In this article, you will learn:
When it comes to the inside of your car, no job is tougher than cleaning the carpet. Food stains, mud, greasy soils, pet stains…they all build up quickly and diminish the look of your car interior. To make matters worse, they’re some of the toughest set in stains to remove from carpet fibers.
That said, with the right cleaning products, know-how and a little care, you can get your carpet clean and keep it looking great year-round!
If you’ve ever tried to use household carpet cleaners inside your car, you’ve probably found it to be hand-numbing work. Cleaners made for inside your home just aren’t powerful enough to break down and remove stains in your car’s carpet. Household cleaners are developed to get rid of the occasional food spill, light stains and soils that you might track throughout your entire home. Automotive carpet cleaners, on the other hand are designed to break up the oiliest, greasiest messes that you track in from parking garages and gas stations and the food and drink stains that you make in the same spots again and again.
Just as importantly, think about the foot traffic in your home, versus that around your driver’s seat. You walk all over your home and scatter light soils everywhere, but, in your car, your feet concentrate and grind grease and soils into the carpet and mats in very small spaces. In no time at all, these areas become too deeply soiled for an outmatched household cleaner. You’ll need a stain and odor remover for cars to lift these stubborn stains from your carpet.
The best way to clean your car’s carpet is actually two different ways. Whenever you clean your car’s interior every month or so, you should spot clean and touch up your carpet. Give your interior a good once-over so you can spot stains and take care of them before they set in. This can help keep all of your car’s interior looking great year-round, and it will make your job easier when it’s time to deep clean that carpet.
Second, you should deep clean your interior, carpet included, about four times a year. It’s easiest to track these cleanings with the changing seasons, and the seasons themselves can demand a good cleaning as you get road salts out of your carpet in early spring or sand out of your floor mats in early fall.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for small cues that can tell you whether your car interior needs a light- or heavy-duty cleaning. If the colors of your upholstery or carpet start to look a little muted, you feel tackiness on the steering wheel or see light fingerprints on dashboard controls, all you need is a quick, light-duty cleaning to freshen up your car interior. However, if you have visible soils embedded in your floormats, or your carpet or upholstery has become discolored more than muted, it’s time for a good, deep clean to restore these interior surfaces.
Because you’ll do light cleaning on a fairly regular basis, you’ll want to make the job as fast and convenient as possible. Find an excellent cleaning product that’s safe and effective to use on most or all your car’s interior surfaces. We recommend Interior 1 Multi-Purpose Cleaner & Stain Remover for all plastic, rubber, metal and synthetic interior car surfaces. The integrated scrubber brush will help the product penetrate deeper into the fibers of your carpet to break up soils and stains. This triple-action cleaner also includes an odor remover and air freshener. It really is the ideal solution for routine interior and light-duty carpet cleaning.
Once you vacuum your carpet and mats, saturate them with cleaning spray and blot the cleaner and soils with a white, folded, terry cloth towel. Repeat this process until you see no more soils coming from your carpet. While your carpet and mats dry, clean the rest of your interior. Vacuum one more time to remove any residual product, lint or dust that may have settled as you cleaned the interior.
If you’re like most drivers, your carpet will require a deep cleaning about four times a year. For the sake of convenience, just integrate this step into your overall car detailing routine. Start with the interior surfaces. Remove and shake out your floor mats. Then, vacuum your carpet and mats to remove as much loose soil as possible. Follow that up with a good, heavy-duty carpet cleaner for cars. We recommend Power Out! Carpet & Mat Cleaner. This powerful foaming solution penetrates deep into your carpet fibers to break up the toughest grease and soils and neutralizes unpleasant odors at the molecular level.
Just spray the carpet and mats to saturate them with Power Out! foam. Then, use the integrated scrubber brush to get the foam deep into the nap, breaking up deeply embedded soils. Using any of the available shampoo or steam cleaning machines for carpet, extract the foam and soils from the carpet and mats. Or use a white, folded, terry cloth towel to blot up the cleaning solution and soils. Continue spraying and blotting until the carpet is clean and soils no longer wick into the towel. Vacuum again to remove all cleaning solution residue, which will dry to a powder.
The chemistry of your carpet cleaning product is important. Some surfactants, the ingredients that break up tough soils, leave a stubborn residue on carpet fibers. This residue can actually attract new soils, leaving your carpets dirtier in the long run than when you started. This process is called resoiling.
In order to avoid resoiling, be sure to choose a cleaner that will not leave residue on or in your carpet. For example, all of the surfactants that Turtle Wax uses in its upholstery and carpet cleaners either evaporate into the air or dry to a powder within minutes of application. You simply vacuum away the powder for a longer-lasting clean.
Follow this simple mix of light- and heavy-duty cleaning and your car interior will look great year-round. And just as importantly, you’ll make life easier on yourself when it comes time to detail!
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