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Water Stain on Your Car Seat? Here's What to Do

Water Stain on Your Car Seat? Here's What to Do Category:Car & Maintenance Tips
Water Stain on Your Car Seat? Here's What to Do

Spilling water on your car seats shouldn’t be that big of a deal. These kinds of stains tend to be much easier to clean than others, so don’t fret. To get rid of the stain, you’ll need access to some basic cleaning supplies. Use these simple steps to make the interior look and feel as good as new.

What You’ll Need:

  • Vacuum cleaner

Any regular vacuum will do. Use the included attachments to suck up dirt and dust from the upholstery before trying to wash out the stain.

  • Upholstery or rug cleaner/shampoo

For best results, use a special upholstery shampoo specially made for cleaning car interiors. 

  • Soft brush 

Avoid overly stiff bristles that could ruin the upholstery. Use soft bristles that won’t distort the natural fabric.

  • Clean, dry towel


cleaning dirty back seat

For Cloth and Fabric Upholstery:

To get started, use the vacuum to remove dirt, dust and crumbs from the upholstery. The shampoo will only bring out these tiny imperfections as you lather up the seat, so it’s best to get rid of them now.

Once the seat is clean, use the brush to gently massage the shampoo into the fabric. For hard water and saltwater stains, put a teaspoon of vinegar into the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before applying the shampoo. If you’re not sure what kind of water stain you’re dealing with, use this guide as a reference.

Be sure to rub the shampoo into the entire seat. If you just clean the area around the stain, it probably won’t match with the rest of the upholstery. 

Now, use the dry rag or towel to soak up the shampoo and water. Let the entire area air dry for several hours.

For Leather Upholstery: 

Leather tends to be more resilient than fabric and upholstery. A small drop of water will usually dry on its own without changing the color of your leather seats. If the stain doesn’t go away on its own, use a mixture of vinegar and room-temperature water. Soak a rag in the mixture and squeeze it out. It should be damp without dripping excess fluid.  

Use the cloth to slowly work the stain from all sides. Rub outward from the stain to the seams of the leather. Next, wipe down the entire area with a dry cloth and let it dry out naturally. 

If the stain still hasn’t gone away, finish it off with some fast-drying leather conditioner. 

You may need to hire a professional if the stain lingers. Some types of leather and fabric tend to be more sensitive to water stains than others, so it all depends on the type of car in question.  

dirty vehicle seat

How to Prevent Water Stains 

As you can see, getting a simple water stain out of your seats shouldn’t be a major hassle. The entire process only takes a few minutes, plus the time it takes to air out your car. While these steps will help you remove the water stain, constant spills will take a toll on your upholstery over time. 

The best way to prevent everyday mishaps is to lay down a series of high-quality seat covers. They wrap around the entire seat, so dirt, food, water and other beverages won’t end up in the fabric. If a drink goes down in the back seat, just pop out the seat cover, toss it in the wash and you’ll be good to go. Use car and truck seat covers on your way to work and family trips to avoid messing up the interior of your car.

If you want to show off the original upholstery, just take off the covers and store them in the trunk for another day. 

You can also use rubber floor mats for even more protection behind the wheel. The floor can easily fill up with dirt, dust and mud over time, leading to strong odors, the spread of bacteria and even mold. Use durable floor mats that fit to the exact dimensions of your vehicle to keep fluids from slipping between the cracks. 

Life is short, so not eating and drinking behind the wheel can be a challenge–especially if you have kids or a long commute. That’s why it’s best to lay down protection before you enjoy a snack or beverage on your trip. Keep these accessories on hand to give yourself some more peace of mind.


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