How To Clean Car Seats

The next time you clean out your car, give the seats a special going-over to keep them fresh and neat as well as long-lasting.

Doesn't it feel great to step inside a freshly cleaned car? Leaning back into the driver's or passenger's seat, you breathe deeply, enjoying the fresh scent of newly cleaned upholstery. Free of dust, lint, and trash, your vehicle will seem almost brand new. You can especially appreciate clean seats, since they hold your weight and come in close contact with your body. Give them special attention when you clean the car's interior.

1. First, remove all trash, debris, and personal items from the four car seats to free them for cleaning. Lengthen the seat belts so these can be cleaned as well. Push your front seats back as far as they can go, and bend rear seats forward with the lever so you can reach under them. Draw a bucket of hot water and add a few drops of mild detergent. Get a whiskbroom and a clean scrubbing cloth to work with.

2. Next, use the broom to brush away crumbs, lint, and hair from each seat. Do the same for the headrest, backs, and floor areas under the seats. Then use a portable vacuum cleaner to sweep away the remaining debris, using the extension nozzle to reach between, beside, and under the central area. While you're at it, you might as well vacuum the floor after removing the mats. Take out any large objects, like coins or toothpicks, by hand to avoid harming the sweeper. Use a napkin to wipe off sticky substances like gum or hard candy.

3. Dip the cloth in the soapy water and wipe off each seat's fabric, giving special effort to spots or stains. Rinse the cloth and wring out excess water before turning your attention to the vinyl portions of the seat areas. You may have to scrub the dingy spots to remove oil and grime. Don't forget to clean the seat levers, along with the underside of each seat that you can reach by hand.

4. Rinse your cloth in clear water and wipe away the soapy residue from the seating areas that were just washed. You may have to do this a couple of times to get it all. As the fabric dries, look for missed spots and apply a small amount of mild degreaser, following directions on the label. Remove as indicated.

5. Dip your whiskbroom in the soapy water and brush the floor carpet around and under each seat. Wash the mats separately. Wipe off the inside doors beside the seats, checking ashtrays and handles for special cleaning needs, such as spilled food or beverages. Lift the headrest and wipe underneath each one. Then wipe off each seatbelt, using degreaser for tough spots if needed. Don't forget the backs of the seats as well.

When you are finished, your seats should feel fresh and clean. Visually inspect the entire interior and finish washing up the other sections, giving a last glance at the four seats. Place a fresh fragrance in one of the side ashtrays to help deodorize the vehicle. You may want to invest in seat covers to protect the upholstery and make it last.

© High Speed Ventures 2011