When you look at your older car’s interior, it more than likely does not look as good as it did the day you bought it. It is not at all uncommon for the interior to get soiled over the years with normal use. Learning how to clean upholstery yourself is not all that difficult and can save you some money.
These upholstery cleaning tips are for cloth interiors only and not leather. We use shampoo to clean cloth interior. We have options when it comes to the cleaning solution we use. You can buy super clean or purple power degreaser at any local auto parts house. This works really well on carpet and cloth seats for removing stains. You can also use dawn dish washing liquid which we all know is great at fighting grease. Find a five gallon bucket or anything that will hold two or three gallons of water. Fill the bucket with water and add just a little of the cleaner, if using purple cleaner just add a few capfuls until the water slightly changes color. With dish soap maybe a tablespoon or so. We do not want a lot of foam and soap we have to get out of the cloth. It is always a good idea to test a little spot in an inconspicuous area before we start. Just use a white cloth and wet with cleaner and rub a little in to see if the color is rubbing off on your towel. If so stop now and call a professional for advice on cleaning this type of material.
Items needed to shampoo your cars interior yourself are a wet/dry vac, a scrub brush, and a few towels. Just do small areas at a time to get the best results, except for the seats, wet the entire seat to ensure there is no streaking. Then you can work smaller areas of the seat after it is all wet with shampoo. Use a hand towel to wet it down with shampoo, then scrub gently with a brush and vacuum it really well to remove as much water as possible. You can repeat wetting bad areas and vacuuming it out until you see no more dirt coming up. When you have it vacuumed as good as possible use a dry towel to rub the entire seat down which removes more dirt and more water to help dry times. We do the same process with each seat and the carpet.
Drying the interior as quickly as possible is essential when you are all done shampooing. If not dried in a reasonable time it will get musty, similar to leaving wet clothes in the washer too long. If it is sunny out leave the windows down and make sure the car is in the sun. Place a fan blowing in a window of the car to keep the air moving and speed dry time. If it isn’t sunny out, you can roll the windows up to about 2 inches down and turn the heater on high. If you have a small fan that oscillates, put it in the car wherever you can get it to stay safely and turn it on high. Do not leave it unattended for very long and keep checking the carpet and seats to see if their dry. If you have a garage where you can leave the windows down all night and a fan blowing, this would be the ideal thing to do.
During the drying stage, you may notice some dirt resurfacing. When being shown how to clean car upholstery that has had cola spills in it, you will see exactly what I am talking about. You can just take a dry towel and rub these areas as they dry and it will pick it up. There is no doubt this is a long tiring process when learning how to clean upholstery. There is a lot of bending and scrubbing involved. This is why a lot of people choose to take their cars to a local detail shop and have the interior steam cleaned. Although, if you want to save money and learn how to do it yourself, this is one way to do it and get great results.