Car Upholstery Cleaning: Top 3 Affordable and Effective Ways To Clean Your Car Upholstery. 


We love our cars, and sometimes they get a little bit dirty on the inside, but it generally only takes a good vacuum, and a surface wipes down to get us back to a satisfactory state where we can once again enjoy being on the inside of our cars.

There are those instances when we get into a rush and have to eat on the go. The kids are dirty from practice, the dog went into the pond at the park, and the list goes on.

So here are Five of the top ways I have used to clean car carpet and car upholstery. First, I am not a fan of rug doctor or any other brand of carpet cleaner. The water is never very hot from the machine, and the cleaning agents are sub-par.

Plus, have you ever noticed the water line when you finish cleaning just a spot, seems to defeat the purpose.

Car Upholstery Cleaning Method 1:

Working time: 15 minutes

Cost: Free

                Yep simple as hot water, even after the stain has set in for a bit, it works well on dirt by helping break up the dirt. First, start by making a boiling pot of water, then pour the water slowly onto the spot from a little bit of height (this helps create more pressure to help break up the stain), Agitate the area with a towel, preferably a microfiber cloth. Use another dry towel to soak up the excess water, repeat as needed.

This method is a little more time consuming and does not work as well, but if you have access to hot water and no cleaning agents, it’s a good fix. I have used this when traveling and my kids spilled something on the cars back seats or car carpet.

Ran into a gas station and got a hot cup of water from the coffee machine. It at a minimum reduces the stain greatly and makes it easier to clean later.

Car Upholstery Cleaning Method 2. Dawn Dish Soap Magic

Working Time: 20 Minutes

Cost: $12.00

Dawn dish soap has been known for a long time as one of the best cleaning agents on the market. It is also mild so it won’t agitate your skin if you have any type of allergy to car cleaning agents. Combine it with some hydrogen peroxide, and you get an oxygen boost that helps lift stains while Dawn does it work on the grease.

2oz of hydrogen peroxide (3%) and 1 oz of Dawn dish soap. If you have a 24oz bottle, you would want 12oz of hydrogen peroxide and 6oz of dawn dish soap. Just think 2 to 1 mix. This mixture is also great for cleaning other types of messes. I keep a small bottle in my glove box with a microfiber towel for surface messes and as my quick go to car upholstery cleaner.

Directions: After making the mixture spray the carpet or upholstery thoroughly and work in with a microfiber towel. Side note here, I spent $5.00 on a medium bristle brush and it works magic on helping break up the stain and dirt, they carry them at any Auto Part store here is the Carpet Cleaning Brush I use and has lasted a long time. After you agitate the area, spray again and let sit for a couple of minutes (5 does the trick usually) then wipe away excess with a dry towel. You can also use another spray bottle with hot or cold water to spray the area remove extra soap etc.

Method 3: Folex Upholstery and Car Carpet Cleaner

Working Time: 20 minutes

Cost: $90.00

This final method requires a couple of extra tools but is by far my favorite method to date. One that I created myself. 1st go to Home Depot and grab a bottle of Folex. This amazing carpet cleaner runs $6 bucks and does not leave a water line after use. I use it on the carpet, cloth seats, and even leather seats of the car. 2nd you are going to need a wet vacuum, you can use Folex with the same process in Method 2, but the wet vacuum makes the process faster and more effective. Any wet dry vacuum will work, and it’s an investment because you will be surprised how often you can make use of it. I like the small Rigid Wet/Dry vacuum runs about $69 and does a wonderful job and is the perfect car cleaning tool.

Directions for using Folex to clean your car carpets:

Vacuum the entire area very well, use the brush attachment to help loosen dirt caught in between the fibers of the carpet or the pores on leather seats (generally if your car has heated seats). Spray Folex over entire stain or area until saturated. Use the Car brush to agitate the area. Spray Folex once again and wait 30 seconds. Vacuum the area thoroughly to pull out the solution. Spray the area again until very damp with a water bottle (hot water is great too if you have it). You can get the area pretty wet with water; I usually have the wet vacuum ready when I pour water on. This allows water to lift up the remaining solution and any dirt that has been loosened by cleaning agent and then sucked away into your wet/dry vacuum.

Why this method works so well: Essentially you are breaking down the process that a carpet cleaner does for you. Here is where the difference comes into play. The carpet cleaner has small bristles on the brush and is usually awkward to work the area. The machine puts down the solution while you scrub and sucks it back up, generally not leaving enough time to let it sit. You are paying $65.00 per use plus the cleaning agent who runs around $25.00. For the same price, you have just given yourself around a dozen uses of cleaner and a vacuum that will last for a long time and is backed by a lifetime guarantee. Spraying the solution separate lets it sit on the stain and help work it in with a brush effectively breaking it up and loosening it for removal. The Rigid vacuum has much greater suction and pulls out the dirt, oil, or whatever caused the stain. The alcohol in the Folex helps the car seats or carpet dry without leaving any watermarks. You can use it on your cars leather seats as well before applying any leather cleaner/conditioner.

You can use method 3 with any of the cleaners I recommended, even just hot water. Dawn is very effective when mixed but still can leave a watermark. This is my biggest reason for using Folex. I have broken up year old gum stains, oil, tar, spilled sodas, and much more. It has proven much more effective than any carpet cleaner (except a heavy-duty steam cleaner that runs around $1000.00).

Next time your car has a stain try one of my methods to help remove it and keep your vehicle looking like new.

If you found this post useful, please leave a comment and of course if you have a question about this method or anything else car detailing related drop a comment.

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