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How to Clean Car Seats at Home, the Easy Way

Here’s How to Clean Car Seats at Home, the Easy Way with my new favorite cleaner. This even worked on my gross chocolate milk covered seats!

How to Clean Car Seats at Home

Who else has been staying busy with DIY and home cleaning projects during lock down? There’s not much else to do, right?

Today, I’m excited to show you how to clean car seats at home, the easy way! Turns out it’s actually pretty easy to clean dirty car upholstery. And, my cloth car seats were really gross.

In fact, I hate to admit that those chocolate milk stains on my backseat have been building up for 5 years.

In my defense, the car seats have been mostly covering them up. Which just helped me ignore them all this time. 😉

But, on the plus side, now I get to share with you the easy steps for how to clean car seats fabric yourself.

Before and After using a Bissell Portable Cleaner on Cloth Car Seats.
Look at this amazing before and after from deep cleaning my car seats. I was shocked at how well this worked with just the standard cleaner.

Why I Use The Bissell Spot Clean Pro

I want to say, I have not been paid for this blog post by Bissell. And, I was not given free product to do this either.

I bought this Bissell SpotClean after a neighbor recommended it. And, I honestly liked the results.

If you want to learn more about your Bissell, check out this post on Which Cleaners You Can Use in a Bissell Spot Cleaner, including alternative options.

Turns out, I guess I’m a Bissell fan because I just realized that my favorite $100 Vacuum is a Bissell and the Steam Mop I use on my tile is a Bissell too. So, maybe Bissell should pay me. 😉

After checking out this post, you might also like these home cleaning tutorials: how to clean marble shower tile, how to install a new toilet handle, and a video for how to easily replace your toilet seat with one of those fantastic soft close lids.

You can also find an easy way to clean shower glass without any store bought cleaners.

Written steps and a how to video showing how to Clean Car Seats at Home, the Easy Way with a portable Bissell SpotClean Pro. This even worked on my gross chocolate milk covered seats!
Don’t forget to save this DIY on Pinterest!

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What To Use to Clean Car Seats At Home

There are lots of products that can clean your car seats. But I didn’t think scrubbing old chocolate milk stains would be easy…or fun. So, I went with the easiest option I could find. Here’s what I used.

SCROLL DOWN for 4 household cleaning products you can use to clean car seats if you don’t have a Bissell SpotClean or similar upholstery cleaner. 🙂

Step by Step Video

How to Clean Car Seats at Home using a Bissell SpotClean Pro Portable Cleaner


How to Clean Car Seats Fabric Yourself

Quick Overview

  1. Vacuum Seats and Carpeting
  2. Pre-Treat Stains
  3. Use Upholstery Cleaner on Seats & Carpet
  4. Drying Time
Here’s the super disgusting before photo, guys. Those seats are covered in years of kids chocolate milk and other random spills. What can I say, I’m not a car person. I keep a clean house, but never, ever think about my car unless I’m in it.

Step One – Vacuum

Start by giving your car a good vacuum. The Bissell Spot Clean Pro and other upholstery cleaners are designed to suck up fluids. So, vacuum up all of that loose dirt first.

I use a small dust brush to sweep loose dirt out of any tight spots the vacuum can’t reach.

Step Two – Pre-treat Stains

Now that your car has been vacuumed, you can use a Pre-Treat Spot Cleaner on any tough stains that you think might need it.

If you watch my video above, you’ll see that I didn’t use one. But, I plan to next time I clean my car to see if it gets a few small spots that still need more work.

Bissell makes 2 pre-treats that they recommend for stains, including one for stubborn pet stains. I’ll go over those in the Deep Clean section below these steps.

Let spot cleaners work for 3 minutes before moving to step three.

Written steps and a how to video showing how to Clean Car Seats at Home, the Easy Way with a portable Bissell SpotClean Pro. This even worked on my gross chocolate milk covered seats!
I love watching all of that dirty water getting sucked right out of those seats!

Step Three – Use Upholstery Cleaner on Seats & Carpet

Here’s where the fun starts! Add the hot tap water and 2 ounces of cleaner into the Bissell Spot Cleaner, per instructions.

Then start spraying the cleaning solution on and sucking up those stains!

I think it’s best to spray an area and suck up all of that liquid, then repeat until that section looks clean.

Lightly push the Bissell attachment you’re using into the area you’re cleaning to keep strong suction on that area.

Also, don’t let the liquid soak in for more than a few minutes on seats. I’m always afraid that will just let the liquid soak too deep into the foam for the cleaner to reach.

I also think that, for really dirty seats, like mine, clean the whole seat. That way you aren’t left with a weird line of dirty water between the area you cleaned and the area you didn’t.

Use a clean rag with a bit of the cleaning solution sprayed on to hand clean any small or hard to reach spots.

Step Four – Dry Time

After soaking up the excess liquid with the upholstery cleaner, let your car air dry. That’ll be faster on warm, low humidity days. Leave the doors and windows open, if you can.

My car was completely dry in a couple of hours on a day when it was sunny and around mid-80’s.


That’s pretty much it for how to clean car seats at home, guys. It really is pretty simple.

BUT, if you have really stubborn stains, keep reading for tips for a deep clean.

Yasss!! These fabric car seats are looking a-mazing for the first time in probably 5, maybe 6 years. Before putting the car seats back in, I covered this back seat with a thick beige towel to help protect the upholstery from future stains. 🙂

How Do You Get Stains Out Of Cloth Car Seats

First, read the short User Guide that comes with the Bissell SpotClean. This machine is great for car seats, car floors, stairs in your home, carpet, rugs (see how I clean my area rugs here), and even furniture.

You can find a great tutorial for how to clean a couch at home too.

But some upholstery, like furniture with velvet fabric, can’t be cleaned with a power cleaner. So, check the user guide before using this cleaner on anything. 🙂

Which Household Products Can I Use On Car Seats?

If you don’t have a Bissell Spot Cleaner, you can still do a pretty great job of cleaning up those dirty cloth car seats. You can use spray on upholstery cleaners (these have high ratings on Amazon).

These household products can be great car upholstery cleaners too. Just be sure to test on a hidden area first.

Rubbing Alcohol

You can use Isopropyl Alcohol at 70% strength mixed with water as a good disinfectant cleaner too. Mix the alcohol with hot tap water at a ratio of 30% to 50% alcohol to water.

Spray on to lightly saturate. Then use a clean, dry towel to scrub and soak up the cleaner. Be sure to use with the car doors and windows open!

White Vinegar

You can also try a 20% mixture of white vinegar with 80% hot water to clean your cloth car seats at home. Spray on the mixture or use a saturated clean rag to apply the mixture into the stain.

Then use a drill brush to scrub dirt and stains out of the car seats or carpet. Use clean water to rinse away the vinegar mixture before drying the seats by applying pressure with dry towels.

Club Soda

Spray the club soda onto the dirty cloth car seats. Then use a clean rag to scrub the stains. OR these easy to use drill brushes to quickly and easily scrub away stains.

Finish by soaking up the liquid by pressing on the seat with a clean, dry towel until it’s mostly dry. Let the rest air dry.

Hot Water

If you want to skip all chemicals, cleaners, or trips to buy something at the store, you can try just hot water to deep clean car seats at home.

Get a clean rag wet with hot water, be sure to protect your skin. Then saturate the stain with hot water.

Hot water is great at loosening up a lot of dirt and stains. Use a drill brush with the hot water to help scrub away tough stains.

Finish by soaking up the liquid by pressing on the seat with a clean, dry towel until it’s mostly dry. Let the rest air dry.

Check out this post on What You Can Use in a Bissell Spot Cleaner for more tips on safe alternative cleaning products.

How Do You Deep Clean Dirty Car Seats

Some stains are a lot tougher to clean than others. Like grass stains, blood, grape juice and pet stains.

Luckily, Bissell has some pretreat options to help you deep clean fabric car seats, even if they are extremely dirty.

Though, I can’t imagine they get much dirtier than mine were. LOL.

The Bissell Professional Power Shot Oxy is their top of the line spot cleaner. It looks like the best option for almost any stain.

It claims it can get rid of stains AND ODORS in 30 seconds. If you have ever had a pet, you know that getting rid of the odor is actually the hard part. Yikes!

You don’t have to use the Bissell SpotClean Pro with this Power Shot Oxy pretreat.

You can just spray this on, per instructions. Let it sit for the recommended time. Then blot up all of the excess cleaner with a dry rag.

For my favorite tips for keeping your car seats clean longer, check out the Best Way to Deep Clean Car Seats!

How to Clean Car Seats At Home

Written steps and a how to video showing how to Clean Car Seats at Home, the Easy Way with a portable Bissell SpotClean Pro. This even worked on my gross chocolate milk covered seats!
Here's How to Clean Car Seats at Home, the Easy Way. This even worked on my gross chocolate milk covered seats!

Instructions

    Easy Steps to Clean You Car Seats

    Quick Overview

    1. Vacuum Seats and Carpeting
    2. Pre-Treat Stains
    3. Use Upholstery Cleaner on Seats & Carpet
    4. Drying Time

    Start by giving your car a good vacuum. The Bissell cleaner is designed to suck up fluids. So, vacuum up all of that loose dirt first.

    I use a small dust brush to sweep loose dirt out of any tight spots the vacuum can’t reach.

    Now that your car has been vacuumed, you can use a Pre-Treat Spot Cleaner on any tough stains that you think might need it.

    If you watch my video above, you’ll see that I didn’t use one. But, I plan to next time I clean my car to see if it gets a few small spots that still need more work.

    Here’s where the fun starts! Add the hot tap water and 2 ounces of cleaner into the Bissell Spot Cleaner, per instructions.

    Then start spraying the cleaning solution on and sucking up those stains! I think it’s best to spray an area and suck up all of that liquid, then repeat until that section looks clean.

    Lightly push the Bissell attachment you’re using into the area you’re cleaning to keep strong suction on that area.

    Also, don’t let the liquid soak in for more than a few minutes on seats. I’m always afraid that will just let the liquid soak too deep into the foam for the cleaner to reach.

    I also think that, for really dirty seats, like mine, clean the whole seat. That way you aren’t left with a weird line of dirty water between the area you cleaned and the area you didn’t.

    Use a clean rag with a bit of the cleaning solution sprayed on to hand clean any small or hard to reach spots.

    That’s pretty much it for how to clean car seats at home, guys. It really is pretty simple. BUT, if you have really stubborn stains, keep reading for tips for a deep clean.

Notes

Read the short User Guide that comes with the Bissell SpotClean. This machine is great for car seats, car floors, stairs in your home, carpet, rugs (see how I clean my area rugs here), and even furniture.

But some upholstery, like furniture with velvet fabric, can’t be cleaned with a power cleaner. So, check the user guide before using this cleaner on anything.

Well, I hope that helped you decide how to clean car seats at home. Good luck!

If you are looking for more DIY Home Cleaning videos, check out these easy DIY Cleaning Hacks on my YouTube Channel.


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That’s it for how to clean car seats fabric yourself. Let me know if you have questions. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.

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