The value of your car is greatly dependent upon the condition of the seats and carpet. Cleaning car upholstery is much like cleaning your living room furniture, as they are made from similar materials. The process you use to clean up your car upholstery is determined by the material from which it is made.
Before you clean car upholstery, be sure to thoroughly vacuum the carpets and seats of the car. Grains of sand, food crumbs and other debris can damages the seats or embed in the carpet during the scrubbing process. Use a high-powered vacuum, like those available at gas stations or car wash stalls, to remove dirt that is deeply ingrained in the fabric.
Fabric seats are the most likely to become stained, and develop odors, if spills aren't immediately cleaned. In order to clean car upholstery that is made from this type of material, you will need a spray cleaner specifically for fabric, which is available at all major car part stores. Spray the seats and allow the cleaner to penetrate into the fabric. With a damp cloth, scrub the seats vigorously, then wipe with dry cloth. Keep the windows down to allow the upholstery to dry thoroughly and prevent the development of mildew.
It is relatively easy to clean car upholstery made of vinyl, as the material doesn't trap stains. Spray the seats with vinyl cleaner, available at chain auto part stores, and wipe them down with a dry cloth. Apply a UV protectant to the seats to prevent cracking in direct sunlight.
Leather car upholstery is easy to clean, but difficult to car for. It develops sun spots, cracks and tears easily. To clean the seats, wipe them down with a leather cleaner and a dry cloth. For deeply embedded dirt, use a slightly damp cloth and scrub in a circular motion. Wipe the seats dry and apply a leather conditioner to keep the material soft and pliable. Follow up with a UV protectant to prevent the seats from developing sun spots and cracks.
Cleaning the carpets in your car is much like cleaning the carpets in your house. Apply a spot remover to any stains and allow it to penetrate deeply into the fibers before scrubbing. Use a carpet cleaner with an attachment feature to scrub the entire carpeted area. If you don't have one available, scrub the carpets with a carpet cleaner and a stiff nylon brush. Allow the carpets to dry thoroughly, with the windows down, to prevent the development of mold and mildew.