A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean Your Car Seats

Considering the many hours we spend driving, our car seats endure a lot – from coffee spills to dirty shoes and everything else that happens during our travels. It’s no wonder that keeping your car seats clean and comfortable is essential for a truly enjoyable driving experience.

At Driving Press, we understand the value of a pristine car interior, which is why we’re here to help you discover a thorough step-by-step guide on how to clean your car seats. Our objective is to equip you with the knowledge and expertise needed to transform your car’s interior into a spotless one.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll not only learn expert tips and techniques for maintaining a spotless and comfortable interior but also understand why it matters.

So, fasten your seatbelt and get ready to revamp your ride!

Why Clean Car Seats Matter?

How to Clean Your Car Seats

1. Hygiene: Clean car seats contribute to a healthier environment inside your vehicle. Over time, dirt, food crumbs, and spilled liquids can create a breeding ground for bacteria and allergens. Regular cleaning helps prevent these health hazards and ensures you and your passengers breathe cleaner air during your journeys.

2. Aesthetics: First impressions matter, even inside your car.  Clean seats not only make your car look better but also give you a sense of pride in your ride.

3. Vehicle Resale Value: Well-maintained and clean car seats can significantly boost your vehicle’s resale value. Potential buyers or dealers are more likely to offer a better price for a car that looks and feels well-cared for.

Prepare for Cleaning

Before you dive into the task of cleaning your car seats, there are crucial preparations to consider.

1. Remove Clutter: One of the first things you should do is declutter your car interior. This step is more than just tidying up; it’s essential for hassle-free cleaning.

2. Disconnect the Car Battery: Some car seat cleaning tasks may require moving the seats or accessing areas under them. Disconnecting the car battery reduces the risk of accidental airbag deployment or electrical mishaps during this process. Consult your vehicle’s manual for instructions on safely disconnecting and reconnecting the battery.

3. Ventilation: If you’re using cleaning products with strong odors or fumes, ensure adequate ventilation in your car. Open the windows or doors to allow fresh air to circulate, especially if you’re cleaning in an enclosed space like a garage.

Vacuuming and Dusting

1. Start from the Top:

Begin your vacuuming and dusting process by working from the top of your car interior and gradually moving downward.

Here are the steps to take:

  • Use a soft brush attachment or a microfiber cloth to gently dust the ceiling and sun visors.
  • Dust the upper dashboard and any control surfaces carefully.
  • Move to the car seats and seatbacks. Begin by using the brush attachment to remove loose dirt and dust. Start at the headrest and work your way down the backrest and seat cushion.

2. Pay Attention to Tight Spaces: Your vacuum cleaner comes with various attachments to help you reach tight spaces and corners effectively:

  • Use the crevice tool to clean between the seats, in seatbelt buckles, and along the edges of the seats.
  • For fabric seats, switch to the upholstery brush attachment. This attachment is designed to agitate and dislodge embedded dirt and debris from the fabric.
  • Don’t forget to vacuum the seat tracks, as dirt and debris tend to accumulate there.

3. Floor and Carpeting: After finishing with the seats, move on to the floor and carpeting. Vacuum the footwells, under the seats, and the carpeted areas thoroughly. Pay attention to floor mats, which can trap a significant amount of dirt.

4. Center Console and Cupholders: Finally, vacuum the center console and cupholders. Use the appropriate attachments to clean these often-overlooked areas.

Treating Stains and Spills

For Coffee Stains:

  • Blot the stain immediately with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. Avoid rubbing, as this can spread the stain.
  • Mix a solution of mild dish soap and water. Dampen a clean cloth with this solution and gently blot the stain. Rinse and repeat until the stain disappears.
  • If the stain persists, you can try a specialized upholstery stain remover designed for coffee stains. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

For Oil Stains:

  • Blot the oil stain with a paper towel or cloth to soak up as much oil as possible. Avoid rubbing to prevent spreading.
  • Apply a small amount of baking soda or cornstarch to the stain. These substances can help absorb the oil.
  • Let it sit for 15-30 minutes, then vacuum or brush away the baking soda or cornstarch.
  • If a residue remains, you can use a degreaser or a fabric-safe oil stain remover. Follow the product instructions and blot gently.

For Pet Messes:

  • Act quickly to remove as much of the mess as possible with paper towels or disposable gloves. Do not rub the mess into the fabric.
  • Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Dab the area that’s affected by the issue with this solution. This will help make any bad smells less strong or even go away.
  • After the area has dried, apply a pet-specific stain and odor remover. Follow the product instructions for thorough cleaning.
  • If the odor persists, consider using an enzyme-based cleaner designed to break down organic stains and odors.

Deep Cleaning Car Seats

For Fabric Seats:

  • Choose an appropriate upholstery cleaner designed for your type of fabric. Always test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area of your car seats to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration or damage.
  • Spray the upholstery cleaner evenly onto the soiled or stained areas of the seat. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the usage of the product.
  • Allow the cleaner to sit for the recommended time specified by the product’s instructions. This time allows the cleaner to break down stains and dirt.
  • After applying the cleaner, use a soft brush with gentle bristles to scrub the fabric. Work in a circular motion, focusing on stained or soiled areas. Be careful not to scrub too vigorously, as this may damage the fabric.
  • Use a clean, damp microfiber cloth to gently blot and lift away the cleaner along with the loosened dirt and stains. Continue blotting until the cloth no longer shows dirt transfer.

For Leather Seats:

  • Select a leather cleaner specifically formulated for automotive use.
  • Apply the leather cleaner to a clean, soft cloth or sponge. Avoid applying it directly to the leather to prevent oversaturation.
  • Gently rub the leather cleaner-soaked cloth or sponge onto the leather surface. Use a circular movement to rub the cleaner into the leather. Make sure to focus more on spots with stains or where dirt has collected.
  • It’s important not to scrub too aggressively. Leather is a delicate material, and excessive force can cause damage.
  • Once you’ve cleaned the entire seat, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away the excess cleaner and any loosened dirt or stains.
  • Optionally, apply a leather conditioner to keep the leather supple and prevent cracking. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the conditioner’s application.

Rinsing and Drying

  • Start by dampening a clean, white cloth with water (avoid soaking it) or use a damp microfiber cloth.
  • Gently blot the previously cleaned areas to remove any cleaning residues, soap, or stains that may remain on the seats.
  • Repeat the blotting process several times, ensuring you remove all traces of the cleaning solution.
  • Allow the seats to air dry completely.


Remember that maintaining a clean and comfortable car interior isn’t just about appearances; it contributes to your well-being, the longevity of your vehicle, and even its resale value. By following the expert tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can enjoy a comfortable and clean driving experience every time you hit the road.

Looking for more car tips?

Check out our Car Secrets page.

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