How to Clean Fabric Car Seats (Remove All Stains at Home)

Having a car is like having a second home and the same way you want your home to be clean the same should apply to your car’s interior. Car seats occupy most of space in the car’s interior and are thus more susceptible to getting dirty faster.

To people with kids am sure you are always dealing with messes such as stains and spills. Even as adults we do eat and drink in our vehicles and later on find stains or food crumbs on the seats.

How clean cloth car seats


I don’t know how this happens, but you will find people who don’t spend much time in their cars but still get the fabric of their car seats dirty. Dust always finds its way into a car.

Importance of Cleaning Fabric Car Seats

With dirt in your car, it is not hygienic for you or even your passengers. Fabric car seats are more susceptible to absorbing dirt as compared to leather car seats.

Fabric seats with stains or spills will start stinking if not washed and also car seat fabric with dust might make you sneeze and/or cough. This is why we thought it is a good idea to teach people how to clean fabric car seats.

You may also like: Best car seat covers for winter

It is good to give your car seats a deep clean to create a livable space for you. You can as well reduce the cost of cleaning by learning how to clean fabric car seats which is quite easy to do at home. Let’s see what you can use and how you can clean them at home like a pro.

How To Clean Fabric Car Seats at Home

Items that you need to start cleaning are;

  • A bucket of clean water
  • An absorbent cloth
  • A sponge
  • Upholstery fabric cleaning detergent
  • Vacuum cleaner (optional)

Steps to cleaning fabric car seats

  1. The first step is to vacuum all corners of the seat and the body using a vacuum cleaner. This step is optional but vacuuming will help with the removal of the tiniest dirt particles, or even pet hairs which will make the cleaning easier.
  2. For more conspicuous stains you can lightly pre-damp them and give them time to soak scrubbing the area becomes easy. You can as well use some mild hydrogen peroxide to clean car seats. It works perfectly on stained fabric all you have to do is mix a third of hydrogen peroxide and two-thirds of the water in a bottle sprayer, spray then scrub gently. That is how to clean fabric car seats stains.
  3. Using a sprayer, spray the upholstery fabric detergent (I recommend Chemical Guys CWS203 Foaming Fabric Cleaner which I normally use with very good results) into every section of the seat at a time to ensure all parts of the seat are reached fully. A spray is the best to use because it will avoid too much spillage of the solution and it also more convenient.Cleaning fabric car seats
  4. Take the sponge, dip it in water, and start scrubbing the seat from top to bottom to prevent clean parts from getting dirty again. Put more effort into the stained areas and deep clean the whole seat. You don’t want to see some patches that are left uncleaned that’s the importance of cleaning the whole seat.
  5. You will notice the sponge will continue getting soiled as you scrub more and also the water will start getting dirty the more you are rinsing the sponge. Using the absorbent cloth wipe all the sections of the fabric seats. With all that done you will have your car seat fabric thoroughly cleaned. That is how to clean cloth car seats without extractor.
  6. Park your car in the sunniest place and open the doors to allow the seats to dry well enough to prevent the growth of mold.


How to clean cloth car seats without a vacuum

If you do not own a vacuum, you can still clean car seats without one and you don’t have to spend money buying so many tools. You can as well buy locally found products and work with them. This worked for me when I didn’t have a vacuum. I would use whatever is available to me and would accomplish the task.

To clean car seats without a vacuum, you need a car upholstery brush, super clean, and a microfiber. The super clean degreaser is a very strong product that should be diluted at a ratio of 16:1. Its work is magical and it removes all toughest grime, oil, or any type of dirt. It is certified cloth seat cleaner.

how to clean fabric car seats with brush

Spray the super clean solution and scrub using the brush softly to all parts of the seats and then use the microfiber to wipe on the seat.

I really know it is cumbersome but, in the end, it is a perfect hack.  The microfiber cloth will show all the dirt after wiping and you can tell the procedure was effective. The seats need time to dry off the moisture and you will see the results because it is hard to see when they are wet.

Yes, and basically that’s how you can clean your cloth car seats without a vacuum.

How to clean car seats with baking soda

The use of baking soda is another great hack to use. It is very easy to find locally because it is mostly used in most households and kitchens and others use it as a cleaning product.

When baking soda is mixed with water it can dissolve any form of stains on car seats. If you are wondering how to clean fabric car seats (especially white and other bright colors), baking soda is a very good cleaning product to consider.

To start cleaning your seats mix it with water and rub the seats using a piece of cloth. If for instance, the stains are stubborn, let the solution sit on the fabric for some time and continue with the rubbing. The cloth helps to remove any baking soda residue.

After the rubbing, you will clearly see the effect of using baking soda because all the dirt will be gone. That is how to clean fabric car seats without leaving water stains by using baking soda.

Don’t forget to keep the car seats in an open sunny place to allow them to dry completely to prevent mildew.

How to deep clean car seats

Sometimes the stains on the car seat fabric can be disturbing such that they need more scrubbing, vacuuming, and can take you much time to get rid of them. With this happening, you need to deep clean them and of course, you will need more tools and detergents to do it.

cleaning fabric car seats with vacuum extractor

In this, a steam cleaner or carpet extractor works perfectly since they deep clean the inside of the seat. I know you have an idea that spills get deep and you can’t avoid that, so after some time your seats will start stinking because of the bad smell coming from the inside.

The steam cleaner deep cleans without generating moisture and also removes mold and bacteria.  If you have been wondering how to clean black or grey cloth car seats, a vacuum or extractor is a good tool to consider.

How to clean fabric car seats with laundry detergent

Generally, laundry detergent is used for cleaning fabric and so it can be used for cloth car seats. Using a laundry detergent is much more affordable if you don’t have an upholstery cleaner.

Mix the laundry detergent in warm water and use a microfiber cloth to scrub the dirt or stains. It is easier if the seats had been vacuumed. Rinse the cloth with warm water until you have no soapy water coming through it and wipe the fabric in circular motions to remove any laundry detergent residue.

As well leave the seats to dry.

How to prevent car seats from getting dirty?

  • Vacuum the car seats more often to avoid dirt and any type of crumbs from sitting on the crevices of the seats. Since a car is used on daily basis dust also can accumulate and having dark seats such as black seats you might not be able to tell when they are dusty until you vacuum.
  • Avoid eating and drinking in your car to protect your car seats from spills or getting stained. It might seem hard not to eat in the car but slight messes just happen.
  • Cover your seats with car seat covers which are very easy to install you can actually do it on your own. It is very important especially if you have kids or are a pet person. You know pets as same like kids will play and come step on the seats with mud or dirt. However, there are some very good car seat covers for dogs and other pets in the market.

As well you can keep couching your kids how to be careful on the car seats and as they grow it will be super easy for you to have them along.

The covers can also help you if you are transporting dirty luggage from reaching your car seat fabric.

  • Throw away any trash that is in the car. Remains can accidentally make the car seats dirty especially drink containers if they are not sealed properly and kept in a good way.
  • Aerate your car regularly to kill bacteria and to prevent mold from growing on your car seats. During the winter or rainy season, the humidity is high and your car might be damp mainly because car seats will retain moisture. It also helps to keep away bad odor from your car’s interior.

So that is all about the tips you can use to prevent the fabric of your car seats from getting dirty.


Maintaining your vehicle starts with being clean. Car seat cloth is not something to keep on changing because it is dirty but it should be properly maintained for longer life.

We have also seen how easy it is to clean fabric car seats by yourself and other ways how you can reduce the cost. Cleaning the fabric car seats should never be a worry to you.

Lewis James

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