We’ve all known the feeling: crumbs, dirt, liquid stains accumulating in our car’s surface and making our car feel dirty and unenjoyable. Fortunately for you, this doesn’t have to be your reality.

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Car cleaning and detailing isn’t just something you hire others to do. Detailing the inside of your car can easily be done in your own home or at the nearest self-service car wash station. By tidying up your car on your own, you’ll save tons of money from dealerships and auto shops which can charge a fortune.

When it comes to taking care of your car, it’s essential that you set aside some time to do it right. We’ve outlined a way you can take this matter into your own hands.

Whether you’re a DIY sort of person or want to buy specialty car cleaning products, we’ve detailed how to clean car carpet in a way that works for everyone. Furthermore, you’ll learn how to protect your car from future stains and how to keep your car clean with minimal effort.

Whatever outcome or method you’re looking for, whether it’s a quick sweep or deep clean, homemade products or store-bought, let’s get started on how you can start protecting your car’s interior.

Basics of Cleaning Car Carpet

When learning how to clean car carpet, you might be overwhelmed if this is your first time. However, the process is very simple and requires only a few materials.

The first step of cleaning your car carpet is getting all the junk out from your car. Remove everything...even the floor mats. If it can detach from the car, the best bet is to remove it so you can get all the nooks and corners of your car.

When taking out the floor mats, shake everything up, so that dirt, dust, and crumbs fall on their own. You’ll be cleaning and vacuuming the floor mats too, so you’ll want to make them as clean as possible before putting them back on your car carpets to be vacuumed.

Vacuuming Your Car

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Once everything is removed, you’ll start by running a vacuum over the carpets. This can be an issue for some whose vacuum cord stretches only a few feet and not far enough outside to reach the car. If this is the case for you, no worries. There are plenty of self-service car wash stations around the nation. These stations come fully serviced with vacuums for a small fee.

As you’re vacuuming the carpets, be sure to get under the seats. To do this efficiently, move the seat back and forth so the vacuum can reach all areas. You’d be shocked at how much dirt and dust collects under the seat in just a short period of time.

Make sure you are also keeping a sharp eye for where you’re vacuuming. Cars have all sorts of wires and compartments. While you want to make sure you vacuum all areas, be careful of any yellow tags or wires which usually indicate some connection to the airbags.

Vacuums that have a blowing feature are especially great for car cleaning. Because cars have so many small, hard to reach areas, the blowing feature on vacuums allows you to blow the dirt to a larger, more vacuum-accessible area to remove the dirt.

Carpet Brushing

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Once the vacuuming is complete, it’s now time to brush your car carpets. Many vacuums have a detachable brush component you can use to loosen the fibers in your carpet. By brushing everything carefully, you’ll bring even more trapped dirt and dust to the surface.

If you avoid brushing your car, it’s possible you’re leaving tons of dirt and dust still buried in your car. This can cause allergies and irritation while driving. Although vacuuming might make your carpets look perfect, by brushing the carpet, you’ll leave things a lot cleaner.

If you don’t have a brush on your vacuum at home, no worries, plenty of self-service car washes carry these as well. If you’re insistent on doing things at home, any hand brush will work.

Vacuum the Carpets Again

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For a second time, you’ll take your vacuum and run it over your carpets. Make sure you’re using the same meticulous care as you did the first time to get underneath the seats and in all corners.

Once you have vacuumed up the dirt that was picked up by the brush, you’ll put the floor mats back into your car. Again, make sure they are completely shaken of excess dirt before putting them back into your car. You wouldn’t want to spread more dirt onto the carpets you’ve already vacuumed twice.

When the floor mats are back in the car, vacuum them as well. This is the area that collects the most dirt out of anywhere else in your car. Be sure to pay special attention to this area and brush and vacuum until you’re sure that all the dirt is out.

Treat any Stains

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The last step to your basic car interior cleaning is to treat any visible stains in your car. There are many products that you can use to treat spots and stains in your car’s carpet. With whatever stain remover you use, be sure to carefully read the instructions, so you know how to use the product best.

Typically, stain removers are left for 5-10 minutes. Afterward, you’ll wipe up the stain remover with a scrub brush so you can get deep into that spot or stain and remove it from your car’s carpets.

Further, in this guide, we will outline some of our favorite spot cleaners and how to make a stain remover yourself for those on a budget.

Extra Stain Removal Tips

Keep in mind that all stains aren’t made equally. Some will require a lot more scrubbing and a few rounds of stain removal to get them out. Some stains require special products to get them out.

For dye stains such as lipstick or food dye, you’ll want to use a synthetic stain remover. This is the basic stain remover that can be found at many auto shops and even at the supermarket.

For stains from organic matter such as dog droppings, vomit, urine, or anything else from a human or animal’s body, it’s best to go with an odor eliminating stain remover. The stain is probably less of your worries than the terrible odor that lingers in your carpet. Odor eliminating stain removers can be found at supermarkets and pet stores.

Oil-based stains are notoriously hard to remove. Whether it’s on clothes or car carpet, these stains can feel impossible to get out sometimes. However, with the right stain remover and some patience, you can indeed get an oil stain out. We recommend a stain remover targeted at removing paint, oil, and grease. This type of stain remover can be found at most hardware shops.

For any type of stain on your carpet, stay away from peroxide-based stain removers. While peroxide is strong for getting out certain stains, the pH balance can leave even more stains in your carpet than when you started. Peroxide can cause unintended lightening and discoloring of your car carpets, replacing your stain with an even bigger eyesore.

Steps for Deep Cleaning Car Carpet

If you’re looking for a solution that does more than a basic clean of your car’s interior, take a look into these deep cleaning options. You can’t remove all dust, dirt, and stains with a vacuum and some elbow grease, sometimes you need some help from bigger tools to make a huge difference in your car’s look.

Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning is one of the most common deep-cleaning options for car carpets. This, of course, requires a steam cleaner which can be rented from auto shops.

Steam cleaners use extremely hot water to get rid of the dirt and bacteria in your car. This is a great option for people who are extra sensitive to dust who need to make sure absolutely all the dirt is out of the car’s interior.

Once you have your steam cleaner, you’ll fill it with water in accordance with the instructions. Simply put a towel over the tip of the steamer and turn on the heat. Carefully begin scrubbing the carpet and getting all hard-to-reach areas. Repeat this process until your car carpets sparkle.

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Machine Scrubbing

Machine scrubbing is a simple way to really make sure your car gets a good cleaning. It uses a machine powered buffer with a brush attached. You can adjust the speed of the buffer to get as deep of a clean as you desire.

Before using the buffer, spray down your carpets with hot water to loosen all the dirt and dust underneath the surface. Follow by spraying a basic car carpet cleaning solution onto the carpet and letting it sit for a few minutes.

When the solution is set, use your buffer to scrub all over your car carpets. To get the deepest clean, alternate the direction you’re using the buffer so you can target all areas of your car’s carpet. Repeat this all over the car until you’ve covered all interior surfaces.

Finally, use a dryer to remove as much moisture as you can from the carpets. Without this step, your car can possibly become moldy and worse off than it was before.

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DIY Solutions to Car Carpet Cleaning and Stain Removal

Whether you’re on a tight budget or just don’t want to expose yourself and your car to harsh chemicals, do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions to car carpet cleaning products is a great option.

Many DIY solutions have proven to be just as effective, if not more, than leading carpet cleaners and stain removers. With a couple of household items, you too can be cleaning your car in a natural and budget-friendly way. Listed below, we’ve discussed how you can make your own DIY carpet cleaning and stain removal products from your car.

The Basic Car-Cleaner Recipe

Ingredients: One cup of club soda, half a cup of dish soap and one cup of vinegar combined

How it’s Used: After you’ve mixed all the ingredients into a large spray bottle, begin spraying the solution all over your car carpets. Allow it to sit for a couple of minutes before scrubbing the solution with a scrub brush in small, circular movements. When finished, use a steamer or sprays of warm water to rinse the seats when finished.

The At-Home Car Carpet Cleaner Recipe

Ingredients: Three tablespoons of crushed soap, two tablespoons of sodium borate, a few drops of scented natural oils, and two cups of boiled water combined into a mixture

How it’s Used: This car carpet cleaner is heavy duty for a DIY product. It’s great to use during the winter when your car interior is at its worst shape. Once you’ve combined all the ingredients into a foamy mixture, use a scrub brush to put the solution onto the carpets like a shampoo. After the mixture sits for a few minutes, rinse it away from water and a clean rag.

The Car Carpet Spot Remover Recipe

Ingredients: Equal parts white vinegar and baking soda combined into a paste

How it’s Used: This super simple mix can be used on any type of stain, even those not on your car carpets. After you’ve formed the ingredients into a thick paste, let the paste sink into the stains. When the paste has dried, remove it with a vacuum. Be careful not to leave this mixture on too long; baking soda has lightening properties which may discolor your carpets.

Protecting from Future Stains

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It doesn’t matter if you have kids or if you’re living on your own, everyone’s car is vulnerable to stains. Instead of treating the stain after the fact, there are plenty of solutions on the market today for protecting your car’s carpets against future stains.

For car owners with fabric seats, stains can be disastrous. To mitigate the inevitable spills and stains that will reach your car’s seats and carpet over time, there are fabric protector sprays.

Fabric protector sprays create a physical barrier to grease and liquid, not allowing it to penetrate the surface. Instead, you’ll be able to easily wipe away the spills in your car.

Our Favorite Stain Protecting Products

We’ve tested some of the stain protecting products on the market today. Below are the best products we’ve come across for you to use to protect your car carpets. Most of these sprays can be bought at automotive stores on at online retailers.

Overall, this is the best fabric protecting spray we found. You simply spray your car’s interior with two coats of the spray, allowing an hour between each coat. This spray held up with coffee and soda stains, allowing the spill to easily be wiped off instead of scrubbing down with a spot remover.

Because this spray required two coats, it did run out quick and might not be ideal if you have a larger vehicle. Two coats of the spray means not as much for your money, and this spray already comes in at a higher price than many other contenders.

This stain protector works for all kinds of stains and is great if you have kids that habitually spill food in the back of your car. To use this spray, it only requires one coat that will be left to dry overnight. After the protector has been thoroughly absorbed, you’re able to wipe away all sorts of liquid stains and even grease stains. This spray comes in on the cheaper end and is a great deal for the money.

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The reason we like this fabric protector is that you only need a thin layer of it to get the job done, meaning you get more value for your money. However, it wasn’t as great at the other two with liquid stains dripping right off. A small amount of the stain can absorb into the fabric depending on the size of the spill, but it definitely prevents larger and more severe stain damage. Because you don’t need more than a thin layer with this spray, you can treat even large cars more than once.

The Bottom Line

Getting your car’s interior in pristine shape doesn’t have to be a hassle or break the bank. By taking matters into your own hands, you can learn how to clean car carpet in a way that makes maintenance easy. Give these tips a try by heading over to your local self-service car wash and trying it out for yourself.

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