How to clean car seats

There’s nothing better than a smart, clean car. But don’t just stop at the outside – the interior deserves to be kept fresh too. Here’s how to clean your car seats.

You’ve washed your car, given it a polish and buffed up the wheels. So it’s all looking great – until a bird deposits on it or you run through a muddy puddle and then it’s time to get the bucket and sponge out all over again.

That’s motoring life, and cleaning your car is just another part of vehicle ownership. But, just like the exterior of your pride and joy, the inside of the car should be kept clean and free of dirt and grime too. That’s not just for cosmetic reasons: good hygiene inside any car should be a priority. Vehicle interiors can harbour millions of bugs and germs.

Keeping seats clean are a big part of this. The primary feature of any car’s interior, its seating areas are where you and your passengers spend their time while you’re driving. And nobody wants to sit on dirty, stained leather or fabric.

What you’ll need to clean your car seats

Cleaning your car seats isn't the hardest job in the world and should only take a short time, especially if it’s done regularly, so it’s well worth doing. You will need a vacuum cleaner with hose attachment, some water, a medium brush, sponge, drying cloth and specialist upholstery cleaner.

Cleaning the seats

  1. Start by giving the chairs a good vacuuming. This is the important first step and should not be by-passed. It sucks up and removes dried mud, crumbs, dust and dirt before you start cleaning. That means you won’t be pushing grime into your seat fabric or leather trim.
  2. Now’s the time to brush down the seats to remove any lasting fibres or pieces of dirt. Collect it in a dustpan.
  3. Use an upholstery cleaner to treat any stubborn stains that might be showing on your seat material. Work the solution into the stains directly with the brush. Leave for 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer the cleaner into a spray bottle (if it’s not already in one) and apply the solution all over the seat you are cleaning. Start at the top and spray all the way down the seat back and across the base.
  5. Give the seats a light scrubbing while they are still damp from the solution. Rinse the brush in water if necessary. Then towel down with the drying cloth to remove as much excess moisture as possible.
  6. Now all you need is time – to let the seats dry. If you can do this overnight, that’s the optimum but in any case, allow two to three hours.
  7. Inspect the seat fabric or your leather afterwards and if there are any patches of dirt remaining, give them another go when it’s convenient. Small stains aside, whichever way you look at it, your seats will be cleaner and more hygienic than when you started.

Now keep your seats tidy

These few simple steps will help you keep a smarter, healthier car interior:

  1. Use a specialist fabric protector, available from car product outlets. They form a barrier between your seats and daily dirt and grime and can make cleaning them a bit easier.
  2. Keep a towel or drying cloth in the car. If you accidentally spill something or you get into your car soaking wet from a downpour, a quick drying of excess water or liquid with the towel might save you more work later.
  3. Avoid eating and drinking altogether. It’s potentially dangerous to eat and drink at the wheel, and the police could accuse you of driving without care, so keeping your eating regime to places outside of your car will go a long way towards avoiding unsightly stains on the seats, as well as the carpets and other areas of trim.

MotorCheck’s vehicle history checking service doesn’t investigate how often a car has been cleaned – inside or out – but it does look at other important areas, such as true identity, mileage, finance and write-off warnings, colour changes, and whether the vehicle has been used as a taxi.

If you’re thinking of buying a used car, a MotorCheck £9.99 single vehicle check could help you avoid being taken to the cleaners!