How To Clean Your Car Seats With Soap And Water

I always wondered if I could clean my car seats with soap and water. I mean, it’s a pretty cheap solution, if it’s possible of course. So I tried it and:

Yes, you can clean your cloth, vinyl, and leather car seats with soap and water without damaging them. If you have stains on your car seats you can add some baking soda. Make sure you choose a sunny day so your car seats will dry completely.

I feel like this topic requires more than just a clarification that you can clean your seats with soap and water. Let me explain Why and How you can clean your car seatsOpens in a new tab.


Why Is It Important To Clean Your Car Seats

Most vehicle owners take care of their price possession. Some owners do it for the looks, some owners just hate germs. It doesn’t matter why they do it as long as they do it. Here are some reasons why you should keep your interior/car seats clean:

  1. There are twice as much bacteria on car seats than toilets: This information might come as a shock to you, but it’s true. All of us eat while driving. We drink fluids too. So, tiny pieces of food fall on the seats and just sit there. The University of Birmingham examined random car seats and found around 100 potentially dangerous bacteria as well as fungi. This is double the germs found on a toilet seat. Now, I know that we sit on the toilet seat with bare skin, therefore coming in direct contact with the bacteria, but some of us sit wear short pants/skirts while driving. Even wearing jeans is an issue. After driving you will sit on your couch and contaminate it.
  2. Allergies: There are many types of allergies, and one of them being a dust allergy. Imagine picking up your friend/girlfriend who is allergic to dust. You will make them sick instantly.
  3. Retain Price Value: There will come a point in life when you will have to sell your car for whatever reason. A well-kept interior will only increase the price.

How To Clean Your Leather Car Seats

Leather car seats are expensive and require a delicate approach. There are so many ways you can destroy your leather car seats. This is why I need you to follow my instructions.

  1. Gather your supplies: You will need water, hand soap, olive oil, and soft rags. Before starting, make sure you do a small test-clean on some hidden place just to make sure your seats won’t lighten.
  2. Soak the rag: Soak the rag into the mixture and then squeeze out the excess water.
  3. Rub the rag: Start rubbing your car seats. Start in the area where there are stains, as you will need to apply strength. After you finish with rubbing, dampen another clean rag with just water and wipe the car seat to make sure there is no soap residue over it.
  4. Dry rag: Before moving on, wipe your car seat with a dry rag. Also, open your car doors and just leave the car for 30 minutes to dry.
  5. Condition leather: Remember I mentioned olive oil? This is where you will use it. Olive oil is a great leather conditioner. It will give it the shine it needs.

Commercial Products For Cleaning Leather Seats

  • Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner: Seems like all Meguiar’s products are a win-win. This product is created to be dirt fighting cleaner and moisturizer. I managed to clean my interior with one full bottle.
  • Chemical Guys Leather Conditioner and Cleaner: This product is a premium among ordinary off the shelf products. This is a great product for use in cheap and fine leather. I haven’t personally used this product, but a friend of mine recommended it to me.
  • Lexol Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Kit: This kit comes in 3 separate bottles, all with different task – Clean, condition, protect. I have used this product and I am very satisfied with the results.
  • Leather Honey Leather Cleaner: This product is leather of all kinds. This cleaner is very strong to be used as is, which is why you will need to dilute it. Ratio: 4 oz cleaner with 28 oz water.

How To Clean Your Vinyl Car Seats

Vinyl seats are very comfortable. But like any other seats, they need to be cleaned every now and then. Make sure you use soft sponges or rags.

  1. Maintenance instructions: Before you start, make sure you read your vinyl seats maintenance instructions. Every vinyl seat is different from the others.
  2. Cushions: If your seats have removable cushions, remove them before you start. Clean the cushions separately.
  3. Soft cleaning implements: Make sure you are using soft cleaning implements like soft sponges, soft-bristled brushes or dishcloths. If you use shart cleaning tools you will probably tear your vinyl seats.
  4. Distilled water: Start off by dipping a sponge into distilled water, then wipe your seats.
  5. Soap and water: Mix mild dish soap with some water. Dip your soft cleaning implement into the mixture. Scrub the vinyl seats until you get the results you want.
  6. DO NOT USE: Please, do not use abrasive cleaning products like undeluded bleach, concentrated detergents, waxes, petroleum distillates, solvents, acid-based cleaners. Vinyl is a pretty tough material, but these cleaners will certainly destroy your seats.

Commercial Products For Cleaning Vinyl Seats

  • KevianClean Interior: This is a 3in1 product. It cleans, conditions and polishes. Provides UV protection and can be used for cars, trucks, boats & RV’s. The good thing is that it has no toxic fumes and chemical irritants.
  • CarGuys Super Cleaner: This product does a great job. Can be used to clean stains and condition your seats.
  • 303: Brightens surfaces and keeps them looking like new. Provides superior UV protection, repels dust and cleans stains.

How To Clean Your Cloth Car Seats

There is no need to take your car to get detailed. You can clean your cloth seats by yourself. Just follow these steps:

  1. Vacuum: First, start with a vacuum. Remove all the debris and dirt. Make sure you vacuum them good.
  2. Spray a cleaning solution: Use a cloth cleaning product. Avoid using an all-purpose cleaner. Try not to over-spray your seats. 4-5 sprays are enough.
  3. Brush: Make sure you start brushing immediately after spraying with the cleaning solution. Please use a soft stiff interior brush.
  4. Wipe: Use a microfiber towel to wipe the seats after brushing them.
  5. Repeat: Repeat the cleaning process until you get the results you want.
  6. Vacuum: After completing all the tasks, make sure you vacuum the seats again. Leave the seats to dry if needed.

Commercial Products For Cleaning Cloth Seats

  • Meguiar’s G9719 Cleaner: This is one of the best cleaners on the market. Removes stains and bad smells. All you have to do is spray the seats and wait for 10 minutes. After, brush your seats and then vacuum them.
  • Turtle Wax T440r2W: Turtle Wax contains a triple action formula. It can clean stains from coffee, ketchup, and oil. The product comes with a microfiber towel to wipe the seats after applying the cleaning solution.
  • Mothers 05424 Cleaner: This product is perfect for all car fabric. It has a pH-balanced formula which means that it will not discolor your seats.

How To Clean Your Child’s Car Seat

First things first. If you have a children’s car seat made before the year 2000, do not use it. Children’s car seats have a lifespan of 10-15 years. There is actually an expiration date on the manual that comes with the seat. Make sure you are cleaning the seat at least once a month. Here is how:

  1. Vacuum the car seat thoroughly.
  2. Remove the cover and wash it in your clothes washer.
  3. Use a detergent that you usually use for your child’s clothes.
  4. Air-dry the seat. Do not expose it to a direct sunlight.
  5. Vacuum it once again, and then wipe it with a baby wipe.
  6. Try doing this at least once a month.

How To Make Your Car Allergy-Proof

There are a few steps that you need to follow in order to make your car allergy-proof:

  1. Clean your car at least twice a month. Clean any spills and messes the moment they occur. Also, avoid eating in your car. Never keep trash inside your car.
  2. Vacuum your car whenever you have free time. After vacuuming, use a disinfectant spray and spray your seats and floor.
  3. Wipe your dashboard and your steering wheelOpens in a new tab.
  4. Avoid getting in the car with dirty shoes. Keep a separate plastic container to store your dirty shoes.
  5. Close your windows while driving in the countryside due to pollen from the trees.
  6. If you have pets, try to keep them in a carrying case.
  7. Replace your AC filters regularly.
  8. Replace your floor mats with plastic or rubber.
  9. If possible, switch to leather seats as they are easy to cleanOpens in a new tab.
  10. Avoid buying air fresheners that could cause nasal irritation.

I really hope you find this information useful. Also, make sure to tell me your favorite method of cleaning your car seatsOpens in a new tab.

Igor Iwanowski

I am a certified Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) mechanic since 2018. I specialize in Brake systems, dashboard warning lights, EGRs, general engine problems, EVAP and Emissions issues.

Recent Posts