Cleaning Car Stains
By Steve Gillman
Cleaning stains in your car, whether on carpets or upholstery,
is done using many of the same procedures that are used to clean
carpet stains in the house. To begin with, if a spill just occurred,
soak up the excess with a napkin or cloth as quickly as possible.
Coffee spills that are immediately blotted up and then repeatedly
flushed with water may not leave a stain. Use cool water. If
there still is a stain, start with the next step.
Generally you should try water first,but there is an exception
to that rule. If it's a glue spill, see the following page: Get Glue Out of Carpet.
Some people have had luck using glass cleaner to lift stains
of all sorts from car carpet and upholstery. Spray the stain,
let it sit for six or seven minutes, and blot it up. Glass cleaner
doesn't leave a soapy residue to attract more dirt, as some cleaners
do. But it is a good idea to do a final rinse with water. Be
careful though; because of the variety of upholstery fabrics
used in automobiles, you might risk damage to some with glass
cleaner, so test it first in a hidden area (some corner of a
back seat) to see if it alters the color at all.
Grease and tar stains on car carpeting can sometimes be removed
with paint thinner. Test it first on an inconspicuous are to
see if it is going to remove the color from the carpet. Then
rub on the thinner with a clean cotton cloth, cover the stain
with salt until it soaks up the grease, and then vacuum.
Most stains on vinyl seats can be cleaned with dish washing
detergent and water. Try not to use oil-based cleaners as they
can cause vinyl to harden.
Blood stains should be quickly cleaned with cold water (never
hot), but carefully, so as not to spread the stain. If this isn't
sufficient, try a solution of a few drops of Dawn dish detergent
in a cup of cold water. Work it into the blood, but be careful
not to spread the stain or rub too hard, because damaged fibers
hold stains. Repeat this as many times as necessary until there's
no more transfer of the stain from the carpet to the cloth or
paper towels. Blot up excess water when you are done.
Vomit is very acidic, and should be quickly diluted with club
soda or a mixture of baking soda and water. If nothing else is
available, water alone can be repeatedly applied and blotted
Ink stains often come out with rubbing alcohol (90% isopropyl
alcohol, or 70% if that's what's available). But don't pour rubbing
alcohol on your carpet or upholstery. Put it on a clean white
cotton cloth and dab the stain carefully, so you don't spread
the stain. After a few minutes blot carefully (don't rub!), or
suck it out using a shop-vac. Repeat the process until you see
no more transfer to a cloth. It may not be possible to remove
the stain completely.
In addition to using the tips here to remove any car spills
and stains, you can make your seats and carpets last longer and
look better. How? Just keep them vacuumed regularly. Dirt on
the car floor gets ground into the carpet fibers every time you
get into the car, wearing it out. The same is true of upholstery,
so use mats and keep the car clean.