How To Clean Car Carpet | Essential Tips and Techniques

If there’s something inside your car that takes in a lot of dirt and dust from all corners, it has to be your car’s carpets. All the dirt that gets stuck under the occupant’s footwear finds its way onto your car’s carpets. So, they must be cleaned properly on a regular basis.

A lot of you may take it lightly, thinking that soap water should make them as good as new. But, it isn’t so easy. The amount of abuse and dirt these car carpets face is a lot! A shampoo wash won’t be enough all the time.

In addition, dirty carpets not only compromise the interior’s appeal but, also put at risk the health of all occupants inside the car. Just like how you like to keep the car clean and shiny on the exterior, it is also important to keep the interior fresh and tidy.

So the question is, How to clean car carpet the right way? To begin, you need to follow an effective process with the help of the right tools to make them brand new again!

And to know what would work best for your car’s carpets, you need to identify the nature of dirt and stains in order to eradicate them properly.

Worry not, because we’re here to help you clean your car’s carpets with utmost precision. We’ll help you follow the correct method and also guide you to use the right products that would not only clean your car’s carpets but, also improve their life in the long run.

How To Clean Car Carpet

Why Carpet Cleaning Is Essential?

As much as we want to keep the exterior of the car clean, the interior and car carpets must also be kept clean the same way for primarily two reasons.

The first reason is aesthetics. When you sit inside a clean, tidy, and odor-free car, you get a good feeling. It is somehow appealing to the eyes. This helps you relax even more and you enjoy the drive.

Your friends and family would like it too! Not many people want to rest their clean and shiny shoes over muddy or stained carpets.

The second reason however has nothing to do with visual appeal but is related to your health.

Your car carpets emit dust every time you stamp on them. This happens often, even without your notice. For example, every time you engage and disengage the brakes, your legs lift off the car’s carpet and then rest on it again.

Every time this happens, a fine layer of dust is emitted from the carpets that make its way upon the car upholstery, AC vents, dashboard, and other areas of the car’s interior. This dust is so fine that we’re unable to see it unless lots of it settles inside the interior.

As a result, we also tend to inhale some of this dust, which could affect our health. Dirty carpets in your car can cause dust allergies and even respiratory problems if not dealt with early on.

What You Will Need for The Process

Before we move on to the process of how to clean your car’s carpet, we’re listing a few products that are a must-have when you’re cleaning the car’s carpets.

1. Car Interior Fabric Cleaner

A car interior fabric cleaner is tailor-made to remove dust, dirt, odor, hard stains, and almost any kind of impurity from the car carpets. This one from Chemical Guys has an intense foam cleaning power that helps lift deep stains.

2. Nylon Carpet Brush

A Nylon carpet brush is the best tool to scrub all kinds of stains that are found on a car’s carpet. The long bristles manage to reach depths in between the fibers. A job that would be impossible to achieve with bare hands or a cloth.

3. Vacuum Cleaner

Get your hands on a good vacuum cleaner that comes with multiple attachments, especially the ones with the brush at the other end as they are super useful in extracting tiny particles from small crevices on the car carpets.

4. Steam Cleaner

If you’re looking for a shortcut method to effectively clean car carpets in a short period of time, and completely dry them in no time in a way that also kills the bacteria on the carpets, look no further than using a steam cleaner or a hot water extractor.

They use a mixture of high temperature and water to ingest steam into the fabric of the carpets. The high temperature helps to loosen the dirt, which is then extracted with the help of a brush attachment.

All this happens simultaneously! As a result of the heat, the carpets dry almost immediately. While this product seems like an ideal tool to use, it does come at a significant cost that you’ll have to be willing to pay.

Apart from the above paraphernalia, do keep aside a few cotton rags. If you’re planning on doing some carpet cleaning home remedies, do remember to have with you some baking soda, dish soap, paper towels, white vinegar, and a glass cleaner. But more on that later.

Preparation for Cleaning Car Carpet

Preparation for Cleaning Car Carpet

To know how to clean car carpet, you must first prepare the car in a way that would make carpet cleaning a lot easier, faster, and simpler. If you have car mats made of rubber, you would still be required to follow the same procedure.

Firstly, you must begin by keeping all car doors open. Find and throw away all tangible trash that you can find inside the car into a dustbin. This can be a paper towel, candy wrappers empty bottles, and other disposable items we often use.

The next step is to remove the floor mats from the car. Extract them by folding them but in a way that you don’t spill dirt over the carpet or upholstery. Unless you do this, you can’t have proper access to the car carpet underneath. Also, the car mats need a wash too!

Speaking of access, you can make the job a whole lot easier if you can remove the seats from the car. This would give you the liberty to work on the car carpet from multiple directions. Else you might have a clean car carpet but a few spots would continue to remain exceptions.

Now that your car looks a lot more spacious and roomy, we would now address the answer to the question ‘how to clean car carpet’.

Methods for Cleaning Car Carpet

There are several ways you can follow to clean the car carpet. While a few remain common, you may choose the most ideal method based on the toughness of the stains.

Method 1: Vacuuming

Vacuuming Car Carpet

Vacuuming helps get rid of all the debris- tiny or small. This is the first step of ‘how to clean car carpet’ because only after you’ve taken off floating debris is when you’ll be able to effectively eradicate the stains. You may also vacuum the floor mats you had taken off earlier.

Use the brush attachment to scrub as you go about vacuuming thoroughly to loosen dried mud particles. It is okay to spend more time on this but it must be done properly. With the seats off, one can gain great access to all the corners.

If your car’s carpet is devoid of stains as a result of periodic cleaning and maintenance, then in most cases it is only loose dirt that you have to worry about. Vacuuming solves this problem.

Method 2: Steam Cleaning

Steam Cleaning Car Carpet

If you’re looking to clean car carpets in an easy and short manner, then you must use a Steam cleaner or a hot water extractor. For the same benefits that come with them, vehicle body shops and vehicle detailing professionals use steam cleaners.

The hot water extractor sprays the carpet cleaner onto the carpet of your vehicle. Use its brush to scrub on the carpet while the extractor vacuums out all the dirt. And it does all this at once, simultaneously. Now you know why this is a shortcut solution.

A steam cleaner on the other hand uses hot pressurised steam to get into the fabric of the carpet. Then it loosens and shoots out all the trapped particles. Due to its high temperature, it is able to kill bacteria, germs and also prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

Another advantage of steam cleaning is that the use of a carpet cleaner or carpet shampoo is not necessary so you can say goodbye to the spray bottle. Oh yes, the use of steam cleaners almost dries up any fabric or carpet instantly.

This method can be opted for if you’re confident that no further cleaning would be required. Usually, this takes care of most stains and dirt but if things are too bad, we might have to explore more methods.

Method 3: Foam Cleaning and Shampooing

Foam Cleaning and Shampooing Car Carpet

To clean car carpets entirely, you must focus on stains that are tough to eradicate. Locate individual stains and spray the carpet cleaner directly onto them in the quantity specified on the spray’s label.

Allow the carpet cleaner to settle into the fabric for a few minutes. Then use the carpet cleaning brush in circular motions on the spot. You’ll notice foam being formed but that is okay because the cleaner loosens all the dirt in the stain.

After the stain has been eradicated, use a few pieces of damp cloth to extract the cleaner from the carpet by dragging it on the spot. Do it multiple times if required but do not leave moisture behind.

After you’ve dealt with each individual stain, it is now time to entirely clean the carpet. This is the main part of ‘how to clean car carpet’. Spray the carpet cleaner or carpet shampoo over the carpet in a specific amount and scrub in an even manner.

Ensure to cover all areas of the carpet and apply the same pressure throughout when scrubbing. Then, use the damp cloths to extract foam or carpet cleaner from the carpets by wiping the cloth over it.

Method 4: Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning Car Carpet

If you’re concerned about the fabric of your car’s carpet and want to opt for a safer technique, do consider dry cleaning the carpet since it is safe to do so. Before you apply the dry clean powder, spray the stained area with a pre-treatment product to break down the dirt.

Then, all you need to do is get your hands on a dry cleaning compound powder and spread a healthy amount evenly on the entire area of the carpet.

Apply a little more over hard stains like grease stains. Then brush the carpets properly to remove oil and dirt in the deeper sections of the fabric. Allow the powder to sit on the carpet for half an hour.

Once the carpet is completely dry, use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly suck out all the powder and dirt that has become loose. This should help you get rid of all the stains.

Method 5: DIY Carpet Cleaning using Homemade Cleaners

DIY Carpet Cleaning using Homemade Cleaners

If you’re someone who likes to experiment with homemade solutions instead of buying specialized cleaners then we’ve got the right mixture for you.

Use a spray bottle to mix hot water, a few drops of dish soap, and a cup of white vinegar. Mix them well by shaking the bottle and then spray the solution on the affected areas of your vehicle’s carpet. You may even use laundry detergent instead of dish soap.

Allow it to soak on the stain and then use any brush to scrub over it. You may re-spray over the stain at your convenience in case the stain is challenging to remove. Then, use a piece of cloth to wipe against the area, thereby extracting as much moisture as possible.

This is one of the best techniques to deal with mud stains, oil stains, and coffee stains as laundry detergents help break down organic matter and fats. The acetic acid in White Vinegar helps kill germs, and bacteria as well as dissolve organic minerals.

Not only that, but this is also the cheapest answer to the question ‘How to clean car carpet’. Once done, we’d suggest you use a vacuum cleaner to remove excess moisture.

Method 6: Degrease Grease Stains

Degrease Grease Stains

If you like working on your vehicle, chances are that you’ve got grease and grime over the carpets and upholstery. It may appear tricky to deal with the stain but we’ve got a cheap and simple fix to this problem.

Dish soaps are loaded with degreasers that actually help break through oil and grease on kitchen utensils. Why not use the same product to get rid of the stain on your car carpet? Mix a little dish soap with hot water and apply it over the stain.

Spot-clean the area using a microfiber cloth would help to a great extent. you may dab and then rub the cloth over the spot until the stain is gone completely. You may choose to air dry the carpet if there is a healthy amount of air circulation.

Method 7: The Last Resort- Hydrogen Peroxide

The last answer to ‘how to clean car carpet’ is Hydrogen peroxide, which is easily available at any pharmacy store. But before you proceed, we’d like to express caution since this is a strong solution, best suited to remove tough and colored stains like blood stains, juice stains, etc.

Resort to this method only if you’ve tried other methods like carpet cleaner, baking soda, soap water, white vinegar, and other methods mentioned above. If none of those work, read on to know more.

The reason for our concern is that Hydrogen peroxide is capable of bleaching the colors of your carpet. It could get worse if the carpet is of a dark color, it could leave behind a dull bleach stain.

So, first experiment with the solution over a spot on the upholstery that is well concealed, like the underside of your car’s seat.

Speaking of the solution, use the Hydrogen Peroxide 3% bottle and mix it with water in a 1:2 ratio. Apply a very small amount of the solution on the stain and allow it to settle there for about thirty seconds.

Blot the area with a cloth and you should notice the stain coming off with ease. Then, use a microfiber towel to scrub the area dry. If you notice even the slightest amount of discoloration, dilute the solution even more by adding more water to it.


Does baking soda clean car carpet?

Absolutely! You may use baking soda mixed with water. This helps with stains that are not too tough to remove.

How can I clean my car carpet without shampoo?

You may use Method 5 from the above list to clean car carpets without shampoo.

What is the best way to clean car carpet stains?

All methods mentioned above are the best ways to clean car carpet stains. It all boils down to what the stain is all about and how tough it would be to remove it. Based on that, you may choose the best method to execute the task.

How often should I clean my car carpet?

To be honest, we’d suggest you clean them at least once a month. Frequent cleaning would prevent dirt, grease, and other stains from settling on the spot for a long time.

Is it safe to use a steam cleaner on my car carpet?

Yes, it is safe to use a steam cleaner on your car carpet. However, do refer to the car owner’s manual for any special wash and care instructions about the carpet, just to be on the safe side.

Can I use a pressure washer to clean my car carpet?

This can be done only if you have fabric car mats that can be extracted from the car. A fixed carpet should never be cleaned using a pressure washer. However, floor mats made of rubber can be pressure washed.


While we’ve mentioned many methods to address the problem of ‘how to clean car carpet’, we’d highly recommend you first assess the kind of dirt and stains present on the carpet before choosing any of the methods.

Most general stains can be dealt with by basic carpet cleaners and homemade cleaners. For the complicated stains, we’d suggest going for the more rigorous methods. Before we part ways, we’d like to offer one last important advice that could save you time and in many cases, even money!

The sooner you clean your carpet stains from the time they appear, the easier and cheaper it would be to take them off. The key is to not allow them to sit for a long time.

Read More

Share On