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How To Clean Car Carpet: The Complete Guide

Make Your Car Carpet Look Brand New With These 8 Easy Steps!

how to clean car carpet

A well-loved car tends to be a (sometimes) messy car. Knowing how to clean a car carpet is essential if you want to keep your beloved vehicle in the best shape possible. Whether it’s the expected wear and tear that comes from foot traffic coming in and out of your car, or there was an unexpected spill that caused a stain, we’ve got you covered.

Professional car washes typically do interior car detailing, but with these steps, you can do it yourself with minimal products and time. When you finish the task, you’ll be beyond happy with the result. And remember, when the carpet gets dirty again, you now know how to clean it in the most efficient way possible.

Clean A Car’s Carpet In 8 Easy Steps 

This article will teach you how to clean a car carpet. In it, you’ll learn about the best carpet cleaning products and the best cleaning methods. With these eight easy steps, you’ll have your car carpet back to how it was before in no time! Alongside this article, be sure to check out our guide reviewing the ten best car carpet cleaners.

Steps For How To Clean Car Carpet 

Step 1: Acquire Necessary Supplies 

Of course, before beginning the process, you need to gather all the supplies to have ready to start the carpet cleaning process. Luckily, you only need a few things to clean your car carpet. The products to gather include:

Step 2: Remove Trash, Debris, And Other Large Particles From Carpet 

Before you start cleaning, you need to do some pre-cleaning. Remove any trash, items stored in the car, and any other large particles that would perhaps clog up a vacuum. If you have some things that will go right back in your vehicle after you clean the carpet, put them in your glove compartment or console. And, if the stuff doesn’t fit there, just put it right outside of your car.

Step 3: Remove Floor Mats 

This step is pretty self-explanatory. To vacuum the entirety of the carpet, remove the floor mats. When you remove them, you can shake them out outside of the car. Be sure to place them in a dry area, so they don’t get mildewy. And, you can even vacuum them before putting them back once you finish cleaning your car carpet.

Step 4: Vacuum Entire Vehicle

Now that you’ve removed everything from the vehicle, you can now vacuum your car thoroughly. If you have a four-legged friend that often travels alongside you, this step is especially important. It’s safe to assume that you don’t want sudsy dog hair when cleaning the carp carpet! Car carpets typically get ignored until they are filthy because there are so many nooks and crannies to get to — which is why it’s great to have a car vacuum with numerous extensions.

Vacuum the main exposed area of the car carpet. Then, vacuum under the seats and around any other crevices of the vehicle. If you’re looking to buy a car vacuum, we’ve got you covered.

Step 5: Apply Carpet Cleaner 

Spray or apply the carpet cleaner of your choosing all over the surface of the car’s carpet. Once you’ve sprayed the carpet, let it sit for about 10 minutes. Letting it sit before scrubbing allows the soap to properly absorb. Check the directions on the bottle of your cleaner to ensure the correct amount of time to let the soap soak. 

Step 6: Scrub The Carpet 

Now that the carpet cleaner has had the chance to absorb any bad smells, slowly scrub the cleaner using a brush. When purchasing a brush, get one with soft bristles. To scrub with the brush, use a slow and gentle circular motion. Using a circular motion is the best way to get all the dirt, dust, and grime out of your carpet.

It is not uncommon to have numerous stains on your car carpet, especially if you have kids! For the areas with stains, you can repeat this process a few times until the stains come out. If you want to go the extra mile, you can get a car carpet brush that can be attached to a drill. These carpet brushes will make the process even faster.

For this step, you can alternatively use a car steam cleaner. While they can be useful if used sparingly and adequately, misusing it could lead to damage to your car. If you use a car steamer, be sure to use it as directed.

Step 7: Rinse The Carpet 

Using a damp microfiber towel, begin dabbing the carpet to remove the soap. To remove as much soap as you can, consider using around 2-3 microfiber towels. For this step, you don’t want to get your carpet soaking wet. While it may seem like that would remove the most soap possible, getting the carpet wet can cause mildew. As long as you get up most of the soap with a damp cloth, you should be good to go! If a little soap is left behind, that’ll just contribute to a good smell in your car.

Step 8: Finally, Let Your Car Dry Out 

Since this is the last step, you may feel tempted to skip it — don’t do that! Leave your car doors open and let it fully air out and dry. If there’s a spot in the sun to park your car, let it air out there. The last thing you want is mildew in your newly clean car. Drying your car out will generally take 1 to 3 hours.

Once the carpet is thoroughly dried out, put the floor mats back in the car. Before placing the floor mats back, consider following the above steps to clean them as well. Vacuum first, and then scrub using the soap and scrub brush. If your floor mats are entirely plastic, you can spray them with a hose. Then, after spraying them, dry with a microfiber towel. The floor mats should be completely dry before putting them back in the car.

Now You Know How To Clean A Car’s Carpet! 

Now that you have a spotless car carpet, you may cringe at the sight of a crumb falling onto your newly clean interior. But, you can rest easy knowing you’ve mastered the steps to efficiently and effectively clean your car carpet whenever it is needed. After all, a well-loved car means collecting some dirt and muck along the way!

If this article left you inspired to clean every nook and cranny of your car, start by washing the exterior and touching up any scratches on your car’s paint job. To further clean the interior of your ride, disinfect your car. Or, if needed, get that cigarette smell out of your car in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I clean my car carpet without a machine? 

Yes, absolutely. We recommend the old school carpet scrub brush and cleaner method. While you can use a steam cleaner, with the right car carpet soap and scrub brush, you can get the job done just as well — if not better. Many automotive professionals don’t even steam cleaners because when a car steam cleaner is misused, you run the risk of potential damage to your vehicle. Along with this, they are costly. If you do own a car carpet steam cleaner, we recommend not using it every single time you clean your car carpet, as overuse can lead to damage.

How do I get stains out of my car carpet? 

To get stains out, you can follow the same steps that we have outlined. If you have numerous tough stains, consider getting a carpet cleaner specifically meant for stain removal, such as the Chemical Guys Stain Extractor. When scrubbing, focus primarily on the stains. A good stain remover or carpet cleaner will thoroughly clean and remove the stain without causing discoloration or damage to the surface.

Can you make a homemade car carpet cleaner? 

You can, but we don’t recommend it to get a full deep clean. Since professionals don’t test most homemade carpet cleaners, you run the risk of damaging the interior of your car. With that, it’s just not worth it. Along with that, the DIY carpet cleaners just don’t remove stains and odors to the same degree of cleaner specifically formulated to do so. Using something like baking soda or vinegar just won’t cut it when it comes to a car carpet deep clean.

What is the best car carpet cleaner?

We recommend the CarGuys Super Cleaner, the Armor All Car Carpet Cleaner, or the Meguiar’s Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner. All of these cleaners are top-rated and will surely make your carpet look (and smell) brand new. When purchasing a car carpet cleaner, some things to look for are effectiveness, stain cleaning ability, quick-drying formula, multi-purpose application, and price.

About Joybeth Sullivan

Joybeth Sullivan is an accomplished content creator. She does it all as a writer, photographer, and videographer. Her work has been published in local and international outlets. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a dual-degree in English & Film. Today, she is based out of Denver, CO. When she isn't writing, you can find her on long drives in the mountains with her husky, Newman, riding shotgun.