car seat wash and interior cleaning
Vehicle maintenance

All About Car Seat Wash – How to Clean & Shine

Over time your car gets dirty, this is an unavoidable fact of life. It can be expensive to get the interior of your car cleaned by a professional service. It is far better to learn how to clean your seats yourself to avoid unnecessary expenses. DIY car seat wash can be exciting if you know how.

What Are The Different Types Car Seat Covering Materials?

There are different car seat wash cleaning materials and chemical solutions to use based on what kind of material you have on your car seats. There are seven main types of materials that typically cover car and truck seats, they are:

  • Leather
  • Vinyl
  • PVC fabric
  • Nylon fabric
  • Polyester
  • Faux leather
  • Faux Vinyl

How to Clean Your Vehicle Seats Based on Material

We will go over each type of covering and how to clean it the best way because each one is slightly different. To make sure you are doing it safely as not to damage your seats, it is smart to use only recommended cleaning solutions for each material type.

Car Seat Wash – Cleaning Leather Car Seats Safely

First, make sure the seats have no dirt or debris on them by vacuuming them off with a soft brush tip on the vacuum hose, so you do not scratch the leather. Next, you wipe the seats down with a safe cleaning solution. There are commercially made leather car seat wash cleaners out there that will work. However, the cheapest way to do it is to use normal soap and an incredibly soft rag.

The key is to use only a small amount of dish soap and warm water. One-part soap to five parts water will be safe. Once you wipe down the seats with the soapy rag, dry it off immediately so the water does not have time to fully soak in. When you are done, wipe the seats down again with a new soft towel and they will be clean and undamaged.

If you have a particularly dirty or scuffed area of your leather seat, you can use an incredibly soft bristle toothbrush and some natural toothpaste along with plenty of water to scrub the area clean. This will clean any stubborn dirt and even hide scuffs.

Learn how to condition your leather seats here!

How to Get Vinyl Seats Clean

Much like leather (or any other surface) before you get into the cleaning, the surface needs to be free of dirt or dust. Take a broom or towel and wipe down all the seats until there is no visible dirt or dust on the surface of the seats. Once the seats are dry and free of debris, you can use normal soap and water and a soft brush. There are several particularly good cleaners made specifically for vinyl seats that will work very well.

The Best Vinyl Seat Cleaner

Any one of those cleaners will do the job. They are made just for vinyl seats and will give your seats a deep cleaning and deodorizing. Soap will work well too, but these cleaners will do a better job if your seats are extra dirty and have stubborn spots that soap will not get out on its own. Take a small amount of the cleaning solution and scrub the dirty seats until there are no more visible spots or stains. Once the seats are clean, use a dry soft towel and wipe them down completely until they are totally dry and shiny.

Car Seat Wash – PVC Fabric Seat Cleaning Method

PVC and vinyl are confused with each other all the time, but they are not the same material. PVC is a more inexpensive material and is created from the core materials in vinyl, in fact, PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. Vinyl is a radical of ethane.

Even though these two materials are not the exact same thing, they can be cleaned in much the same way. Before any solution or water is applied, make sure that the seats are dry and free of debris. Once the seats are completely dust-free, use some of the vinyl cleaners above or a mixture of soap and water on a soft rag and scrub the seats down. Spend some extra time on any spots of the seat that are extra dirty or stained. Dry off the seats as soon as you can with a dry soft rag or towel.

Nylon Fabric

Nylon fabric is the tightly woven (sometimes shiny) covering that is on many kinds of car seats. Nylon is a plastic material with long heavy molecules. The material is used in parachutes, stockings, clothing, and of course, many car seats. Like any of the materials described here, you could use soapy water to clean your nylon seats, but there are a few home remedies that will help make your seats even cleaner.

First, make sure you vacuum the seats and take a slightly damp rag and clean off all the dust and dirt. Once it is ready follow the next step.

Mix a cup with a few drops of Dawn dish soap and a capful of white vinegar with warm water. Mix it all up and dip a soft-bristled cleaning brush into the solution. With the wet brush scrub the seats in a circular motion all over. If you see any stains, you can add a few extra drops of vinegar to the stains and scrub them for an extended time with the brush until the stain starts to go away. Be careful not to use too much vinegar if your seats are very dark.

Car Seat Wash – Cleaning Polyester Seats

Polyester seats are the ones that tend to feel a little fuzzy when you touch them. This material is also a man-made material that is made of plastic. This material is very forgiving as far as what you can use to clean it. Typically, the best solution for this kind of seat is going to be either dish soap or laundry soap mixed with water.

Make sure to wipe down or vacuum the seats first and remove any dirt or dust sitting on the surface. Get a plastic cleaning brush like the ones you would use to scrub a bathtub or kitchen sink. Scrub the soapy water into the seats removing all the dirty spots. Make sure to dry your seats as soon as possible so the water does not sink into the foam underneath. If the foam does become saturated, it could take a few hours to completely dry.

Car Seat Wash -Faux Leather / Faux Vinyl (leatherette) Seats

Like all seats, make sure you get all the surface dirt off the seats before you do any cleaning. The best way to make sure you get all the dust down in the cracks is to use a vacuum cleaner with a brush on the head of the vacuum hose.

Once the seats are fully free of dust cleaning can begin. You want to be careful with faux leather because it can rip easily. The safest way to clean it is with a soft rag and a small amount of laundry soap or dish soap. For this material, it is not recommended to use a scrub brush because it can scratch the delicate material. A soft rag with soapy water is going to be the best bet for this kind of seat.  If you have a particularly bad stain you can use a solution of 50% alcohol and 50% water to clean the stain and dry it off immediately.