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Cleaning carpet

How To Clean Car Carpet

Over time the carpets in our cars take a beating from dirt, mud and grit from the soles of boots, shoes and whatever children do in the rear seats. It makes sense to protect the carpet with mats, the fitted ones are best, but dirt still has a way of working beneath and, mats or not, over time carpets get soiled. This doesn’t help when the time comes to sell the car, so here’s our guide for keeping car carpet in good order:

You will need:

  • Ideally, a covered area, like a garage.
  • Protective gloves.
  • A vacuum cleaner.
  • Cleaning products.
  • A small still brush (a nail brush is ideal).
  • A bucket of clean, warm water for rinsing.
  • Dustpan & brush

What to use to clean car carpet

Use a good quality, branded product to clean carpet, one designed for use on car interiors.

1. Dampen, don’t soak, the carpet first (not necessary if the material is already wet as above), apply the product sparingly and evenly, doing one foot-well at a time. Gently scrub the cleaner in, concentrated especially on badly soiled areas. When satisfied, rinse/wipe the area with a clean microfibre cloth to take up the excess and any grit pulled from the pile.

2. Use an absorbent drying towel to dry the carpet, applying as much pressure as possible to really draw out any excess. Allow to air dry.

Top Tip: In the UK most households are unlikely to have cooling fans handy but, if possible, in a garage with the car doors open, directing a fan into the wet areas of the car may help speed up drying. For smaller areas, a hair dryer might help as will a drive out, running the heating and air-con at full pelt to remove condensation.

How to clean car carpet odour

It’s unavoidable that various forms of dirt get transported into a car on passengers’ shoes. Sometimes things smell bad. Further, damp carpet can encourage the growth of mould, which can also manifest itself as an odour.

Essentially, the procedure is as above. You might also use a foaming fabric cleaner designed for the purpose that is ideal for quickly cleaning and deodorising foot-well carpet and other upholstery. A foaming product will lift dirt away from the carpet, working it in with a brush for stubborn stains. Simply wipe away the product with a soft, damp and clean microfibre cloth. It’s very straightforward.

How to clean spilled coffee and other stains on car carpet

Spilled coffee and some soft drinks can dry out and really leave a hard-to-shift stain. To remove, apply a foaming fabric cleaner, working it in to the material with a brush and wipe away with a damp cloth. If the area gets too wet, apply a drying towel to remove excess liquid.

How to clean car carpet without a vacuum

A vacuum cleaner is always a useful addition to the well equipped garage but it’s not always possible to use one. There may not be a power outlet, for example, or you may be away from home on a trip without access to tools. Holidays by the beach introduce sand to a car’s interior and, as with any form of grit, can be quite aggressive to carpet underfoot. Here are some ideas to help prevent a debris build-up:

1. Pick up any large debris by hand. Stones, even glass shards can be very damaging to car carpet. Dispose of debris carefully.

2. Get down with the good old dustpan and brush. A stiff brushing of the carpet pile will help loosen dirt and a clean sweeping motion will gather debris into a spot to make brushing into the pan simple.

3. A cleaning product will help lift debris from within the pile enabling the user to wipe away dirt with a damp microfibre cloth. Remember to rinse the cloth regularly to remove any loose grit.

Top Tip: Most cars have a decent amount of boot space, perhaps under the floor or in side cubby holes. Consider carrying some microfibre cloths, a drying towel, cleaning products and a dustpan and brush as part of an emergency cleaning arsenal. Stains are easier to remove form carpets and upholstery when still damp.

How to clean a flooded car carpet

There are various ways carpet in a car can get wet. The obvious way is to under-estimate a flooded ford across a stream! Water can also come in through a forgotten open window or sneak it’s way in through a faulty window or door seal. When car carpet gets wet immediate action is needed. It can quickly begin to smell and can grow dangerous mould, making for an unpleasant environment.

1. If possible, garage the car and open the doors to allow air to circulate. If it’s warm and the sun is shining do the same outdoors. Remove any loose mats and allow to dry outside the vehicle.

2. If you are lucky enough to have a wet/dry vacuum, that’s a good solution to suck up excess water. Most of us however do not have that luxury product so the solution is to use towels; that is, more than one.

Use top quality purpose-designed towels (household towels are not great for soaking up a volume of liquid) that have truly absorbent properties and press down hard on the carpet to squeeze out excess water. Repeat as necessary. If it is possible to put towels under the carpet then do so, in case water has collected on the metal floor. In short, the idea is to soak up as much excess liquid as possible before a necessary cleaning, which is the important next step.

How to clean car carpet with pressure washer

Some more rudimentary vehicles, like working pick-up trucks, have interiors that can be pressure-washed, literally hosing out the inside. The likelihood is though that you are not going to hose down the interior of your BMW. Soaking the inside of a car is not to be recommended. Yet there are circumstances where a pressure washer may help, especially with badly soiled car mats. Most of us use rubber or carpet mats to help protect the pile of the installed carpet. Some manufacturers supply them as standard others will put them on the options list.

Once removed away from the car, rubber mats can be pressure-washed. It’s an easy way to remove dirt and detritus and they will quickly air dry.

Carpet mats require more careful attention. Certainly, away from the car they can be pressure-washed but that will entail a soaking. They could of course be hung out to dry or have the excess water removed with pressure from a drying towel but it’s probably best to follow the cleaning procedure outlined at the top of this article. At least you won’t have to struggle inside the foot-wells.

Top Tip: To make rubber mats look better after washing, how about wiping them over with a little tyre dressing to make them look new again? It’s a thought.

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