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How to Clean Your Car's Carpet

How to Clean Your Car's Carpet Categories:Car & Maintenance Tips, Car Enthusiast Talk, Carpet Protection
How to Clean Your Car's Carpet

Cleaning the carpet inside your car isn’t the same as pushing a vacuum through your living room. Dirt, mud and debris can linger in hard-to-reach areas inside your vehicle. You also won’t have as much room to see what you’re doing, which can make carpet cleaning all the more painful. 

As it turns out, car owners aren’t cleaning the interior of their cars as often as they should be. One-third of drivers only clean their car once a year, instead of the recommended once a month. If you’ve been neglecting the carpet inside your car, you will have your work cut out for you. Use these tips to get started. 

Getting Ready to Clean

The first step is to take your car floor mats out of the car, if you have them, so you have full access to the carpet underneath. Pick up any trash or debris that might be lying around. Use a shop vac or car vacuum to remove dirt from the carpet. Go slow to let the vacuum suck up any stuck-on dirt that may be lingering between the cracks. If you’re having trouble reaching some of those nooks and crannies, use compressed air to push the dirt out into the open.

Using the Right Cleaning Solution

Once you’ve removed all the loose dirt from the floor, it’s time to start scrubbing. 

If you prefer the DIY method, you can create your own cleaning solution at home. Mix a cup of club soda, vinegar and dishwashing soap into a spray bottle and mist the carpet in your car. This mixture is perfect for removing grease, coffee and other tough stains. Let the mixture soak into the fabric for around ten minutes before you start scrubbing. You don’t want to soak the fabric, but don’t be stingy with the cleaning solution either. 

washing car carpet

You’ll also need to find a hand brush that will work well on carpet. Use moderate force when scrubbing the fibers of your carpet. Try to move the brush in the same direction so you don’t wear down your carpet. 

If the first cleaning solution doesn’t work, you can also try adding some hydrogen peroxide into the mix. This will help you get rid of stains that have been caked onto the carpet for months.

When the cleaning is finished, let the inside of your car air out for the rest of the day to prevent oxidation and mold. 

Carpet Steam or Shampoo

The steps mentioned above will help you spot-clean certain stains and get rid of debris, but if you really want to wow your passengers, you can go the extra mile by steam cleaning or shampooing the carpet in your car. This will soften the fibers of the carpet so you and your guests can stretch out and relax as if you were at home.

We’ve found that steam cleaning can damage the interior of some cars over time so it’s best to go with carpet shampoo instead. Use warm water when washing the shampoo into the fibers of the carpet. When you’re finished, you can soak up the excess water with a wet vac. This will help you catch any dirt you might’ve missed the first time around. 

Getting Rid of Pet Hair

Nothing will dirty up your car like taking your pet for a ride. This tends to be one of the most frustrating parts of being a pet owner. Your animals never seem to keep their hair to themselves. Any time you let your pet in the front or back seat, you’ll probably have to start the entire cleaning process all over again. 

To remove pet hairs from carpet, start by trying to vacuum them up. You may need to use special attachments, such as a brush with fine bristles, to remove the hair. If hairs stick in hard-to-reach corners, try using compressed air to blow them out of their hiding spots. 

two happy dogs in a car

Switch to Rubber

The best way to protect your vehicle carpet is to line your vehicle with fitted floor mats. Cleaning rubber is often much easier than cleaning carpet. The dirt and debris will slide right off the mat as you shake it out in the grass.

Look for all-weather floor mats that can stand up to moisture, mud and dirt. Instead of scrubbing and shampooing your floors, use a hose to blast away dirt and mud. Cleaning up pet hairs will also be a breeze. Hair won’t get embedded in the rubber so you can quickly wipe off your mats without devoting the entire afternoon to cleaning your car.

Use these tips to clean and protect your car’s carpet.