New or old, your car almost inevitably gets put through a lot of use, either by you or by numerous friends and family. The possibility of spilled coffee, mud, greasy food and so many other things is always there, and the stains that also inevitably emerge from these accidents.
Fortunately, your once clean seats don’t have to lose their look just because of a sloppy spill or more over the years. You can clean and detail them quite thoroughly without even having to hire a professional seat cleaning company in the process. So if you’re wondering how to remove stains from car seats, read on!
An Ounce of Prevention
First and most basic, there’s prevention. You can do several things that won’t completely eliminate the threat of stained car seats, but will at least reduce the possibility of them. One of these is a simple policy of no drinking or eating in your car. However likely you are to actually make this rule work if you’re giving rides to lots of friends or have a family to move around, applying it strictly will go a long way towards keeping your car clean.
Secondly, you can buy car seat covers in numerous shapes, sizes and designs for the sake of minimizing the creation of permanent stains on your seats themselves. Those seat covers may still need to be cleaned periodically, but at least any stains that are simply impossible to remove by themselves can still be eliminated by replacing a cover.
Many car seat stains form not so much because something spills onto the seat but because it remains there to be squished and spread around repeatedly by others. Using a vacuum cleaner or small brush and dust pan to clean the interior of your car periodically will let you keep these stain creating messes from getting worse. Focus especially on quickly getting rid of loose dry crumbs from greasy food and bits of dirt or mud that haven’t been crushed into the fabric of your seats quite yet.
The Magic of Baking Soda
Useful for so many things in the kitchen and out of it, baking soda is also a wonderful cleaning agent/deodorizer. By applying it to car seats, this widely available, extremely cheap powder can be used to fight small, particularly visible stains after first being mixed at a ratio of ¼ volume of baking soda in a cup of warm water.
Using a tooth brush, you can then apply the liquid mix to the stain, brush it in vigorously in a circular motion and repeat until the seat is clean. Clean the same spot afterwards with a bit of ordinary water and pat dry. If the stain is particularly ingrained, apply the baking soda mix and leave it in for an hour before scrubbing it off.
Vinegar may smell less than pleasant, but this mild food-grade acid is also a wonderful cleaning agent for many things. Mix a cup of vinegar into a gallon of warm water and add in a spoonful of liquid dish soap. You can then apply this mixture onto your seat stains in small doses, let it soak in for a few minutes and then scrub the stain away with a small soft brush.
Afterwards, just pour a small amount of simple water to the same sport and wipe dry with a cloth. Be sure to leave your windows open for a while after cleaning with vinegar; you’re probably familiar with its penetrating smell.
The Bubbly Wonders of Club Soda
Aside from being a great mixer for cocktails and party drinks, club soda also works particularly well on fabric car seats due to its internal blend of carbonated water, potassium bicarbonate and potassium citrate. In effect, it works somewhat similarly to baking soda but with some extra cleansing power.
To take advantage of this fizzy liquid for your car, simply pour some club soda into a spray bottle and apply it to seat stains. Afterwards, scrub the affected spot with a small brush and wipe the fabric down with a water-moistened towel. It should work with moderate stains.
Laundry Detergent to the Rescue
Since we all use it all the time to get rid of brutal stains in our clothes, it’s only natural that laundry detergent might just work with the fabric of car seats too. Well, it does. You can use either a powdered or liquid detergent and simply pour about ¼ cup of it into jug containing 2 gallons of warm water.
Apply this solution in small amounts to stained areas on your seats and start scrubbing with a small brush. Afterwards, scrub the same stains with simple, chilled water and wipe them down with a moist towel. Be sure to avoid detergents with bleach, unless your seat fabric itself is white.
Getting Heavy Duty with Steam Cleaning
This is where you start to stray into professional cleaning service territory, but so what? If you need to get rid of some really nasty, widespread car seat stains, a professional steam cleaning machine will absolutely help you out. After first thoroughly vacuuming your car down to get rid of any lose crumbs or particles from the seats and all their little corners, apply your steam cleaner to the fabric.
You’ll notice the difference almost immediately and only need to leave your seats to dry for a few hours afterwards. Steam cleaning devices work so well by breaking down grime, grease and dirt with heated water vapor and then sucking the messy mixture right out of fabric weaves to leave it looking almost like new.
Cleaning Leather Seats
When it comes to leather car seats, slightly more delicate cleaning conditions apply for any stains you’re facing. One of the products above that you can use for leather is the vinegar solution for stain removal.
For stains that vinegar doesn’t get rid of, you might also try small amounts of toothpaste applied directly to the stain, gently scrubbed into it and then wiped away with moist towels. A final useful trick is to apply lemon juice and cream of tartar paste to leather car seat stains. With this solution, let the mix settle in for 30 minutes and then wipe it away with a wet sponge.
As one last note of caution, not all car seats and manufacturers are the same. If you want to know to remove stains from your specific car seat, we would also encourage you to read the manufacturer’s care instructions.