5 Rules For Keeping Car Seats In Good Condition
Car seats are catch-all spots for dust, debris, and other kinds of mess.
When you get inside your car, you carry contaminants that get transferred to the seat surfaces and seat belts.
Bags that are put on office and school floors are unknowingly settled on car seats. Car seats also double as baggage counters for shopping bags and take-out food.
More often than not, car seats are victims of food and drink spills, pet hair, and worse, blood and vomit stains.
If not cleaned immediately, these contaminants can transform into stubborn stains that leave car seats looking disgusting and reeking with a nauseating stench.
But that’s not all you have to worry about. Sometimes, in an attempt to clean car seats, you end up making it worse.
You might unintentionally use the wrong cleaner or do the wrong cleaning process for car seats.
Because car seats are made from different kinds of material. There are car seats made out of leathers, some vinyl, and others cloth. What works for cloth can be damaging for leather.
Instead of getting it a thorough clean, you can end up discoloring the leather or causing premature cracks to develop.
In this post, we’ll talk about:
- The right process of cleaning different kinds of car seats
- How to get rid of different kinds of stains
- What you should avoid preventing damaging for the car seats
If you want to keep your car seats clean, fresh, and filth-free, this post is for you.
Let’s get right to it.
Cleaning Different Kinds Of Car Seats
Alcantara is a car seat material used for expensive cars. This synthetic textile gives the car an elegant look.
It’s mostly used for high-end performance vehicles like race cars.
The downside is, it won’t stand for daily family dynamics and it’s difficult to clean.
For stain removal, the cleaning work should be done 30 minutes from when it got contaminated.
Rule #1: Do not clean Alcantara car seats aggressively. It’s a sensitive material that requires being gentle. Do not scrub the surface, just wipe gently and do not saturate the surface with the cleaning solution.
Scrubbing the material and making it excessively wet can ruin the textured surface.
To clean Alcantara car seats:
- Wipeout loose dirt gently.
- Use a cleaner especially made for this material. If you can’t find any, try using a leather cleaning starting by doing a spot test in an inconspicuous portion of the car seat using a microfiber towel.
- Lather the stain with the cleaning solution.
- Wipe it dry with another microfiber towel.
Also giving a luxurious feel, leather is a pricey material for car seats. But unlike Alcantara, leather can handle daily use. Still, it’s not a good material especially in humid conditions because it gets hot too.
For cleaning leather, you can use leather cleaning solutions or mild soap. Use a damp microfiber towel to apply the product to leather. But again, do a spot check first.
Rule #2: Do not apply the cleaning solution all over the surface at one time. Apply the product in smaller sections. Especially if the leather has perforations.
It can take minutes to remove dirt or stain in one area, if you apply the cleaning solution all over, some areas can dry off before you start working on them and the moisture can seep into the surface reaching the foam underneath.
When this happens, the foam can develop smell and molds too.
After you finish cleaning each surface, use another microfiber cloth to rinse it and yet another microfiber cloth to buff it dry.
Tip: A warm environment makes the leather accept the cleaner better. If you live in a cold area, turn on the heater to warm up the surface before cleaning.
Leatherette is a more affordable choice than leather. But it’s not as sturdy as the former, at best, its best condition can last 10 years.
Also, leatherette doesn’t breathe well. In hot weather, the material can stick to your legs.
If leatherette car seats get spills, it’s best to wipe the surface with a damp cloth immediately.
Sometimes, a damp cloth alone can’t do the trick. In this case, you can mix warm water with 1 tablespoon of mild soap.
Wipe the surface with this soapy water and rinse with another damp cloth with warm water.
Rule #3: Avoid wiping the cloth on the car seat while it’s dripping wet. Wring the cloth first so it’s just wet enough to remove the stains.
Lastly, dry the surface with another cloth.
For tough to reach areas like the seams, use a cotton swab with the soapy mixture to clean the area, rinse with another swab, and wipe it dry.
Vinyl is more robust than Alcantara or leather. It is tough enough to withstand daily family dynamics. Still, it needs regular cleaning because no matter what the surface is, it gets in contact with outside contaminants.
Rule #4: Avoid using abrasive cleaning implements like steel wool. Also avoid using abrasive cleaning compounds like solvents, concentrated detergents, and acid-based cleaners.
Vinyl seats can last for years when more gentle cleaning implements like soft sponges and soft-bristled brushes are used.
To clean vinyl car seats that are not super dirty, a damp cloth wet by distilled water can work.
If it’s not enough, mix mild soap or an all-purpose cleaner with warm water until it’s sudsy. Dip the soft-bristled brush and scrub the surface lightly in circles until the stain is removed.
Rinse with a damp cloth and dry with another.
To make the work faster and more efficient, a car cleaning gun can do the trick. It cleans using the cleaning solution, compressed air, and brush attachment in one go.
Plus you’ll only need one dry towel, just to dry the excess liquid.
Best of all it won’t saturate the car seat with too much liquid because it only dispenses controlled amounts.
Polyester is a porous material so it’s prone to dust and all kinds of debris. This makes it easy for the material to absorb odors too.
To clean polyester you can use a microsuede cleaning solution applied to the car seat using a damp cloth.
If you can’t find any specialized cleaning solution, you can use low-PH soap like a baby wash.
Like leatherette, avoid getting the seat too wet because this type of material tends to get water stains easily.
To have better control of how much cleaning solution is used, using a car cleaning gun is the best choice. It doesn’t just over-expend cleaning liquid, it also dislodges dirt easily for uneven surfaces like polyester.
Nylon is a commonly used material for car seats. Like polyester, this material is also very porous.
Cleaning it is almost the same too. Mix warm water with a mild cleaning solution. Using a cloth, scrub the seat surface until the dirt or stain is removed.
If the cloth can’t do the trick, you can use a soft-bristled brush. After this step, rinse the surface using a damp towel (used cold water and wring to avoid making it dripping wet) and wipe off using a dry towel.
Getting Rid Of Different Kinds Of Stains
Different kinds of stains are made up of different chemicals so there are also different ways of treating them.
However, you also have to consider the different car seat surfaces. What’s safe for one surface doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous for another, especially if a more delicate material.
So as a word of caution, using the stain remover on the visible parts of the surface, try it out first in inconspicuous parts. Simply said, do a spot check first.
Mix water with hairspray or rubbing alcohol. Spray the solution on the surface and blot it out using a damp cloth.
For greasy stains, you can use a degreaser or a watered-down paint thinner mixed with water. (Don’t forget the spot check)
If it’s safe, use a cloth to apply the mixture to the surface.
If possible, dilute the stain quickly with cold water and use a paper towel to blot it out. If a trace remains, apply a glass cleaner and leave it on for 5 minutes. Blot again with a paper towel.
If the glass cleaner still isn’t enough, apply dishwashing liquid, rinse with warm water, and blot out with another paper towel.
Use cold water to dilute vomit stains. After this, wash the area using a mixture of mild soap and warm water.
To neutralize the stain, pour some club soda on a clean cloth and blot the stain out.
Or you can use a mixture of baking soda and water. This mix absorbs the odor too.
Bloodstains are hard to take out. To clean blood stains, soak a cloth in cold water to blot the stain out. Repeat this step until the bloodstain is removed.
Better yet, use a car cleaning gun with an appropriate cleaning solution to do the trick.
Rule #5: Do not use soap or hot water for bloodstains. These can set the stains.
These are the basic steps in cleaning different car seats and different stains. Just remember, to avoid permanent stains and discoloration, test the cleaning solution on a small portion of the car seat first.
And don’t forget, to avoid hours of scrubbing and to avoid wetting the car seat more than it should, use a car cleaning gun. It cleans faster and more efficiently than manual wiping or scrubbing.
If the surface is delicate, just remove the car cleaning gun’s brush attachment and lessen the air pressure.
But on most surfaces, the car cleaning gun works just fine.