How To Deep Clean Car Seats?

By Power Tools

September 1, 2022

Buying a car comes with several responsibilities. One of these is to keep the insides neat and clean. While many people consider it quite a task to deep clean car seats, it is not that difficult.

So, if you think cleaning car seats is a tough job, you should give this article a good read because it will help you learn how to deep clean car seats. Once you know the tools and methods to deep clean the hearts of your car, you might start enjoying doing this work instead of considering it as a task

So, go ahead and read on!

What Are the Products Required To Clean the Car Seats?

You will need the following things to deep clean your car seats.

  • A powerful vacuum cleaner to remove the dirt and debris
  • A pre-treat stain remover to help in removing stubborn stains
  • A brush with moderately hard bristles for scrubbing
  • An oxygen-based bleach, if you have dyed stains
  • An upholstery cleaner or car cleaner
  • Hot water
  • A carpet cleaner or steam cleaner, whichever you prefer
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Spray-on fabric to protect the outer layer of the car seat covers
  • A dryer

Please gather all of these objects before you begin. The process will take a few hours, and it’s best to have everything in place.

How To Remove Stains From Car Seats?

Deep cleaning car seats require you to follow several steps in order, as given below.

A man is scrubbing the car seat

Vacuuming the Seats

You should always start the cleaning process by first vacuuming the seats, which helps to take out the easiest to remove layers of dirt and debris from them.

Most people just run the vacuum cleaner over the car seats and car seat covers. However, few vacuum cleaners can remove seat dirt and residue properly in this way.

Therefore, learning how to vacuum the seats is very important. You need to separate the seams of the seats and stick the nozzle between them (if you have a special attachment for nooks and corners, it will help) to get the dirt out.

Using a Pre-stain Remover

The next step would be to apply a pre-treat stain remover on the stains of the car seats. A pre-stain remover loosens the particles that caused the stain. For example, it would help to remove the food particles from a food-related stain.

Using an Upholstery Cleaner

If your stain is not very deep, you can skip this step. A light misting should be good enough to move on to the next step.

However, if your stain looks to be very stubborn, you need to bring out the upholstery cleaner.

Apply the upholstery cleaner on the seat covers and let it work through the covers for at least 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, upholstery cleaners will only work on some car seat covers, but not all. For example, never use a chemical-based cleaner on genuine leather car seats.

Instead, you can create a mixture of club soda and mild soap and spray it on the stained area to do the job. We have discussed this in the ‘cleaning’ section below.


Once you treat the covers with your cleaner, it’s time to scrub out the dirt! You can use a carpet cleaning brush for scrubbing. Scrubbing can often remove stains that have been in place for months! So don’t leave out this step.

While scrubbing, do not force the car seat cover fabric because it might cause wear and tear. The bristles of your brush can be quite stiff, and some types of car seat fabrics are very easy to tear. Remember to use a scrub brush with moderately hard bristles when cleaning car seats and seat covers.

Bleaching and Rinsing

You can skip this part if you don’t have dye-based stains and move directly to the next section.

It is a good idea to use an oxygen-based bleach for your car seats, especially if the stain is dye-based. However, you should dampen the stained part before applying the beach for dye-based stains.

Add a few drops of water to make a paste out of the bleach and let it stay on the car seat for at least half an hour before rinsing it with cold water. An oxygen-based bleach will clear away the stain very quickly. If the stain persists, repeat the process and keep wiping it off completely each time.


Once the above steps have been followed, you can dilute your car-seat cleaner or carpet cleaner solution with hot water and wash the seats. Hot water is better because it is more effective when cleaning stubborn stains than water kept at room temperature.

The process of using a carpet cleaner and a steam cleaner is slightly different from each other. We cover the processes below:

  • Using a carpet cleaner

You can use a carpet cleaner to clean your car seats, but remember to always dilute your car cleaner solution with hot water. Once it is diluted, you can easily spray it all over your car seats.

Once you have sprayed it, use the carpet cleaner to suck out the deep stains. You will see the stains leaving the covers in front of your own eyes!

For every stain, keep spraying and sucking out the solution, staying on one spot for a time, cleaning it properly, and then moving on to the next spot.

Do this as many times as it takes to get the stain out. You might have to do this several times, but perseverance is the key here.

Another thing to consider when using a carpet cleaner is to buy one that has a special nozzle for spraying car cleaner solution in it. If it doesn’t have one, you might have to go a bit further and use a separate brush and push the solution deep into the covers to remove stubborn stains.

  • Using a steam cleaner

The first thing to do if you are going with the steam cleaning option is to pour hot water into the reservoir and allow the steamer to soak in the heat.

Once the steamer indicates that it has reached the set temperature, go ahead with the deep cleaning process. It will take about 15 to 30 minutes for most steamers to heat up thoroughly.

Start gently stroking it on the car seats up and down – take your time with each section. Make sure to give every small section its due, and not rush the process. Spend at least 15 to 30 seconds on each section.

One thing to remember with steam cleaning is never to use it on leather car seat covers or leather seats. If your car seats are made from leather, it is best to avoid moisturizing them for long. We all know that excessive heat or moisture can cause considerable damage to leather seat covers.

Once you are done with one section, wipe it off with a microfiber cloth or pad. It will remove the extra moisture from the seats and give them a clean and shiny look.

Drying the Seats

Now that you are done with the deep cleaning process, you will notice that the seats are wet due to the liquid solution and moisture.

It is best to let them dry naturally for a few hours. While cleaning the vehicle during the day, you can just let the sunlight do its magic for a few hours. But it is not always possible for you to leave your car open, so you can also use a dryer to do the job.

If you use a dryer, we would suggest not to use the car for a few hours or else leave it overnight to dry out completely.

Adding a Protective Coating

Once you are sure that the car seats are patted dry, go the extra mile and buy a fabric protector to keep your car seats stain-free for longer.

All you have to do is spray the seat protector on the seat and seat covers. Make sure to put it on every exposed nook and corner, and it’s best to apply it to the seat covers before putting them back on.

Using a fabric protector will make the cleaning process much easier the next time, and unlike other car owners, you won’t have to complain about how dirty your car’s seats get within a month or so.

DIY Household Car Seat Cleaner Solutions

We mentioned earlier that chemical-based cleaners are not suitable for all types of car seats. Here, we list below many household items which you can use to create a cleaning mixture of your own.

Using detergent in cleaning car seat

Vinegar + Hot Water Solution

Every household has a bottle of vinegar lying somewhere in the kitchen or the fridge. All you need to do is add a cup of vinegar and hot water together, and voila! Your mixture is ready!

If your car seats are dirtier than usual, add a pinch of dish soap, pour the mixture into a bottle, and store it for later use.

When it comes to usage, spray some mixture on the stained part and use a scrub brush to remove the stain. Add warm or hot water to the same area and pat it dry.

Baking Soda

Mix about one-fourth of baking soda with a cup of warm water and use it directly on the stained area to clean it away. In some cases, this solution gives even better results than chemical-based cleaners.


If you do not have any of the above items to make a cleaning mixture, every home has a detergent for laundry, which works just as well as the above two DIY stain cleaners.

Add a spoonful of detergent to a cup of warm water and pour or spray the solution on the fabric of the stained area of the car seat.

Now, scrub the dampened area and leave it on for a few minutes before removing the cleaner with a microfibre cloth. Leave it to dry for a while, and you will see that the stain has completely disappeared.

Wrap Up

Keeping your car seats clean is important because it keeps your car hygienic and safe and protects you from many diseases.

Studies have suggested that car seats contain more bacteria and fungi per sq. ft. than even toilet seats!

So, you need to clean them well so that the dirt, debris, and stains do not invite diseases into your house.

Moreover, the cleaner your car seats are, the lesser the chance for cuts, tears, and permanent stains to occur on them.

So, make sure you are a good car owner by taking some time off to keep your car seats clean and, thus, visually appealing to the eyes of the beholder.