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Auto Detailing The Best Way To Clean Your Car’s Cloth Upholstery

auto detailing

Have you read our ultimate auto detailing guide? Even the most casual of petrol heads enjoy spending a little time making sure their pride and joy looks stunning. The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed something missing from our extensive coverage on how to clean your vehicle, we didn’t pay too much attention to the interior. Sacré bleu! Before you get all judge-y let’s fix it. After all, it’s what we do best.

Today we are only going to focus on the vehicle’s upholstery. This is by no means the beginning and end of the vehicle interior, but one of the most important parts. Nobody likes sitting on a seat which somebody clearly had their big mac on, however beautifully the rest of the auto may be detailed. So it’s important that seats and door panels get their due diligence. Automotive seat coverings fall into two broad categories. Cloth and leather. (Yes, we know there’s a thing called partial leather, pleather, velour, and vinyl but we don’t really want to sweat the small stuff.) Today we’ll discuss cloth upholstery.

The biggest enemy of cloth seats is water. They are like really large sponges and gleefully soak up any fluid leaving a nasty stain. Here are five tips to keep them looking swell:

1.   Vacuum clean.

This may sound obvious, but the average American spends one hour every day in their car. So it’s inevitable that crumbs and dirt end up on the seats. Vacuuming regularly minimizes the time the particles are in contact with the seat, preventing the ingress of oils and fats.

2.   Stain Alert!

The best way to treat a stain is as it occurs. Keep some stain remover handy so if junior spills his milkshake or your partner flings a latte (instead of their arms) around you your Jedi skills aren’t suspended. There are many different liquid stain removers available and most of them are pretty good. Just remember to test the one you buy first on a hidden part of the seat (such as under the bolster) to make sure that it doesn’t discolor the fabric. It is also important not to let the stain remover dry, so as soon as you get home, hit that spot with a sponge and some water or shampoo.

3.   Baby Wipes – A Secret Weapon

Every car should have a packet of baby wipes in the glovebox. These are essential for quickly and easily dealing with in-car food incidents. Never eat in your car? We still recommend them for when you want to freshen up your hands before touching your leather steering wheel and dash.

4.   Shampoo and Scotchgard

If you’ve just bought your auto (especially if it was pre-owned) you might want to shampoo and Scotchgard the seats. Even just a basic shampooing takes time, so make sure that you’ve got about half a day spare. The minimum necessary equipment is a can of ‘super clean’ or any other upholstery shampoo, a brush, and a microfiber towel. Got it? Good. Start by vacuuming the seats and carpets thoroughly. Spray the ‘super clean’ evenly over the seat without saturating it. Then brush the dirt out with a brush. We recommend the ‘nano stretch’ variety. Finish it off with a wipe with a damp towel. Scotchgard is a product that improves the water-resistance of fabric and therefore prevents stains. Once your seats have dried thoroughly (preferably overnight) give them a spritz with Scotchgard to make sure that they remain stain free.

5.   Deep Clean

If your cloth upholstery is really dirty you might want to include a deep clean as part of your detailing. This requires more equipment, specifically a pump sprayer, vacuum extractor, and either a drill brush or a handheld one (if you’re feeling energetic). If you have a shop vac, you can quite cheaply convert it into an extractor. Ready? Dilute your choice of liquid upholstery cleaner in the pump sprayer and make sure you cover the seats thoroughly. Agitate the soap using the drill brush, then rinse and extract it with the vacuum setup. Finish off the edges with that trusty microfiber towel from item 4.

Proper upholstery detailing isn’t for the faint of heart (as you can see). If you’d rather leave it to the professionals, feel free to pop into our Pompano Beach shop and we’ll handle the rest. Got a leather interior? Stay tuned for our upcoming guide on how to clean and care for it! That’s all for now, folks.

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