United States is a fast-food culture. Even those of us who swear
we'll never eat in our cars eventually yield to the
modern realities of our fast-paced lifestyle. Food and drink spills on automotive carpet are a reality
when we eat and drink on the go.
detailers tend to agree that household carpet-cleaning
products work equally well on automotive carpet. Keep
in mind, however, that auto carpet is usually backed
by sheetmetal. In other words, rental-type shampooers
can leave the carpet wet for a few days, which can lead
to floorboard rust. "Wet" cleaning could be
an option if you're willing to remove the seats and
carpet from the car and wait for the fibers to completely
dry, or cleaning totally grubby floormats after doing
your living room.
small stains and spills, though, spray-on products usually
do a decent job of cleaning without having to soak the
carpet. A few of the boo-boos that these products are
formulated to remove include grease, pet stains, ketchup,
motor oil, soft drinks, coffee, lipstick, mustard and
milk. Some stain-removers even include deodorizers,
and many spray-on auto-carpet spotters will also work
on upholstery, seat belt webbing, vinyl and even household
the instructions on the product to successfully blot
out stains and spills. Regardless of whether you choose
to go the wet or less-wet route, test the product for
color-fastness on an unnoticeable part of the carpet.
Next, the carpet will need to be vacuumed. Some spray-on
products' directions recommend pre-treating and blotting
nasty spots before vacuuming while others may specify
vacuuming first. Always use the most powerful wet/dry
shop vac you can find (at the coin-op car wash if necessary)
to suck up as much deeply embedded dirt as possible.
actual spray-on spotting technique involves applying
the product to the afflicted area, then spreading and
blotting the wetness with soft terry-cloth towels to
remove as much of the moisture as possible. Some car-care
companies recommend applying/spreading their cleaner
with a clean, white, bath-sized towel that's been moistened
with cold water and wrung out as thoroughly as possible.
Draw the towel across the stain, turning it frequently
as the stain lifts from the carpet. If the towel becomes
soiled, continue to use clean ones until the stain no
longer transfers from the carpet.
stubborn stains, use a soft-bristled brush to agitate
deep down into the carpet's fibers, using circular,
overlapping motions. Finally, blot/buff the moist area
with another clean terry cloth towel.
most spray-on cleaners leave no residue, vacuum again
once the carpet is dry for best results.
Finally, some spotters also contain a protector, but
applying a stand-alone protector to the newly cleaned
carpet will help future stains come out even easier.