A spill is all it takes to mar the look of your car's interior. The upholstery in a vehicle is one of the most challenging aspects of maintaining the cleanliness of the car, but these upholstery cleaning tips can help.
6 Car Upholstery Cleaning Tips
The upholstery in any vehicle needs regular cleaning to keep it in good condition. Drink spills and ground-in crumbs often are the culprits behind stained seat fabric. The best way to treat this type of fabric is to do so as you would a fabric-covered couch. Avoid saturating it with water. Use only approved chemicals to clean it. The following tips will help you to clean most car upholstery surfaces properly:
- Use a soft bristle brush on the seats. Brush the seats off to remove any loose debris. This will also help the small fabric fibers to stand up. This will allow for better overall cleaning.
- Use a vacuum with an attachment hose to remove all of the debris. Be sure to get into the cracks and crevices properly. Some vacuum attachments have small hoses that fit between seats and into pockets.
- Notice any stains on the fabric. Try to determine the cause of the stain, such as food or ground-in dirt from shoes. Then, choose an appropriate fabric stain remover that works on that type of stain. Choose a fabric cleaner specifically designed for car upholstery. Follow the directions provided by the cleaner's manufacturer.
- Test the fabric cleaner on a hidden area of the seat before applying to other areas. This is particularly important for degreaser-type cleaners because the chemicals within these can cause staining or damage.
- For areas without stains that are dirty, use a damp cloth on the surface. Avoid rubbing the stain too forcefully because this forces the stain further into the fabric. Instead, wipe the area in a sliding motion, forcing the dirt off the fabric.
- Keep the windows and doors of the vehicle open to ensure any wet areas can dry out properly. If the seats do not dry properly, this can lead to mold build-up.
You can purchase upholstery cleaning supplies at your local department or car supply store. Auto shops may also carry these products.
Cleaning Other Surfaces
Often, a vehicle will have other surfaces aside from fabric upholstery, including leather and vinyl. When cleaning these surfaces, use cleaning products designed specifically for that surface type.
For leather, wipe off the surface with a damp towel. Scrub areas where debris remains using a soft brush. Be sure to clean the stitching on the leather as well. Although a mild detergent is usually enough to clean leather, you can also use an all purpose grease remover on heavily soiled areas. Use the least amount of water possible. Dry off the surface with a dry cloth as soon as possible.
To clean vinyl, use vinyl upholstery cleaner. This product is available through most auto parts retailers. Use a soft brush to apply the cleaner and wipe away. Sunlight or over heating can damage vinyl significantly. This type of damage often does not wash away.
Tips for Cleaning Success
Keeping the interior of a vehicle clean maintains the vehicle's value. Regularly cleaning it will help to avoid bigger problems with ground-in material. Consider the following tips to make the process easier:
- Avoid eating or drinking in the vehicle. This is one of the biggest risks to the upholstery since the sugars and fats in the food can stain the fabric.
- Notice when the vehicle needs cleaning, and avoid putting it off. The longer stains sit, the harder they are to remove.
- Avoid putting shoes on the seats. The small particles of dirt can embed into the fibers of the upholstery and become difficult to remove.
- Keep paper towels in the vehicle to clean up any messes as they happen.
- For sugary stains, such as a spilled soda, use a towel to sop up as much of the liquid as possible. Blot the area rather than rubbing it. Then, use a mild detergent to fully remove the sugary solution.
By using these car upholstery cleaning tips, you can protect your vehicle's value. Taking car of your car's upholstery also ensures that the vehicle remains a healthy place for you and your family.