How to Clean Cloth Car Seats: With 8 Great Tips

What’s not to love about the warmth and comfort offered by cloth car seats during cold weather? You can relax on them without your skin sticking or sliding around, and knowing how to clean cloth car seats will always make your car interior smell fresh.

Cloth car seats can gather dirt because of the length of hours we spend in our cars. Sometimes in the car, we eat, drink, and carry out other activities that can attract dirt to the seats and the dirt make it smell bad if you don’t make out time to give it a thorough cleaning.

How to Clean Cloth Car seat Step by Step Guide

No matter how you try to be careful, you’ll still have some grime on your car seats, and the best way to deal with them is to clean them off fast and leave your seat stain-free. You don’t necessarily need a professional when cleaning cloth car seats because you can do it yourself.

You may know how to clean leather car seats, but cleaning fabric car seats is more manageable, and the steps are simple to follow. Interestingly, there are also steps on how to clean car seats with household products and make them look elegant again.


The tools you need to clean cloth car seats include:

  • A vacuum cleaner that has a hose
  • A scrub brush with stiff bristles
  • Bucket
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber cloths


You’ll also need some materials such as:

  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Car seat cleaner
  • Water

how to clean cloth car seats reddit

1. Use the Vacuum Cleaner

The best way to begin is to vacuum the fabric of your car seat. This step is essential as it ensures thorough removal of debris, dust, food bits, and hairs from the seats.

The crevice tool in the vacuum cleaner will help you get to the back, its upholstery brush will raise the fabric’s fibers, and the nozzle will take out other loose rubbish.

2. Try Out Cleaning the Stains

You may notice some apparent stains such as grease, food, and drink spills on your car seat while cleaning, and it is best to try out cleaning a little part of the stained area before cleaning the entire area.

If the stains are from grease or spills, you may apply a little car seat cleaner such as this Aero Cosmetics cleaner. Apply it on the stains and scrub them using a scrub brush. Now, clean the entire area that has stains after waiting for 15 minutes.

If the stains are from dye, it is best to make the stained area a little wet first. Then, apply the oxygen-based bleach that has been mixed with some drops of water. After the application, let it stay in that area for about an hour, then use a vacuum cleaner to remove the powder.

3. Apply the Car Seat Cleaner

When you have tried out cleaning the stain, you are ready to clean the whole car seat; then, you begin by ensuring your cleaner is on a spray bottle as it allows easy application and control. Whether you use a homemade cleaner for fabric car seats or store-bought, it works just fine.

You can quickly learn how to clean a car with seats with baking soda and how to shampoo car seats yourself. Now, to apply the car seat cleaner, spray it lightly on the entire seat, starting from the top of the seat and ensuring the seats don’t become too damp.

About five sprays on the area should be enough because making it too damp can cause mold and make the car seats smelly.

4. Scrub off the Dirt

After spraying the cleaner on the cloth car seats, the next step is to work it with a scrub brush. Ensure to scrub well and to begin from the top of the seats to make the dirt fall in drops as you work on them.

Note that the brush will become dirty as you brush. When it does, rinse it in clean water, remove the excess water on it, and continue brushing until you’ve covered the seat.

5. Rub-Off Extra Moisture

Next is to wipe off any extra moisture using a soft microfiber cloth like the MATCC microfiber towel. It is essential to quickly do this wiping off before the seat becomes dry as it’ll cause the dirt to return to the seat.

Also, make sure the microfiber cloth you use is clean because a dirty one will give the seats a fresh stain and make them look worse.

6. Retake the Steps if Necessary

You may need to go over the processes again, spray the cleaner, scrub the dirt off, and wipe with a clean microfiber towel until you see visible results. For some cloth car seats that are dirty, you may have to repeat these steps severally to see clear results.

7. Vacuum Again

When you’ve seen good results, it is good to vacuum the seats one more time and then allow them for about three hours to dry before sitting on them.

8. Apply a Protective Coating

When the seats dry and look all clean and smelling fresh, you can apply a protective coating.

The fabric protector will help ensure that dirt doesn’t rest on the fabrics easily and reduces cleaning time for subsequent cleaning. This step is optional, but it’ll give you a great result.

homemade cleaner for fabric car seats

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often to clean cloth car seats?

You can vacuum clean your cloth car seats once every month to keep them clean from dust and dirt. It is best to vacuum them the first time to bring out surface dirt, beat the seats to raise the dirt beyond the surface, and vacuum clean again.

Regular cleaning every month is necessary, especially if you use the car frequently and always have kids in it. If not, cleaning cloth car seats two to three times yearly will be great.

How do you get stains out of cloth car seats?

You can remove stains from cloth car seats by cleaning them with a car seat cleaner. You can get the car seat cleaner from the store or make it at home using some household products. Then pour into a spray bottle.

When you have the cleaner, spray it lightly on the car seat fabric. Let it sit for few minutes, scrub with a medium-stiffed brush, and wipe off any excess cleaner with a wet, soft cloth. Then, open the windows and allow the seats to dry.

What is the best cleaner for fabric car seats?

Many products can pass for an excellent car interior cleaner as they help to restore your car’s new look. You’ll find many good ones in the market, but the Meguiar’s carpet and upholstery cleaner seem to take the lead.

It is reported to remove stains quickly as even the toughest stains fade at their first application and completely get removed at the second application.

However, it is too pricey, and you’ll find other excellent cleaners such as Simoniz Upholstery and Carpet Cleaner at a lower price.

How do you deep clean cloth seats?

You can deep clean your cloth seats by first vacuuming them to get rid of dirt, hair, and food bits. Then you pretreat the noticeable stains before spraying your cloth seat cleaner on the whole seat.

Begin to scrub after applying the cleaner and wipe off extra moisture with a clean cloth. You may have to repeat the process of applying the cleaner, scrubbing, and wiping until you are satisfied with the results. Then, allow the seats to dry before sitting on the seats.

How do you make fabric car seats look new?

You can make the fabric of your car seats look new by doing regular cleaning using products specially made for cleaning and maintaining cloth car seats. Always avoid making the seats damp during cleaning as it’ll make the seats smell bad.

Applying an upholstery protector on the seats after cleaning and attending to small tears and holes early before they get worse also goes a long way to help make your fabric car seats look new.

Can you wash car seat fabric?

It is not a good idea to wash your car seat fabric because it will require much moisture, which will wet the seat’s foam and lead to mold growth. The sight of a mold on your vehicle’s interior feels sickening, and the smell is terrible too.

It is best to clean your cloth car seats with the cleaning tips listed above. However, you can wash your car seat covers with warm water following their washing instructions.

What household items can you use to clean cloth car seats?

You can use a lot of everyday items found at home to clean your cloth car seats. Such items are:

  • Vinegar, dish soap, and water: measure out half a cup of vinegar and half a tablespoon of dish soap and pour both of them into a cup of water to form a solution. Ensure to leave the solution in a spray bottle to easily apply it when cleaning cloth car seats.
  • Baking soda and water: you can make this by measuring ¼ cup of baking soda and a cup of lukewarm water. Combine well to form a solution, and you have a fabric car seat cleaner that is strong enough to deal with tough stains.
  • Club soda: pour club soda into a spray bottle, cover it tightly, and spray it on stains on your cloth car seats.
  • Laundry detergent: pour some quantity of your washing detergent into hot water to form a solution. This solution cleans your fabric car seats and leaves them smelling good.

How can I clean my cloth car seats at home?

You can clean your cloth car seats at home by taking these simple steps on how to clean car seat fabric yourself, which include:

  • Vacuuming the seats to remove dust, dirt, and other hidden particles.
  • Pretreating the stains with oxygen-based bleach or fabric cleaner before cleaning the entire seat.
  • Applying your fabric cleaner, which could be store-bought or homemade, to the whole seat and giving it a good scrubbing.
  • Wipe off the extra moisture with a microfiber towel to evaluate your result.
  • Repeat the steps from the cleaner application until you get the result you desire, then let the seat air dry before sitting on them.

Final Words

Cloth car seats can be a great choice of car interior as it offers lots of comfort to the driver in different weather conditions. We have listed tips on how to clean cloth car seats to help you clean and maintain them and have them look new and fresh always.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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