DIY: Cleaning your car's fabric interiors

DIY:  How to clean your car’s fabric interiors


What: Fabric interiors mean cloth upholstery in your car, not leather. 


Where: Wherever you get stains


When: Every once in a while – if you allow eating, drinking and the like in your car, at least once a month.


Skill level: 2, because you’ve got to put just enough fluid on to clean the fabric without soaking thecushion beneath it.


Equipment level: 3. You’ll need some household items like toothpaste (really) , baking soda, dishwashing liquid, WD-40, bleach, vinegar and carpet shampoo. Your vacuum cleaner will be more help than you imagine, so get along that extension cord to the garage.




- Don’t get the car interior dirty in the first place. If you’ve ever tried to eat or drink in a moving vehicle you’ll realise that you are going to end up spilling something for sure. Stop in a shady spot, get out, eat, put the trash into a bag and then into the boot until you can dispose of it properly, and you’ll never have to perform this DIY. However, if you HAVE to...


- Brush all the dirt out of the seats and carpets with a stiff brush. You probably won’t be able to get them out of the cabin, but that’s okay. Because that’s a job for the vacuum cleaner. 


- Fire up the vacuum cleaner and suck as much dirt and dust as you can out of the cabin. Loosen any stubborn crud; don’t wait to let it get removed in the next few steps.


- If you’ve got lipstick stains, try rubbing a white non-gel toothpaste into the spot. Then wipe clean with a damp cloth.


- Acid stains are harder: rub a mix of baking soda and water at the affected area as soon as possible. Repeat if required, and top off with upholstery cleaner. 


- An alternative is a half teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in a litre of warm water. Beat it and use the foam to clean the affected area.


- Children could mean crayon marks on the upholstery. Scrape the excess crayon marks off with a knife, spray WD-40 and wait a few minutes. Scrub with a brush. Repeat until you’ve got almost all of the crayon out of the upholstery. If some of it is stubborn, add dishwashing liquid to the mix.


- For small soft drink stains, try using shaving cream. If that doesn’t work then you’ll have to use upholstery cleaner. 


- For ink stains, blot as much of the ink as possible. Then spray with hair spray and let it work into the stain for a few minutes. Then wipe with a dry cloth.  You can also use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, and then wipe dry with a clean cloth.


- For mold or mildew stains, use bleach that is safe for colour and 3 percent hydrogen peroxide in the proportion of one teaspoon to a cup. Gently rub the stain until it goes away and rinse it with warm water, then dry it thoroughly. It may be a little hard to do this during the monsoon, when mold and mildew stains are likely to occur. 


All the cleaning procedures mentioned here involve the usage of liquids. Make sure you don’t use an excessive amount of liquid during the cleaning process else it will end up as a mildew stain, which, in addition to being an eyesore, will make the car smell awful. Make sure you dry the bits of upholstery that are cleaned thoroughly once you are done with the DIY. 

DIY: Cleaning your car's fabric interiors