How to Clean Car Carpet by Hand

How to Clean Car Carpet by Hand

When thinking about what makes a car look good, carpet probably wouldn’t be the first thing to come to mind, yet clean footwells are a central part of a good-looking interior. Auto carpet takes a lot of abuse from anything on the soles of your shoes, like cinders, mud, sand, salt, or gum. Untreated carpets can suffer damage and irreversible stains, so routine rug detailing is essential. This post will share the most effective cleaning process to treat your car’s carpeting successfully.

To clean your car carpet by hand: Remove floor mats, vacuum up large debris, spray a carpet & upholstery cleaner, scrub with a medium bristle brush, and lightly blot with a microfiber towel to remove lingering residue and dirt.

What you’ll need

You’ll want to pick up the following items to clean your carpeting. These tools will last through many cleanings, making them well worth their purchase prices.

  • A vacuum - either a household or shop vac will work. (If a vacuum is unavailable, use a dustpan and broom.)
  • Car & upholstery cleaner
  • Medium bristle brush
  • Microfiber towels

Remove floor mats

You must remove all your floor mats before applying any product. Cleaning car carpeting requires navigating vacuum attachments into difficult and tight angles, so you’ll want all the room you can get. Take your mats out of the vehicle, lightly pat them to remove dust and small debris, and then set them aside.

Vacuum up large debris

Remove all large objects by hand, then vacuum the carpet to remove visible dirt. Use straight, long motions with the vacuum cleaner. As you complete this step, don’t worry too much about deep dirt or stains; focus on clearing dry, small debris.
If you don’t have a vacuum, use a standard dustpan and brush to remove most debris in a pinch. Use the brush to push the dirt into a singular line, then use the dustpan to scoop up and remove it.

Once you’ve removed all loose, dry surface debris, move on to the next step.

Spray a carpet and upholstery cleaner

We recommend conducting a spot test before cleaning with a new carpet and upholstery cleaning product. A spot test is a small-scale test to check how the product reacts with your surfaces in an out-of-sight area. To perform a spot test on your car carpeting, spray a small amount of cleaner underneath one of the seats. If using a tried-and-true cleaning product, you may skip the spot test.

Spray a conservative amount of cleaning product onto your car carpet. We recommend starting with a little and scaling up as needed. You may find that you’ll need to use more cleanser on areas with caked-on mud or heavy stains.

Consider Stoner Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner if you need a safe, effective cleaner. Stoner’s product features a foaming action that allows the solution to remain on the surface of your carpet, providing time for the cleaner to lift dirt and debris to the surface while preventing it from soaking in and excessively dampening the rug.

Scrub your carpets with a medium bristle brush

We recommend a medium-bristle brush for general cleaning because its bristles are strong enough to reach deep within the carpet yet gentle so that you don’t risk damaging your carpets. Though manufacturers make the carpet more durable than seat material, you should still carefully select cleaning tools for your rugs.

Save the areas with the most foot traffic for last; they will be the dirtiest. Begin by cleaning underneath the seats and work your way into more open spaces. A flashlight or cell phone light will help you to see all carpeted areas.
Use your brush to agitate the foamed areas, using a back-and-forth scrubbing motion. Use minimal pressure; the cleaning solution should lift dirt to the surface where you can wipe it away quickly. Excessive scrubbing can make strains worse and harder to remove.

Lightly blot with a microfiber towel to remove lingering residue and dirt

Once you’ve agitated your carpet with a medium bristle brush, take a dry microfiber towel and lightly blot the cleaned area. Microfibers feature many tiny fibers that quickly attract small dirt or dust particles. Lay a microfiber towel over the scrubbed rug and lightly blot it. Avoid rubbing or pushing the microfiber into the carpeting. You want to pick up any debris, not re-deposit it into your carpet fibers.

If any dirt or stain remains, repeat the cleaning process on the area using additional cleaner and more agitation with a brush.

Allow time for drying

After you clean and blot your carpets, allow them to dry thoroughly. Increase air circulation by opening your vehicle’s doors, windows, or sunroof. Wait about an hour before replacing the floor mats to ensure your rugs have fully dried.

Enjoy your clean carpet!

Your car’s carpet takes more than its share of abuse and is susceptible to contaminants you and your passengers track in from the outside. You can keep your rugs looking fresh by using this cleaning process every few weeks: Remove floor mats, vacuum up large debris, spray a carpet & upholstery cleaner, scrub with a medium bristle brush, and lightly blot with a microfiber towel to remove lingering residue and dirt. A little effort will go a long way toward helping your auto floors clean and your cabin debris free. Enjoy the ride!

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