15 Tips for Cleaning
Carpeting & Upholstery in your Car
by Sandy Lindsey
nothing worse than buying a new car, and weeks later, it looks more lived-in than
a 100-year-old house. Drive-thru food and drinks, kids with sticky candy, and
drooling Fido also do their fair share toward making your car's interior — be it
leather, cloth, or carpet — look beaten and worn. By maintaining the appearance
of the vehicle inside as well as out, you retain the value of the car, which will
help you when it's time to trade it in or sell it. Here are a few helpful hints
to help you tackle the spills and spots:
1. Dilute coffee spills immediately with cool water and blot with
paper towels or clean rags. If a stain remains after the spot
dries, spray on a glass cleaner (yes, a glass cleaner!). Soak
the area, allow to sit for five minutes, and blot. Glass cleaner
cleans all types of carpeting and upholstery without leaving
the soapy residue of most traditional carpet cleaners, which
only attract more dirt afterward. Glass cleaner isnormally
effective on even the most difficult stains. Once your carpet
is cleaned it's time to Scotchgard the surface to limit further staining.
greasy carpeting and upholstery stains can be removed by rubbing
on paint thinner with a clean, 100-percent cotton cloth. Then
cover the stain with salt until the remaining grease is absorbed,
and vacuum. Or cover the spot with cornmeal and let it sit overnight
and vacuum in the morning. Note: Test the effect
of the paint thinner on the colorfastness of the carpeting and/or
upholstery in a discrete area first.
will lift out pen ink stains on carpeting or upholstery. Salt will also lift the stain out of the carpet. Allow to sit until the stain
is absorbed and brush off. Repeat if necessary.
stains, from children, pets or adults, should be diluted and
neutralized (vomit is acidic) with club soda or a mixture of
baking soda and water.
stains on carpeting or upholstery, whether animal or human,
should be immediately covered with a paste made up of dry laundry
starch and cold water. (Do not use hot water, as it will
set the stain.) Allow to dry, then brush or vacuum the residue
you should never drink and drive, if alcohol spills while on
your way home from the grocery store, beer and alcohol
spills on your carpeting should be immediately diluted with
cold water so they don't permanently change the color.
clean vinyl seats quickly, wipe them with
baking soda on a damp rag. Rinse with dishwashing
detergent and water. Baking soda is gentler
on vinyl than oil-based cleaners, which will cause
the vinyl to harden.
general carpet or upholstery stains, take a gallon of hot water,
a generous amount of dish detergent, and add a cup of
white vinegar. You'll need a hard bristle brush to work the
mixture thoroughly into the carpet fibers. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Blot until dry with towels or thick absorbent rags. (This
also works well for pet stains).
brighten a fading carpet, first vacuum, then use a sponge mop
to lightly apply a mixture of a half cup clear ammonia to one
pint of water. Test this mixture on a discrete area of carpeting
of first. Note:
Do not use ammonia on wool
carpeting begins to smell, sprinkle on 20-Mule Team Borax generously,
then let it sit undisturbed for an hour before vacuuming up
both dirt and unpleasant smells. If your dog goes off-road with
you, you might be interested to learn that a second application
of Borax will kill fleas and their eggs.
edges starting to fray? Paint carpet seams and edges with a
liquid resin, found in craft and fabric stores, to hold the
fibers in place.
12. Before your vehicle carpets begin to show excessive wear and
tear, vacuum them just as you would at home. This will lift
the fibers back upright and counteract the long-term ill effects
of the dirt that's been pounded into it. If the situation is
really bad, you might consider renting a steam cleaning-machine
available at most supermarkets. If you do, be sure to bring
up all the water when you're done, as stepping on a wet carpet
only will damage the fibers further.
13. Spraying a mixture of five parts water and one part liquid fabric
softener onto your carpets will lessen carpet static and remove
the light shock that occurs when you touch metal objects.
objects stored in the back of your sport/utility vehicle have
left indentations in the carpeting, place a damp towel over
the spot and press lightly with an iron on a low setting. The
indentation will rise as the towel dries. Be careful not to
leave the iron on the spot for too long as synthetic fibers
keep car mats looking brand new, wax them with a liquid
shoe wax polish. This will also make them much easier
to rinse clean.