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How to Clean Your Car Seats With Common Household Items

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Cleaning your car seats might not be your biggest priority right now, but we bet it will bump up on your list if you spot a nasty stain on the upholstery or icky gunk stuck in between the crevices. Luckily, there are some pretty easy ways to clean your car right in your driveway — no need to make a trip to the car wash!

No matter what type of seats you have in your car, Advance Auto Parts says it’s best to first give them a thorough vacuuming. A small, compact vacuum is ideal so you’re able to scoop up every last crumb. It’s also a smart idea to use a clean and damp cloth to wipe down any surface debris or grime TK AFTER YOU VACUUM OR BEFORE?. Your next steps will depend on whether you have cloth or leather car seats.

How to Clean Cloth Car Seats

If you have cloth car seats, you have a few options for DIY cleaning methods. According to Robbins Nissan, one popular solution is a simple mixture of baking soda and water. To do: Mix 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 cup warm water, then use a light layer of the solution and a toothbrush to scrub the seats. Got some seriously stubborn stains? Try letting the solution sit for about a half hour before you start scrubbing.

According to Real Simple, another tried-and-true method for cleaning cloth car seats is a mixture of 1 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 1/2 tablespoon dish soap. Put this solution in a spray bottle, spritz it on the stains, and then blot with a wet microfiber cloth until the marks are gone. If your stains are on the lighter side, you might try an even simpler cleaning method with club soda. Just put the bubbly beverage in a spray bottle and lightly spritz it on the stains before using a brush to scrub it. Then, wipe it up with a clean towel. That’s it!

Psst: If you’re not into these DIY methods, you can always purchase an upholstery cleaner for your cloth car seats. One popular option available online is the Carfidant Ultimate Car Interior Cleaner ($16.95, Amazon).

How to Clean Leather Car Seats

If you’ve got leather car seats, you’ll need to proceed with a bit more caution due to the premium quality of the material. However, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on your supplies, just be sure to test any cleaner on a small, hidden area on your leather car seats first, instructs Your Mechanic. After all, you wouldn’t want to risk making a stain worse before you even start cleaning!

According to Robbins Nissan, you can clean leather car seats by simply blotting any stains you see with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol and then washing off the area with warm water and dish soap. Hate the smell of rubbing alcohol? As an alternative, you can try dabbing a bit of non-gel toothpaste on the stain and using a toothbrush to gently scrub the mess away. If you don’t notice that many stains, you can probably just give your seats a nice scrub down with solution of 2 cups water and 5 drops dish soap, according to Real Simple. Just put the blend in a spray bottle, spritz on your seats, and wipe with a clean cloth until dry.

Again, if you don’t like the sound of these DIY cleaning methods, you can always opt to purchase a leather car-seat cleaner. One popular cleaner you can buy online is the Shine Armor Car Interior Cleaner for Car Detailing ($14.40, Amazon).

While you’d probably only need to clean cloth car seats if you see an actual mess, experts recommend cleaning leather seats several times per year (even if they look spotless) to maintain and extend the material’s life. 

But regardless of whether you have cloth or leather seats, you might consider leaving some pleasant-smelling dryer sheets in your car after you’re done cleaning. Not only will they help bring back that “new car” scent, they’ll also probably give you a fresh start to the day the next time you hop in the car. Who wouldn’t like that?

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