Car Care - Carpet and Upholstery


It's a great feeling to get into your car, truck, SUV or van and see that everything - seats, dashboard, carpet, floor - is clean and free of dust, dirt and grime. Everyone especially likes to have a clean, spotless carpet and upholstery.

Below are a few helpful hints for keeping your vehicle's carpets, mats, and upholstery in great shape. Remember that these are only general guidelines. See your owner's manual or repair manual for specific instructions for your vehicle.

Once every three months, take the floor mats out of your vehicle.

Brush the carpet with a stiff whisk broom to loosen dust and dirt. Vacuum the carpet. Vacuum the upholstery, especially along seams. Also vacuum the mats.

Following the directions on the container, use a basic household cleaner or an automotive carpet shampoo to remove heavy dirt and stains from the carpeting. After allowing the carpet to dry, vacuum it again, then use a stiff brush to bring back the nap. Reinstall the mats.

Most vehicle interiors have vinyl or cloth upholstery. To clean these materials, use any of the many fine products available in auto supply stores. Use a product that has been developed specifically for these materials and follow the instructions on the packaging. Always spot-test the product to make sure it does not cause a shift in the color of the cloth or vinyl. Test in an inconspicuous area, like the bottom edge of a backseat cushion.

After cleaning, treat vinyl with a protectant. Note: make sure the instructions indicate you can use it on seats; some products make the seat too slippery. Do not use protectant on the steering wheel.

Leather upholstery requires special care. Clean it regularly with a leather cleaner or saddle soap. Following the instructions on the packaging of any one of a variety of fine products available at parts stores or department stores. Do not use gasoline, alcohol, nail polish remover, or paint thinner to clean leather.

After cleaning your leather upholstery, treat it with a leather conditioner. Use a soft cloth to rub it on and in. Never use car wax on leather upholstery.

Tip: Here's a good way to protect your leather seats from drying out and fading. If you need to leave your vehicle out in bright sunlight for an extended period of time, cover the seats with a sheet.

Use all of these upholstery and carpet cleaning tips to make your car, truck, van or SUV look and feel like new, every time you get inside.