DIY Tips for Cleaning Car Upholstery


In this article you will learn:

  • How to remove dirt and stains from your car’s upholstery

  • The importance of using purpose-built automotive upholstery cleaners

  • Tips for cleaning your car upholstery at home

Think about the type of dirt that might end up on your couch. Crumbs, coffee stains, some light soils from someone’s shoe. Nothing that can't come clean with a little laundry detergent and some fabric cleaner.

Now, think about the type of dirt that winds up on your car seat, upholstery and carpet. Mud, road grime and greasy, heavy soils from virtually any place you’ve driven to, or from. Obviously, this type of dirt is going to be much more difficult to clean, and, without the right detailing supplies, a lot more frustrating.

Many car owners take their cars to the detail shop to get their upholstery cleaned by a professional. But, with a little bit of know-how and the right automotive cleaners, you can do it yourself for a fraction of the price!

Here are some simple, DIY tips for restoring your car seats and upholstery to a factory fresh finish!

Ditch the household cleaners

Like we said in the beginning of this article, the dirt that winds up on your couch is different from the kind of dirt that becomes embedded in your upholstery. So while it may be tempting to repurpose your household cleaners to detail your car upholstery, this "lifehack” will actually slow down the cleaning process. In fact, many household cleaners contain ingredients that can get stuck in your fabric upholstery and cause it to get dirtier a lot faster in a process known as re-soiling.

To clean car upholstery quickly and easily, you’ll need an automotive cleaner designed to tackle the heavier soils you’re trying to remove. We recommend our Oxy Interior 1 spray to take care of lighter dirt and stains, and POWER OUT! Upholstery Cleaner for removing heavier stains and soils. If you have leather upholstery, we recommend a leather cleaner and conditioner like Hybrid Solutions Leather Care to keep your leather interior soft and protected. While these products may be a bit more expensive than household cleaners, they’ll save you time and money in the long run.

power out! upholstery cleaner

Start with the gentlest products

Cloth upholstery can take a lot of abuse, but you still want to clean it using the gentlest products possible to help make it last. Start with a general cleaning by spraying an interior detailer, like Oxy Interior 1, all over the panel you’re trying to clean, then use a soft, cotton cloth to wipe the entire area. A white cloth will make it easier to see how much dirt and stains you’ve lifted from your upholstery. Repeat this process on all your upholstery, concentrating on one section at a time and switching to a fresh cloth as needed.

After performing a general cleaning, it’ll be easier to identify any heavier stains or soils that require a heavy-duty product, like POWER OUT! Upholstery Cleaner, to remove. Avoid spot cleaning with your stain remover, which can create a noticeable ring effect. Instead, use your stain remover on the entire seat to get a clean, even finish. Allow your upholstery to dry and vacuum the area to remove the excess liquid-to-powder surfactants.

power out! upholstery cleaner & oxy interior 1

Gently scrub the stitching

Lots of dirt settles into the stitches of your upholstery, so it’s important to give this thicker material some extra care to get the deepest clean. After you perform your light-duty cleaning, spray the stitching of your upholstery with more of your detailer and use a soft-bristle toothbrush to gently scrub up and down the stitching, removing as many stains and soils as you can. This extra step will help you achieve a high quality, showroom look.

car interior with product applied

Do it often

Most car owners wait until their upholstery is looking worse-for-wear before taking care of it. By then, your upholstery is going to require a lot more time, money and effort to restore. Instead, you should clean your upholstery at least once every season to maintain the fresh, like-new appearance of your car interior.

One way to see if your upholstery needs detailing is to compare the front and rear seats and upholstery, especially if you don’t have a lot of passengers in your back seats. If your front seats look stained, soiled or discolored compared to the back seats, then it’s time to grab your detailing spray and complete a quick, general cleaning to freshen up that cloth or leather upholstery.

If you’re working with leather upholstery, we recommend cleaning and conditioning your leather at least once a month to protect it from cracking or fading in the sun. Most leather products, like Hybrid Solutions Leather Care, are infused with UV inhibitors to keep your leather from drying out from sun exposure.

The bottom line? Be proactive. Keeping your car upholstery clean not only makes for a better driving experience, it also helps to maintain the resale value of your car. And with these DIY tips, doing it yourself has never been easier.

car & power out! products


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