Informational Guide

How To Clean Car Seats

Used this detailed guide to learn how to clean car seats properly, so you can keep them looking & smelling fresh.

Most of us use our cars every day to commute to and from school or work. It is hard to get around without one. During this daily use, life happens, and our car seats can get dirty very quickly. Check out our guide to cleaning every type of car seat, so you can keep them looking fresh.

As much as we might try to keep our car seats clean, spills occasionally happen. We live an on-the-go lifestyle that does not mix so well with our car seats. The most common stains we encounter are coffee, grease, pet hair, oil, ink, and food.

A great way to avoid these types of stains is to invest in car seat covers. In the meantime, these stains can be difficult to remove, especially grease, coffee, and food stains. It often happens when you are driving and trying to quickly finish your lunch.

How To Clean Car Seats

Household Products For Cleaning Badly Dirty Car Seats

  • Baking Soda Solution  
    Baking soda can help remove almost any stain. It works best on fabric and cloth seats. To make this solution, you only need some baking soda and water.
  • Vinegar Solution  
    This solution works well on coffee or other liquid stains. You can use some distilled white vinegar diluted with water to scrub away the stain.
  • Lemon Juice and Cream of Tartar Solution  
    You can use this solution to clean ink, marker, or crayon stains from seats. You should mix lemon juice, cream of tartar, and a little bit of water into a paste.
  • Nail Polish Remover or Rubbing Alcohol  
    This option is best for vinyl or leather car seats. You can use it to remove crayons, ink, or other spills.
  • Toothpaste 
    This solution is also great for vinyl or leather seats. You can squeeze a small amount onto the stain and use a toothbrush to scrub it away.
  • Laundry Detergent  
    You can use laundry detergent as an ingredient in most of the solutions on our list. It will help lift the stain from almost any type of car seat.

How to Clean Car Seats (Easy DIY Steps For All Materials)

No matter what type of car seat or stain you have, we’ve got you covered. You should always take care of stains immediately to avoid long-term damage to your car seats. We also recommend cleaning your seats regularly to avoid lasting dirt and grime build-up. Check out our guide below to learn how to get stains out of car seats.

How to Clean Leather Car Seats

Before cleaning your leather car seats, you should be familiar with the different types. The common ones are aniline, semi-aniline, faux, and pigmented.

  • Aniline Leather  
    This type used to be the most common leather seat, but it is rarely used now. It is the untreated animal hide, which still has blemishes and cracks.
  • Semi-Aniline Leather  
    This type is found in some luxury cars today. It is finished with a thin topcoat to protect it from damage and weathering.
  • Faux Leather  
    It is inexpensive and easier to maintain than other types of leather.
  • Corrected Leather  
    The leather undergoes a correction and pigmentation process to help seal it and make it last longer.
  • Step 1: Wipe the leather seat down and remove all contaminants.
  • Step 2: We recommend using a leather cleaner to avoid removing natural oils from the seat. Apply the leather cleaner using a dry microfiber towel. Scrub the stained area vigorously.
  • Step 3: Wipe the leather cleaner off the seat with a damp towel.
  • Step 4: Apply leather conditioner to keep the seats protected and looking brand new.

Pro Tip: To clean white leather car seats, you should use a leather cleaner, conditioner, and scrub brush. This will help remove stubborn stains.

How To Clean Leather Car Seats

How to Clean Cloth/Fabric Car Seats

  • Step 1: Thoroughly vacuum your fabric seats to remove large debris.
  • Step 2: Mix a solution of 1 cup of water with ¼ cup of baking soda. Apply this with a soft brush or toothbrush to any visible stains.
  • Step 3: After letting it sit for 30 minutes, gently remove the baking soda solution from the car seats.
  • Step 4: Prepare a solution of ¼ cup of vinegar with one squirt of dish soap. Use a spray bottle to spray the solution onto your fabric car seats.
  • Step 5: Use a soft bristle brush to scrub the car seats and any remaining stains.
  • Step 6: Dry the seats with a towel and let the car air out for as long as possible.

How to Clean Suede Car Seats

  1. 1
    Wipe down the seats using a special suede brush and eraser. You can target light stains using the suede eraser.
  2. 2
    You can use lemon juice to remove stains from the suede or use a dedicated suede cleaning product.
  3. 3
    If you want to use lemon juice, you should create a solution with a ¼ of lemon juice and 1 cup of warm water.
  4. 4
    Rub a small amount of the solution onto the stain.
  5. 5
    Make small gentle circles over the stain with your suede brush.
  6. 6
    Use a towel to dry the area completely.
  7. 7
    If you can still see the stain repeat this process.

How to Clean Vinyl Car Seats

  1. 1
    Vacuum your seats thoroughly to get rid of large dirt and debris.
  2. 2
    Vinyl seats are fairly easy to clean. You will need a soft bristle brush. We recommend using a vinyl seat cleaner or a mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and water.
  3. 3
    If you use a vinyl cleaner, simply scrub the area with a soft brush and the cleaner. To create a DIY vinyl cleaner, first, apply baking soda and water to the stain.
  4. 4
    Let it sit for 30 minutes, then wipe it off. Apply a vinegar and water mixture to the stain and scrub with a soft brush.
  5. 5
    Wipe down the area with a towel and let it dry.

How to Clean Car Seat Straps/Seatbelts

  1. 1
    Pull the seatbelt all the way out of its reel and place a clip to prevent it from moving.
  2. 2
    For general cleaning, mix a solution of warm water and dish soap.
  3. 3
    Use a scrub brush to clean the length of the seatbelt from top to bottom.
  4. 4
    For odors and tough stains, mix a solution of 1 cup of warm water, ¼ cup of vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap.
  5. 5
    Scrub the seatbelt with a brush from the top to the bottom.
  6. 6
    Dry the seatbelt with a towel.

How to Clean Baby Car Seats

  1. 1
    Remove the car seat for easier access.
  2. 2
    Thoroughly vacuum the car seat to remove all the crumbs and other debris.
  3. 3
    Many car seats come with removable interior padding. Remove the padding and set it aside. You can also wash the padding on a delicate cycle, which makes things easier. Check the manufacturer’s instructions before washing.
  4. 4
    To wash it by hand, we recommend mixing a solution of Dawn soap and water. Scrub the padding with a soft brush or sponge.
  5. 5
    Let the padding dry thoroughly. To clean the buckles and straps, we recommend soap and warm water. Scrub the buckles with a brush to remove tough stains.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What is the best stain remover for car seats?

The best DIY stain removers are soap and water or vinegar, baking soda, and water. You can also use lemon juice to remove stains. You can find commercial car seat cleaners, which have extra ingredients to protect your seats.

How do you get the smell out of car seats?

We recommend using a solution of vinegar and water to remove odors from car seats. It will work well on any car seat type. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer.

What are some tips to keep your car seats cleaner for longer?

The best way to keep your car seats clean is to buy car seat covers to prevent spills and stains from penetrating the seat fabric.

How do you clean between your car seats?

When cleaning between car seats, we recommend removing the back seats to allow for full access. To clean between the front seats, you should use a damp towel to reach between the crevices. You can use a thin brush to get between the hard-to-reach spots.

How do you clean pee out of car seats?

You should mix a solution of warm water, vinegar, and dish soap. Use a scrub brush to apply the mixture thoroughly. You may have to scrub and rinse a few times before the smell will dissipate. Use a deodorizer to help eliminate the odor.


At Mechanic Scout, our goal is to provide you with the best information on how to take care of your vehicles. In this guide, we have provided you with a detailed description of how to clean car seats of all types. To ensure your car seats last a long time, we recommend buying car seat covers.