How To Get Stains Out of Car Seats & Upholstery

Car seats getting stained is a cause of worry for many people. They can be difficult to clean and using the right cleaning agent as per the material is very important or you could risk spoiling the upholstery.

It’s difficult to avoid staining unless you check every person who gets in your car with a microscope and continue to monitor their activities.

And despite all that effort, you sometimes just can’t avoid staining, when things are out of your control. Here are some tips to help you when this happens.

How To Clean Different Types Of Upholstery

  • To Clean Fabric Upholstery

    Vinegar, as many would agree, is a gift to mankind when it comes to cleaning something.

    • A solution of vinegar mixed with the right ingredients will make for cleaning agents for just about anything. Car Upholstery is no different.
    • When your fabric seat upholstery gets dirty all you need is vinegar and your average dish soap.
    • The procedure is extremely simple. Simply mix one cupful of vinegar and a little dish soap and add one gallon of hot water into it. This makes your cleaning agent.
    • Now all you need is a bristle brush, preferably hard bristles to work on the fiber with.
    • Once you’ve brushed the mixture onto the fibers properly, let it remain as it is for half an hour.
    • Follow this by rinsing with water and blotting with some paper towel or whatever you have to dry them.
  • To Clean Leather upholstery

    Leather upholstery can be expensive. So naturally stains on leather make you worry given how difficult it can be to clean leather without damaging it.

    • However a simple solution exists. All you need is water and soap with low-pH level.
    • How to do it? Soak a cloth in water and wash it with the soap.
    • Once washed, let it dry properly. To ensure that the leather doesn’t begin cracking or drying, condition it after you wash it.
  • To Clean Vinyl Upholstery

    Baking Soda is another cleaning miracle. You can use it for almost anything. And baking soda is your go to for cleaning vinyl upholstery.

    • All you need is water, baking soda and dish soap.
    • Get a damp cloth and clean the seats with baking soda.
    • For rinsing, use water and dish soap. Many people make the mistake of using oil or mineral based cleaners. This should be avoided because these make vinyl stiff.

Different Ways Of Cleaning

  1. Vacuuming: A wet-dry Vacuum is best suited for cleaning your cars. The long cord and nozzle makes it easy to access almost any place and clean properly. Another option available are small portable vacuums. These are best suited for stain removal, but not very useful for cleaning out the car itself.
  2. Stain Removers: A stain remover must always be tested before using since some stain removers react differently to material and could ruin your upholstery.
  3. Baking Soda: Baking soda is a great cleaning agent and can be used to clean almost anything. Most useful for cleaning vinyl upholstery, baking soda can also be used to clean vomit stains, chocolate stains, dirt stains, etc.
  4. Homemade All Purpose Cleaner: Commercial cleaners can cost you a fortune to do the same thing you can do at home for a much cheaper cost. The simplest homemade stain remover is using plain water and dishwashing liquid. The instructions are as simple as it gets. Just mix equal parts of water and dishwashing liquid in a container and pour it into a spray bottle.
  5. Soap, Borax and Hot Water: Another homemade method is using a bar of soap, borax and boiling water. Simply grate a bar of soap till you have six tablespoons and add two tablespoons of borax into it. The next step is to add two cups of boiling hot water very slowly. An optional ingredient is essential oil for a good fragrance. the appropriate quantity of the essential oil would be ten drops.
  6. Steam Cleaner: These are available for rent at most grocery stores. Steam cleaners work by running hot water and immediately sucking it up from the area you’re cleaning. This extract both dirt and water from the affected area.

How To Remove Different Types Of Stains


  • Ink Stains

    Kids have an annoying habit of messing around with pens and leaving them uncapped, and this has many time left ink stains of car seats.

    • There are two very simple ways of cleaning ink stains.
    • The first method requires hairspray whereas the second requires rubbing alcohol.
    • If you chose to go with the hairspray, then simply spray the hairspray on the stain and carefully blot on the area with a clean and damp cloth.
    • In case of rubbing alcohol, just mix with water, apply and blot it dry. In both cases need to be very careful because the ink may spread or run further into the upholstery making the situation worse than it already is.
  • Oil and Grease Stains

    You often get oil stains when you accidently drop food or grease stains such as that of lipstick and the simplest thing to do is to use a paint thinner diluted with water in equal quantities. With the help of a cotton cloth dipped in the solution, rub the stain to clean it. Another thing to be done is to sprinkle either cornmeal or salt on to the stain and to let it be overnight. The next morning, simply vacuum over the stain.

  • Coffee Stains

    Coffee is an essential and in case you spill it, there’s a simple way of getting rid of it. Dilute it using cold water and blot it using a paper towel or something similar. Follow up by applying some glass cleaner and letting it be for about five minutes after which blot it again with a paper towel. In case the stain remains, then scrub it with dishwashing liquid and follow with a warm water rinse.

  • Vomit stains

    Sometimes people get carsick or throw up for whatever reason. The best thing to do in this case is to clean it up at the earliest possible.

    • Wipe it up and then dilute the stained area with cold water.
    • Wash the area with warm water and a mild soap and pour a small amount of club soda on a cloth and blot the area using it.
    • Another method is to prepare a mixture of baking soda and water in a paste form. This method will also help with the odor of the vomit.
  • Blood Stains

    Blood stains are extremely difficult to remove. A common mistake people make is to clean using hot water and soap, which can be disastrous because this only sets the stain.

    • The easiest thing to do is to blot the stain with a cloth soaked in cold water, keep re-soaking the cloth to get fresh water and blot till the stain is removed.
  • Dirt Stains

    The first thing to remember is to never use hot water. Always try to blot and clean with a cloth soaked in cold water first. If that doesn’t work then use a mild laundry detergent or soap. Baking soda is another great cleaning agent.

  • Chocolate Stains:

    Chocolate is another one of those things you should clean at the earliest possible.

    • The first thing to do is to apply ice to dry it and then scrub off whatever can be scrubbed off.
    • On a clean damp cloth, squirt some dish soap and blot carefully.
    • Another thing to try in case this doesn’t work is to use a dry cleaning solvent, which is most useful for microfiber

How To Prevent Future Stains

Stains are tedious to clean. Here are few tips to help you avoid staining your seats and to save yourself from all the effort that comes with it.

  • Limiting Food and Drinks: One common tactic applied by many people is to ban the bringing in of food and drinks into the car altogether. Simple logic, if the staining thing isn’t there, where will the stain come from?
  • Quick Cleaning: The best way to avoid staining is to clean the spill as soon as possible. The longer the spill stays, the more difficult it is to clean. Things like chocolate and oil become more difficult to clean as time passes. With most stains comes the problem of odor which can also be avoided by cleaning immediately.
  • Stain Repellants: This is other another useful product. They make it hard for the stain to settle and therefore lengthen the life and beauty of your upholstery.
  • Car Seat Covers: Car seat covers are available for $30-$40 and are available for both front seats and back seats. While purchasing car seats, it is best to check their quality and thickness of the material to ensure that you buy seat covers that actually protect your seats. They are available in a wide variety so you can buy covers matching your existing upholstery or contract with bright colors.
  • Regular Vacuums and Cleaning Sessions: Most people don’t realize that vacuuming the car and cleaning out the garbage frequently is a great way of avoid staining. If there is no incriminating object then there is no way of your upholstery getting stained.

Are you a DIY Enthusiast? Have you ever done small projects at your home, kitchen, bathroom, garage, bedroom?

You can check out our article on how to remove stains from floor or remove stains from your car seat.

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