather in seams very easily and it can be challenging to remove it with a cloth. Apply your glass cleaner or baking soda solution to the seams and scrub softly. This should eliminate any discolouration or grime.
There are a variety of cleaning options for fabric upholstery. Depending on your personal preferences, choose an option below to eliminate dirt, bacteria and stubborn stains.
Car upholstery cleaner or shampoo
The easiest option is to use a car upholstery cleaner or shampoo. You can find these cleaners in most supermarkets. However, they are formulated with harsh cleaning chemicals. Just follow the instructions and leave to dry. If you have any stubborn stains, you can use a stain remover, such as Dr Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover. Apply this product to the affected area. Leave for a couple of minutes and wipe over with a damp cloth. Leave to air dry naturally.
Washing up liquid
Alternatively, you can make your own natural cleaner from washing up liquid. Mix 1 part washing up liquid with 1 part water and add to an empty spray bottle. Apply the solution to your car upholstery and rub gently with a soft-bristled brush. Apply a damp cloth with warm water and wipe over. Leave to dry.
If you’re searching for a professional solution, you can rent a steam cleaner. This tool is highly effective for deep cleaning your upholstery. Many hardware stores offer these to rent for an hourly rate. While it’s more expensive than using a product cleaner, it will provide a thorough clean which is great if your seats are extremely dirty. The steam cleaner may come with a professional cleaning solution. However, you can use a natural method by mixing 1 part water with 1 part of white vinegar.
Step 5 – Clean your boot
Once your seats are cleaned, clear out your boot. This space can become messy quite quickly, so it helps to keep it as free from clutter as possible. Remove any items from your boot and vacuum the area. If you have any pets, you may need to use a lint roller to eliminate any hairs.
Check the area for stains. You can use a stain remover to spot clean any stubborn stains. Alternatively, if you have any embedded dirt, use a soft-bristle brush to scrub it away.
Step 6 – Air freshen and maintenance
Now your car upholstery is clean, it’s time to add a couple of air fresheners to provide a pleasant smelling aroma. Maintain your clean car by frequently removing any rubbish and giving your dashboard a quick wipe over.
Now you know how to clean car upholstery effectively, you can put these simple steps into action. Keeping your car clean can seem like an exhaustive process but a fresh interior will make you enjoy driving much more. Just remember to maintain your car’s interior by following our top tips at least once per month.