How To Clean Car Carpet

How to Deep Clean Car Carpet & Vehicle Floor Mats


Do you know how much time the average American spends driving a vehicle? We spend a lot of time driving…

A study done by the Harvard Health Watch found an average American spends over an hour and a half per day driving, and the American Driving Survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found the average American driver will spend the equivalent of seven 40-hour work weeks behind the wheel of a vehicle. For more interesting info, view this neat Infographic outlining American driving habits and read below.

We also spend a lot of time eating and drinking while driving.

A study of 1,000 drivers by Exxon Mobil discovered that 70 percent of drivers eat while driving and 83 percent drink beverages when they are on the road!

Pet lovers also tend to drive with their furry friends.

78 million dogs reside in more than 46 million U.S. households, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). And nearly six in 10 (56%) respondents have driven with their dog in a vehicle at least once a month over the past year, according to the AAA/Kurgo survey.

Download this Doggie Distractions Fact Sheet for more fun facts.

That’s a lot of stains, crumbs, ground-in food fragments, pet hair, and slobber. Who wants to drive around sitting in and smelling all that mess? YUCK!

Regular car cleaning maintenance is good but not enough.

You should maintain the interior by removing trash, shaking out mats, vacuuming seats, and wiping down or dusting the dashboard, center console, and doors on a regular basis or every time you wash your car. But surface cleaning won’t wash and scrub out stains and odors. What happens in your car carpet and upholstery stays in your car – until you Rug Doctor it out! Make sure to detail your upholstery with a Portable Spot Cleaner two to three times a year to keep it looking and smelling fresh.

Keep reading to find out how to deep clean your vehicle carpet and floor mats.

Auto carpeting and floor mats are designed for wear and tear. They’re durable and look good even after numerous rounds of shampooing. Follow these directions to keep your car interior clean and odor-free.

  1. Vacuum first

Pull out the floor mats, shake them out, and vacuum mats and carpeting thoroughly to remove debris, soil, sand, and surface dirt. Use your vacuum’s crevice tool to reach between and under seats, and into tight seams, nooks, and crannies.

  1. Pre-treat tough stains

It’s easy to track in greasy residue on your shoes, so we recommend spraying heavily soiled areas with a pre-treat spot remover like Rug Doctor Pre-Treat to break down oils and ground-in grime. Pre-treat spot remover works like a degreaser, removing residue to make the carpet fiber easier to clean.

Spray the pre-treat carpet cleaner on the stained or soiled area. Wait 3-5 minutes, and then deep clean your vehicle’s carpets following the instructions on the machine.

NOTE: Before using a cleaning solution on carpet and fabric seats, test for colorfastness. Spray a small amount of solution in a hidden area. Blot with a white paper towel to see if any color transfers from the fiber to the towel. Allow to dry – and if color is affected, do not use. Most carpets are colorfast, but it’s always wise to test.

  1. Have the right machine to detail your car interior

To deep clean your car interior, either rent or buy a machine designed to spray, scrub, and extract even the toughest grime from carpet and upholstery.

  • Rent a professional-grade carpet cleaning machine with an upholstery attachment from Rug Doctor. You can rent Rug Doctor at most grocery stores, Walmart, and Home Depot for about $35-45 for 24 hours.
  • Buy a spot cleaning machine, like Rug Doctor’s Portable Spot Cleaner. This is a great machine to have on hand in your home, as well as in the garage. When accidents happen, it’s always best to treat the stain immediately. Owning a quick and easy-to-use spot cleaner that goes anywhere eliminates the drama around spills, pet accidents, and tracked-in messes.

But don’t take our word for it. See the Rug Doctor rental carpet cleaning machine and Portable Spot Cleaner detailing in action featured in this local news segment!

  1. Use the right cleaning solution formulated for upholstery and carpet

Machines that shampoo vehicle carpets and upholstery perform best with a cleaning solution concentrate designed for spot and upholstery cleaning. Rug Doctor’s Detailing, Spot and Upholstery Cleaner is oxy-based and formulated with odor neutralizing technology that eliminates stains and lingering smells without leaving any residue behind. A common misperception is that using dish soap or laundry detergent will be equally effective. But the fact is, they’re designed to be fully rinsed out. These soaps dry and leave behind sticky residue that actually attracts dirt more quickly – and no one wants that!

  1. Follow machine instructions for use

Rug Doctor deep cleaning machines are easy to use. Just fill the clean water tank with hot tap water and a measured amount of cleaning solution per package directions. Press the trigger, spraying clean soapy water onto the vehicle surface, and then scrub the surface forward and back to loosen the dirt or stain. Use a spot cleaning tool with a motorized brush roll – like our Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner – to make the job faster and easier. After scrubbing, release the trigger spray button and press the suction nozzle (the front of the tool) firmly into the carpet or upholstery to extract the dirty water into a removable tank for disposal. To speed up drying time, go back over the area multiple times to suck up as much moisture as possible. Wait ‘til you see the color of all the dirty water that comes out. And to think you have been sitting in that for hours each day!

  1. Allow carpet and upholstery to dry overnight

Ideally, you can detail your vehicle on a warm, sunny day and keep the doors and/or windows open to help the fresh air dry your vehicle interior. But if you need your upholstery and mats to dry more quickly, use a hair dryer. Just be careful not to hold the hair dryer too close to the surface, as you might scorch the carpet.

  1. Apply a fabric protectant to help minimize impact of future spills and stains on floor mats or carpet

After you’re done detailing your car, you’ll want your hard work to last as long as possible. For best results, spray a fabric protectant that creates a barrier on the carpet fiber to allow spills to be more quickly blotted up.

Now you’re ready for that road trip!