How To Clean Car Carpet
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How To Clean Car Carpet: Guide For Every Car Owner 2024

So, how to clean car carpets, and what’s the way to achieve the best result? Most people say that it’s wise to hand the job over to a professional cleaner. Yet, this post is here to prove the opposite: you can clean your car carpet at home, and it costs next to nothing.

Cleaning your car carpet regularly turns out to be very important. Doing this will not only help maintain your car’s pristine condition but also keep you safe from contaminants like soil that has been treated with chemicals. (1) That said, let’s get to work right now!

Dirty Car Floor Mats
Like other textiles, your car carpet needs regular care and maintenance

An Overview Of How To Clean Car Carpet Like A Pro

In general, the procedure of cleaning a car carpet includes six stages:

  • Decluttering the car
  • Vacuum the carpet
  • Apply the cleaning solution
  • Scrub the carpet
  • Rinse the solution
  • Let dry

But, this post does not stop only with the instructions on cleaning a car carpet. Later, you will learn to remove particular types of stains in addition to the floor mats. Now, it’s time to swing into action!

Why Should Cleaning Car Carpet Be On Your Checklist?

Many people overlook the importance of cleaning car carpets. Besides footprints, drink spills, food fragments, pet hair, and pigment stains can make the textile look nasty.

Sure enough, it’s not pleasant to drive in such an environment. Over time, with the right conditions, dust and dirt will accumulate and even cause some parts of your vehicle to malfunction. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to such particles is indeed dangerous.

If you plan to sell your vehicle in the future, the resale value will likely decrease significantly. That said, car carpets should be cleaned once or twice a month to remove all toxic elements from the space. So, how will you do that? Start scrolling down now!

Wash The Car Carpet
Regular cleaning is the only way to maintaining your car’s interior

How To Clean Your Car Carpet Without Breaking A Sweat?

Overall, it’s pretty straightforward to clean the car carpet. To start with, declutter your stuff so that you have more room to maneuver. If your car has an organizational compartment, stash away small objects like keys or your children’s toys.

Then, assemble the following tools and supplies, and follow the detailed instructions below.

A General Guide On Car Carpet Cleaning

Below is the general guide for cleaning car carpets. Plenty of choices have been provided, so feel free to experiment with each to determine which one works best for you. It’s time to roll up your sleeves!

Tools And Supplies

  • Handheld or cordless vacuum
  • Soft brush
  • Cloth rags or paper towels
  • Gloves
  • Carpet cleaner or shampoo
  • Laundry detergent (optional)
  • Homemade cleaning solution (dish soap, vinegar, and club soda) (optional)
  • Steam cleaner (optional)
  • Portable car cleaner (optional)
  • Cordless drill (optional)
  • Extension cord (optional)


Step 1: After organizing your car’s interior, take out the floor mats.

Step 2: Use the vacuum cleaner to capture debris.

Next, you will vacuum the entire car, sucking up all the loose debris. Should you find other large particles while doing this, pick them up with your gloved hands. Your best tool for this task is a handheld vacuum, which gives you more freedom to maneuver.

However, if you don’t have one, you can opt for a regular home vacuum so long as you park your car near the outlet. You may have to use the extension cord, though, so prepare this in advance.

Note: Don’t just vacuum the seats! Areas around the pedals and crevices are also full of dirt and other tiny particles.

Step 3: Apply a carpet cleaner or shampoo to the stains on the carpet. If you prefer, feel free to go with home products like laundry detergent. For stains that take forever to come off, mix equal parts of dishwashing soap, vinegar, and club soda, then proceed similarly.

Note: Some commercial products must be diluted before using. Hence, don’t forget to check the label and read through the instructions carefully.

Step 4: Scrub the stain with a soft-bristled brush.

Let the cleaning solution sit for a while, followed by a thorough scrub. Use a brush to work the solution into the deepest fibers with repeated circular motions. For a more powerful effect, you can attach a specialized carpet brush to a drill and let them do all the job.

If your car carpet is covered with greasy stains, cleaning solutions won’t be enough. You will need a steam cleaner or, alternatively, a small-sized, portable carpet cleaner, to tackle such stains. These devices will also cut back on the drying time.

Step 5: Rinse the carpet thoroughly with clean water. Or, you can choose to wipe the surface using a dampened cloth or paper towels. Avoid soaking, as excessive moisture is the reason behind moldy issues, which are particularly dangerous in an enclosed space.

Step 6: Therefore, don’t skip drying. Open all the car doors, allowing the fresh air to dry your car carpet. After an hour or two, come back and check whether the area is still wet. If it isn’t, your mission is complete! You can now return the floor mats to their places.

Note: If you wish, you can rerun the vacuum. The residual carpet cleaner can attract dirt, so it’s worth doing so.

Your car carpet needs a deep-cleaning session today, so don’t hesitate

Watch this video: How To Super Clean the Interior of your Car

Cleaning A Car Carpet Affected By Flood

If your car has recently been a victim of massive flooding, the procedure is not too different. However, it would be more painstaking since flood water is contaminated with sewage and all sorts of pollutants. Therefore, you’d better gear up your protective clothing.

Tools And Supplies

  • Shop-vac
  • Fan
  • Cloth rags
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda or natural charcoal
  • Water


Step 1: First, park your car somewhere completely dry, such as a garage. Open the doors, windows, and trunks to maximize ventilation. If the floor mats are also affected, hang them dry. You’ll deal with them later.

Step 2: Suck up the water using a shop-vac and some cloth rags.

Step 3: When sewage is involved, your car carpet needs to be disinfected. Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide with water, then apply the solution to the entire surface.

Step 4: Vacuum the fluid out of the car carpet with the shop-vac. If you notice mold spores covering the area, reapply the solution to kill them off.

Step 5: Once the car carpet has become somewhat dry, power up a fan (if you have more, run them simultaneously) at the highest setting.

Step 6: To tackle the musty smell, place a box of baking soda or some natural charcoal in a container inside your car.

Cleaning A Car Carpet Attacked By Mold

Substantial water damage is sometimes more dangerous than you can imagine. If the right conditions are provided, fuzzy mold spores will start to grow on your car carpet. To fight off mold, household ingredients such as salt, vinegar, and clove oil are top-notch choices.

First, remove all wet items from your carpet, as a moist environment will facilitate its growth. Then, use a brush to scrub away large areas. Small movements are encouraged to prevent the spread of tiny spores. Don’t forget your mask and gloves while doing this.

As the clusters loosen, run the shop vac to suck up the spores. Dispose of the content. Now, it’s time for the ultimate treatment with salt, vinegar, and clove oil.

  • Salt: Dilute non-iodized salt (about a container or two) in a bucket of water. Apply the saline water onto the moldy areas with a brush and leave dry. Once the salt begins to crust over, vacuum them with the shop vac.
  • Vinegar: Wipe the mold colony away with a cloth rag dampened with vinegar. Severe cases will call for straight vinegar, but if you are facing only light streaks of mold, you can dilute it with four parts water to mitigate the acrid odor.
  • Clove oil: Clove oil can be up for grabs in any local grocery store, though it is not as common as vinegar. You can remedy mold with a simple blend of clove oil and water or employ additional ingredients like vinegar and baking soda for a better outcome.

How To Remove Stains And Odors From Your Car Carpet?

Now that’s how you clean a car carpet. It’s easy, and I bet you will notch up success on the first attempt. Moving on to this section, you will learn how to address more specific problems. They are different kinds of stains, from ink, vomit to beverage spills.

Dealing With Different Kinds Of Stains On Car Carpet

Accidents don’t just happen on the road. Sometimes, it takes place inside your vehicle, and it’s your car carpet that’s suffering the most. Here’s the stain treatment 101 you are looking for!

General Or Set-In Stains (Glass Cleaner)

With most kinds of stains, all you need is a bottle of glass cleaner.

Tools And Supplies

  • Glass cleaner
  • Cloth rags or paper towels


Step 1: Spritz on the stains, whether they are fresh or old, deliberately.

Step 2: After 5-10 minutes, wipe off the cleaner and let the carpet air dry.

Dirt And Mud Stains (Vinegar, Dish Soap, And Hot Water)

After a trip to the wilderness, your car carpet is bound to get dirty from muddy footprints and all sorts of dirt and soil. Yes, you can send your vehicle to the car wash, but why waste your money when you can clean it yourself at home with just one simple cleaning solution?

Dirty Car Interior Sand
Nothing ruins your day more than seeing your car covered in sticky mud

Tools And Supplies

  • Vinegar
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Hot water
  • Cloth rags or paper towels
  • Sponge
  • Stiff brush


Step 1: To eliminate loose dirt and mud, you will need a gallon of hot water, a cup of vinegar, plus a few drops of dish soap to create a cleaning solution. Stir the concoction well.

Step 2: Apply the homemade solution to the areas covered with dirt or mud using a cloth rag or a sponge. Then, scrub the surface with a stiff brush.

Step 3: Finish the process by blotting the area using a cloth rag or paper towels.

Drink Spills (Cold Water)

Spillage is a common issue when you are behind the wheels. From sudden crashes to sharp bends or whatever the reason is, the aftermath is sure to be such a nuisance. Lucky for you, such mishaps can be resolved with just cold water and some towels.

Tools And Supplies

  • Cloth rags or paper towels
  • Cold water


Step 1: Dampen the beverage spill with cold water.

Step 2: Blot the affected area dry with cloth rags or paper towels. With set-in stains, you will need more time, so be patient.

Greasy Stains (Paint Thinner Or WD-40)

What to do with greasy stains on your car carpet? In this situation, seek help from WD-40 or paint thinner. These products do a beautiful job cutting through grease and oil, whether it’s a new or day-old stain.

Tools And Supplies

  • Paint thinner or WD-40
  • Paper towels


Step 1: Since paint thinner can cause discoloration, it’s practical to conduct a patch test in a hidden area to check whether it can damage your car carpet. If it didn’t, apply the product to a cotton cloth and start rubbing the grease. Like previous methods, use circular motions.

If paint thinner is nowhere to be found, grab a bottle of WD-40 instead. This lubricant can be super effective against dried grease or oil. You can apply it as instructed with paint thinner or spray it directly on the stain.

Step 2: Blot up the solvent as much as possible using paper towels.

Vomit Stains (Club Soda)

It’s not easy to maintain the car’s interior when you have pets and kids. When they are ill or have car sickness, the chances are that they will throw up somewhere in the car, leaving a gigantic mess for you to clean up later.

Tools And Supplies

  • Club soda
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Cloth rags or paper towels


Step 1: Pour club soda directly on the stain. You don’t have to worry if it foams up a little bit. Allow it to sit on the stain for a few minutes.

Step 2: Once it stops bubbling, extracts the liquids using a cloth rag or paper towels.

Step 3: After the stain has lifted, the chances are that you will notice an unpleasant odor. To dissipate the smell, continue applying equal parts of baking soda and water to the stain. The mixture will start fizzling and soon refresh the scent of your car.

Old Gum (Ice Cubes)

What about sticky old gum? The problem is solved with a few ice cubes. Yes, no jokes!

Tools And Supplies

  • Ice cubes
  • Scrape
  • Gloves


Step 1: First, you will need the gum piece to firm up. To do it, place a few ice cubes over the gum. The cold temperatures will cause the gum to harden and slowly loosen from the fibers.

Step 2: Once the ice cubes have melted, pick up the gum using a scrape or your hands with gloves on.

Ink Stains (Hairspray and Salt)

If you have children, it’s little wonder to see streaks of ink on the car carpet. They sure look unsightly, but fortunately can be dealt with a spritz of hairspray and a pinch of salt.

Pen Tip Scribblin
No more ink stains when you have hairspray and salt

Tools And Supplies

  • Hairspray
  • Salt
  • Cloth rags or paper towels


Step 1: Spray the ink stain with a generous amount of hairspray.

Step 2: Immediately, sprinkle some salt on the stain.

Step 3: Rub the solution lightly with a clean cloth. Then, wipe it off with another cloth rag or paper towels, and the stain will magically disappear!

Dye Stains (Oxygen-Based Bleach)

Dye pigments are similar to ink but overall more challenging to remove. Sometimes, despite your painstaking effort, the stains do not seem to fade at all. If that’s the issue, try this paste, which combines oxygen-based bleach and a few drops of water.

Tools And Supplies

  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Water
  • Soft brush
  • Vacuum


Step 1: Mix oxygen bleach with a few drops of water to form a paste.

Step 2: Smear the paste onto the pigmented stain. Then, scrub it with a soft-bristled brush.

Step 3: Once the dye has washed out, remove the excess paste using the vacuum.

Note: Use bleach with extreme measures. If you go overboard, the carpet will lose its color.

Blood Stains (Laundry Starch Or Meat Tenderizer Powder)

Suppose that you have been involved in a minor car accident and injured, check whether the carpet has spots or traces of blood. If there are, laundry starch is here to help you out.

Tools And Supplies

  • Laundry starch or meat tenderizer powder
  • Cold water
  • Cloth rags or paper towels


Step 1: Combine laundry starch and cold water in a 1:1 ratio. Stir well until you form a paste. If laundry starch is not available, a meat tenderizer powder is a perfect substitute.

Step 2: Cover the blood stains with the starchy paste. Leave it on for at least half an hour.

Step 3: Remove the paste with cloth rags or paper towels. Your carpet is now good as new!

Tough Stains (Hydrogen Peroxide)

Some stains just need a single wipe, but others are a different story. If household products fail your expectations, bring in 3% hydrogen peroxide and a dab of toothpaste. They can bring the shine back to your car carpet in no time.

Tools And Supplies

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Non-gel toothpaste
  • Cloth rags


Step 1: Use equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and toothpaste to create an effective cleaning paste.

Step 2: Spread the paste on stains that take forever to come off. Let it sit for five minutes or more.

Step 3: Rub the paste with a cloth rag so that the stain will get out more quickly. Then, finish the procedure with a careful dab to wipe the paste off entirely.

Treating Unpleasant Odors Of Your Car Carpet

It’s no fun to travel in a car that stinks up with a horrendous odor. Whether it’s derived from your pet, fresh fish, or cigarette smoke, I got you covered.

Pet Odor (Borax Or Baking Soda)

There’s nothing more wonderful than a road trip with your adorable pets. Yet, as they get off the vehicle, you are stunned by a somewhat off-putting smell. Fortunately, you can disperse the smell with some borax or baking soda.

Tools And Supplies

  • Borax or baking soda
  • Vacuum or cloth rags


Step 1: Sprinkle the entire surface with a layer of borax. Give it an hour to neutralize the pet odor. Another option you can go with is baking soda, an all-purpose product that can easily be found in any supermarket.

Step 2: Once the smell has dissipated, remove the powder by running the vacuum or wiping it off with a cloth rag.

Fish Odor (Steam Cleaner)

Fish odor is the worst nightmare, no doubt. Therefore, after a fishing expenditure, consider revitalizing the space with a steam cleaner and an air freshener.

Tools And Supplies

  • Steam cleaner
  • Triangular brush
  • Crevice vacuum tool
  • Air freshener


Step 1: The most optimal solution to remove the fishy odor is steam cleaning. You will attach a triangular brush to the steam cleaner and run the device over the carpet. For smaller areas like around the pedals, use a crevice vacuum tool.

Step 2: Once finished, refresh the scent with a commercial air freshener of your choice.

Smoke Odor (Half An Apple Or Chlorine)

If you are a frequent smoker or have recently bought a used vehicle, the interior will probably stink up with a smoky odor. There are tons of tricks to get rid of this unpleasant smell, but I’m confident that you have never tried this one before.


  • Half an apple or chlorine


Leave half an apple at a corner of the car overnight. By the following day, you will notice that the smoky odor will no longer exist. If you want something straight-up refreshing, dilute a cup of chlorine with water, then put it in the corner of the car. It’s a 180-degree change!

Note: You can use chlorine to deal with pet odor, too.

Watch this video to know more:

Watch this video: Tackle the smoke odor in your car with just a cup of diluted chlorine

An Extra Guide For Cleaning Floor Mats

As you take out the floor mats, you notice that they are also in a deteriorating condition. That said, it’s time to give them a makeover before reinstallation. The process is as simple as how you would clean the car carpet, rest assured.

Rubber Floor Mat Car
The floor mats in your car come in various designs, colors, and materials

Tools And Supplies

  • Vacuum
  • Shop-vac
  • Cloth rags or paper towels
  • Sponge or brush
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Carpet cleaner or shampoo


Step 1: After removing the mats, shake them to loosen all the dirt on the surface. For a more thorough removal, run the vacuum on both sides of each mat.

Step 2: Subsequently, rinse the underside with clean water. You can splash it with a gallon of water or turn on your garden hose for maximum effect. Apply a few drops of dish soap to the surface and scrub continuously. Rinse again until the mats are no longer soapy.

Step 3: Next, turn the mats over and continue with the fabric side. If it’s made from plastic or rubber, follow the same instructions as cleaning the underside. If not, consider using a carpet cleaner or shampoo.

Saturate the mats with clean water, then apply an adequate amount of carpet cleaner to the surface. With a soft brush or sponge, work the solution into the fibers using a circular motion. Rinse afterward.

Step 4: Likewise, you will need to dry the mats before putting them back. If they are still wet and meet constant airflow, a mold colony will soon grow and thrive. In addition, wet textiles can also attract dirt properties more quickly.

To dry these mats, you have several options. You can either use towels or a shop vac, but it is your best bet to make use of natural sunlight. Reinstall the mats once they have dried out completely.

Cleaning floor mats is not a challenge at all, thanks to this guide.

Watch this video: Cleaning floor mats

Tips From Car Cleaning Experts You Should Not Miss

As usual, I have some extra tips to make the job easier from you. Don’t skip them!

  • Keep yourself protected: When working with chemical products, you are advised to put on protective gear like an air mask or rubber gloves to minimize health risks. Exposure to chemicals can lead to issues like burns, nausea, or drowsiness. (2)
  • Do a spot test: Not all commercial products are safe for your car carpet. To illustrate, hydrogen peroxide can cause discoloration since it carries relatively potent bleaching capabilities. Thus, test your products on an inconspicuous area to prevent damage.
  • Use circular instead of back-and-forth motions: Circular movements can improve your work’s productivity to a great extent. Dirt will be dissolved more quickly, and the solution can penetrate even the deepest fibers. Try it, and you will believe it!
  • Patience is a virtue: With stubborn stains, more than one attempt is required. Thus, don’t give up if they persist. Apply more pressure and repeat the process, and surely, the stains will vanish.
  • Upgrade your tools: If constant scrubbing did not seem to work, level up your game with equipment like a drill brush, a steam cleaner, or a hot water extraction unit. Such devices are normally up for rental at your local Home Depot, so stop by to check out.
  • Avoid oversaturating and dry properly: As mentioned earlier, a soaking wet textile is a major cause of mold, mildew, and other harmful bacteria. Thus, avoid saturating and fully dry your car carpet before using your vehicle.
  • Save yourself a future job: As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. If you want to reduce the amount of work in the future, consider investing in products like a protective spray, a trash receptacle, or pet stain recovers.

And, here’s a final reminder: should anything go out of hand, don’t be reluctant to ask for an experienced cleaner’s help. Otherwise, you are putting your precious carpet at risk of being damaged or ruined.

Cleaning Car Carpet Vacuum
A vacuum with strong suction will speed up your work significantly


Cleaning a car carpet can be quite meticulous, especially with first-time car owners. Hence, the following section is here to enlighten your mind with some of the most asked questions.

I applied paint thinner on a washcloth, and the solvent has left stains on it. How can I remove these stains?

In that case, dab the stains with a sufficient amount of liquid detergent. Use an old cloth rag to rub the stains. Another option is a degreaser, which can remove paint thinner much more rapidly.

Can I use cinnamon sticks to deodorize my car carpet?

Yes, you can. There are many approaches to deodorizing your car’s interior, from hanging a freshener to placing a bowl of coffee grounds.

Can I clean the floor mats by putting them in a washing machine?

It’s not a good idea, even if you decide to put the appliance on a gentle cycle. Since the mats are normally made from plastic or rubber, they can break down your device. Moreover, even if they survive from a wash cycle, their qualities are likely to degrade.

I've accidentally spilled some buttermilk on my car carpet. What should I do to get rid of the sour smell?

Pour a little alcohol over the buttermilk stain (preferably clear 95%, alimentary grade) and let it sit until evaporating. The smell should be gone hours later.

Can I use a fan to dry my car carpet?

Yes, you can. A box fan or a blow-dry will be suitable for this job, but perhaps it’s still best to let your car carpet air dry. This can help mitigate the musty odor that gives off later. Another method is to pile up the towels to squeeze out the liquid.

If you have access to a shop-vac or a hot water extraction unit, take advantage of it. The job will finish much more quickly.

Cleaning Car Carpet Is No Longer A Challenge

Well, that’s all you need to know about how to clean car carpets. From now on, you can finish the job at home instead of splurging your money on expensive car wash treatment. And, I’m positive that everyone in the family is now very proud of your handy work. Good job!

How did everything go? Was it plain sailing? Share your car carpet-cleaning experience with other readers and me via the comments. Thank you, and have a nice day!

How To Clean Car Carpet


  1. 2021. Soil pollution and risk to human health. [online] Available at: <>.
  2. 2021. What You Know Can Help You – An Introduction to Toxic Substances. [online] Available at: <>.

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Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones

Home Cleaning Specialist

Expertise: In-depth Knowledge of Cleaning Agents and Their Uses, Advanced Home Sanitization, Techniques Expertise in Cleaning and Maintaining, Various Floor Types, Innovations in Home Cleaning Tools

School: American College of Home Economics

Kevin Jones is a seasoned home cleaning specialist with over a decade of experience in the industry. A stickler for cleanliness and organization, Kevin brings a systematic and innovative approach to home maintenance. His expertise ranges from traditional methods to modern cleaning technology, ensuring homes are not just clean but healthy environments too.

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