Cleaning car upholstery: This is how car seats get clean again in a flash

Whether it’s spilled coffee, dried chocolate stains or paw prints from your beloved four-legged friend – anyone who travels a lot by car knows the stubborn marks of everyday life on the car seats. Even drinking water can leave unsightly marks on the upholstery. However, stains in car upholstery can often be removed in just a few simple steps. We’ll give you step-by-step instructions and other helpful tips and tricks to make your car seats look like new again in no time.

How can car upholstery be cleaned?

Dirt in the car seats can often be removed with home remedies, special sprays or a steam cleaner . However, the choice of cleaning agent depends on the type of seat cover. With fabric upholstery, you have the choice of foam sprays, steam cleaners, shaving foam, delicate detergents or even vinegar, as the material surface is less sensitive . 

steam cleaner car upholstery
For leather seats, you should use mild cleaners and a leather care product to protect the surface of the car seats

By the way: Even a four-legged friend on board can put a lot of strain on the car upholstery. We’ll tell you how to transport your dog safely in the car and at the same time protect the seat cushions.

Home remedies for stains on car upholstery

You do not necessarily need a special branded upholstery cleaner to get the upholstery of the car seats clean again . Because you can also get rid of many stains on the seats with classic household remedies such as vinegar, detergent or shaving foam. We tell you which home remedies help and how they are used .

laundry detergent

A mild detergent for textiles is suitable for removing stains from car upholstery . Simply add a small amount of detergent to warm to hot water and use a soft-bristled brush to work the cleaning mixture into the upholstery. Make sure that you work in the cleaner over the entire surface and not at specific points to prevent unsightly edges on the car seats. In the next step, remove the loosened dirt with a clean and slightly damp microfiber cloth. You may have to repeat the process once or twice for stubborn stains . Then take a new clean cloth and pat the treated area dry.

car upholstery cleaning
To avoid marks on the car seats, always treat the entire surface and not just the stain when cleaning the upholstery


Vinegar also has a reliable effect on stains and water marks on car upholstery . To do this, first add a few tablespoons to lukewarm water. Then take a clean microfiber cloth and briefly soak it in the mixture . Then dab the cloth over a large area on the stain and let it work for a few minutes. Then take another clean microfiber cloth and wipe the treated area with clear water.

By the way: A vinegar-water mixture not only helps with dirt on the car seats, but also in eliminating odors in the upholstery.

shaving cream

Another home remedy for upholstery cleaning is commercial shaving cream . It is especially effective for grease and water stains . To do this, simply spray the shaving foam onto the seat cushions and leave it to work for about 30 minutes . Then dab the treated areas with a clean, damp cloth and you’re done.

Utensils required for upholstery cleaning in the car

You need the following utensils to quickly and easily remove dirt and stains from car upholstery.

  • Soft upholstery or carpet brush
  • Mild upholstery cleaners or home remedies
  • Bucket of lukewarm to hot water
  • Clean microfiber towels
  • vacuum cleaner
  • Optional: gloves
  • Optional: Wet vacuum cleaner (spray extraction device) and distilled water

Step-by-step instructions for cleaning fabric car upholstery

  1. preparation

    Before you start with the actual upholstery cleaning, the interior of the vehicle should be emptied and mucked out as far as possible so that you have enough space for cleaning the seats.

  2. Pre-treat car seats

    Then simply apply some upholstery cleaner to the seat upholstery and work it into the seat upholstery with a soft upholstery brush. Repeat the process until all dirt has been removed or loosened.

  3. Clean car upholsteryThen wipe up the loosened dirt with a slightly damp microfiber cloth . In the case of heavy soiling, such as sticky drinks or unpleasant odours, you should at best use a wet vacuum cleaner . You can borrow this from hardware stores or drugstores. Simply fill the cleaning device with distilled water and a suitable cleaning agent . Then moisten the car seat with the spray function of the device and work the cleaner in with a soft brush in the next step. Last but not least, suck all residues and dirt out of the car seat with the wet vacuum cleaner until no more liquid can be seen.

  4. Drying the cleaned car upholstery So that the damp spots on the seat upholstery dry faster, we recommend dabbing the treated areas thoroughly dry with another clean microfibre cloth.

  • car upholstery wet vacuum cleaner
    Care with the wet vacuum cleaner also requires optimal pre-cleaning of the car upholstery

    By the way: With a steam cleaner, you can even thoroughly clean the seat cushions in the car with light soiling without any chemicals. You do not need a special upholstery cleaner for this, just water. Note, however, that you only clean the car upholstery with hot steam for five to ten minutes so as not to damage the surface.

    Tips & tricks for optimal cleaning and care of seat upholstery

    Proper cleaning and care of the car upholstery is particularly important to slow down the wear and tear of the fabric surface . We will tell you 5 helpful tips and tricks for a long service life.

    • Test the upholstery cleaner in advance on a small, non-visible spot on the car upholstery
    • Remove new stains quickly
    • Use little water when cleaning upholstery
    • Clean the car seats extensively at regular intervals – at least two to three times a year
    • A certain residual moisture always remains. You can simply leave the windows open a little overnight to speed up dehumidification

    Cleaning leather seats: With our tips on how to properly clean and care for leather seats, you can remove any dirt in no time at all.

    upholstery cleaning car
    Always use clean cloths to avoid rubbing the dirt back into the car upholstery

    This is how you prevent dirt on the car upholstery

    In order to be able to maintain the condition of the cleaned car seats, we will give you three helpful tips and tricks that can prevent renewed dirt on the car upholstery.

    textile impregnation

    Impregnating car seats prevents liquids and other dirt from settling into the upholstery as quickly . These impregnation sprays are predominantly water-repellent and ideal for textiles that are exposed to heavy loads. Simply dust and clean the car seats completely and then apply the impregnation spray. Make sure all windows and doors in the vehicle are open while using the spray .

    seat covers

    Nowadays there are suitable protective covers for almost every vehicle model . The seat covers can be easily cleaned with a textile wash in the washing machine. The seat cushions underneath stay clean and are protected from dirt and wear and tear . Car seat covers can be particularly useful for families with children and pets .

    Clean microfiber towels

    Always carry clean towels with you so that you can immediately blot spilled liquids such as coffee, water or juice dry. This prevents the liquid from penetrating the entire seat cushion and creating unpleasant odors at the same time .

    By the way: Find out in our article “Cleaning rims” why regular cleaning of car rims is important and how you can clean them optimally.

    Favorable leasing offers with high-quality car seats

    Regular cleaning and care is crucial for the seat upholstery in the car. This is the only way to slow down the wear and tear of the car upholstery. This applies equally to fabric and leather seats. Speaking of leather seats: Incidentally, on you will find cheap leasing offers for cars with high-quality leather interiors from our partner dealers throughout Germany. With us you not only secure attractive offers for all brands and models , but also flexible contract conditions . You can easily adjust the down payment, number of kilometers and contract duration to your individual needs. Convince yourself and discover oneattractive leasing deal for your dream car!

Leave a Reply