A Car Carpet Cleaning Guide

Cleaning the interior carpets of your car ranks up there with one of the most difficult things to do when it comes to cleaning your car. It ranks as probably the most in need of a clean area of your car but is very often neglected due to its difficulty and duration. The vast majority of people will simply vacuum their mats and carpets and that would be considered, good enough – but what about if you want more?

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Like with all things detailing, we like to go the extra mile to make sure we’ve really done the job. If we say we’re going to clean the car carpets – it means we’re going to clean them, thoroughly. In order to do so, you’ll need some equipment that goes beyond the standard which will be spoken about below with various alternatives depending on your budget and the strength of your urge to clean.

The idea of this article is to help answer a whole host of questions that often appear;

  • How do I clean filfthy car carpet?
  • How do you clean dirty car carpet?
  • How can I make my car carpet look new?
  • How do you remove stubborn stains?
  • What is best to clean car carpet?

Tools you’ll need;

Reccomended Products
Hoover/VacuumHenry Hoover/Vaccum 9 Litre, RedClick Here To Check Price
Cordless Power DrillMakita Combi DrillClick Here To Check Price
Assorted Drill BrushesSafetyon Drill BrushesClick Here To Check Price
Steam CleanerDupray NEAT Steam CleanerClick Here To Check Price
Traditional Carpet CleanerBissell SpotClean ProClick Here To Check Price
Microfibre TowelsAmazon Multi-PackClick Here To Check Price
All Purpose CleanerMeguiars D-101 All Purpose CleanerClick Here To Check Price

I mentioned earlier about your urge to clean, and with this comes a budget too. I’ve listed the tools you’ll need to give your carpets the best detailing possible, although the items aren’t particularly cheap. At a bare minimum, I would recommend everything on that list, except for the steam cleaner and traditional carpet cleaner. These are more of an icing on the cake luxury but they both help significantly. If you don’t purchase them, it’ll take you a little longer and it won’t be as clean but you will still be able to do a good job.

How do I get started?

First, you’ll need to physically remove everything from the car. Some people have more than others – I’ve seen some people with literally a few parking tickets and then you’re good to get started whilst others have coffee cups, sweets, chewing gum packets, etc the list goes on. Either way, grab yourself a bag and get ready to empty everything you possibly can. Yes, I was talking about the floor too!

Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to use your hoover. Now before you do that, remove and shake your car mats if you have any. Just because you’ve got the hoover to hand doesn’t mean be lazy and leave the floor carpets in. Remove the car mats/carpets and place them somewhere dry and out of the way – they’re to be tackled in a bit. Once the entire floor area of the car has been hoovered, you can then hoover the mats.

Now you’ll need to use a bit of judgment as to how dirty the carpets are. I’m going to imagine their in a terrible state and we need to go in full detailing mode to attempt to make the carpet look like new (at least, as new as possible). Believe me, you’ll be surprised how different the car carpet can look because with a high probability all you (or your local car wash guy) has ever done is hoover them. No one will have done a clean like we’re about to talk about!

Dupray NEAT Steam Cleaner – Image courtesy of Dupray

Get your steam cleaner, I recommend the Dupray NEAT Steam Cleaner. It’ll allow you to really clean the fibres and use no chemicals at all. The sheer power of the steam (heated up to 275°F/135°C) will easily dislodge anything in its path ready for the drill brush attachments. You’ll need to pair this with a microfibre cloth – given that we’re using it on the carpet you don’t need to use the plushest one. Amazon does a great multi-pack of 10 for a low price or use any used ones that have been cleaned prior to use for this. Once you’ve gone over your entire car’s interior and car mats, you can then proceed onto the next stage which involves the power drill and assorted drill brushes.

Using the Steam Cleaner will clean the vast majority of the dirt, but we’ve got another step to go and that’s using the cordless drill, drill brush attachments, and all-purpose cleaner. You want to ensure that the all-purpose cleaner (Meguiar’s D-101 APC) is diluted and not neat because you won’t need that much – its main purpose is to foam whilst using the drill attachment to loosen any dirt.

You have two options here – you can either use the microfibre towel to dry the carpets/mats and not put too much liquid when cleaning (otherwise you’ll end up with a waterlogged carpet that will take ages to dry and may even smell) or you can use a ‘traditional’ carpet cleaner vacuum which will extract excess water from a carpet/mat. We’ve recommended the Bissell Spotclean Pro as it has a portable wand which is perfect for cars.

If you’re on a tight budget, avoid this and stick to;

  1. Not putting on too much product.
  2. Using microfibre towels to dry the carpet.
  3. Beginning the job early in the morning giving your carpets the entire day to air out.

If you’re a business however, time is money so something like the Bissell SpotClean Pro is highly recommended as time is money!

That’s it! You should now have fully detailed interior carpets and mats that look significantly different and hopefully as close to new as possible. Even if they don’t and they’re a bit discoloured you can be satisfied knowing that you’ve had a go at deep cleaning them and your car is clean.

That was hard work, is there any protection I can put on car carpet/mats?

Glad you asked. Detailing a cars interior carpets and mats can take you a while so it’s only obvious that you’d think this. I use GTechniq Smart Fabric. It gives you peace of mind that your hard work will be protected as much as possible. It works in a similar way a ‘wax’ coating for the exterior would work. It gives the fabric hydrophobic protection, meaning if anything is accidentally spilt it is less likely to absorb into the fabric like it would do without any protection at all. The Gtechniq Smart Fabric application is incredibly straight forward – a few mists over the areas you wish to cover, let it dry and you’re done. All protected.