car upholstery

Spring Cleaning: Car Upholstery Edition

Upholstery is the trade of making stuff comfortable, like adding seats, padding, springs, fabric, webbing, covers, etc. Car upholstery is our bread and butter here at VIP European Auto Interiors. Our technicians can expertly install, repair, and design custom interior upholstery; from seats and carpets, to door panels and convertible tops, we’ve got you covered. 

Of course, you don’t always need trained professionals to take care of your car’s upholstery. Small stains or a full cleaning project is something you can tackle at home and is perfect for spring cleaning. But you can always call us if your carpets are too dirty to handle or if your seat’s leather took a beating during the winter. We’ve been doing it for years and fine auto interiors, carpets, and upholstery are our passion. Get a free estimate today, or give us a call and together we can start piecing together your sweet new upholstery.

Car Upholstery Spring Cleaning Tips

The first thing you should be aware of is what type of car upholstery you have. The tighter the weave in it, the more difficult it is to clean. Some materials will never get completely clean because of the weave!

So, before you start gathering cleaning materials, check out the interior of your car. Pay close attention to the “nap,” which is the amount of fibers that stick up above the bottom of the materials. A tight weave has very little of these fibers, while a looser one has a lot. Think of it like carpeting: you can brush your fingers along the upholstery and if you can leave a pattern behind, it’s a looser weave. 

The same is said for traditional cleaning methods, such as vacuuming: the tighter the weave, the more ground in the dirt can get, thus the harder it is to remove.

Though it is harder, it is not impossible. Just keep in mind that you may not be able to get up every piece of dirt or stain in tightly woven fabrics, no matter what type of or how much carpet shampoo you use.

Before you start tackling the stains, be sure to vacuum the affected area first. 

Cleaning Cloth Upholstery

There are several ways that you can clean your cloth car seats on your own.

You can use a mix of household items! Try lightly spraying club soda on the stained area and using a brush to scrub away the stain. You can wipe off the moisture with a clean towel after. Club soda is essentially carbonated water that has been used to clean stains for years. Some stand by it as a “miracle stain remover,” while others are skeptical. If it’s not your cup of tea, then you can try other cleaning methods using household items too. 

Try baking soda! Mix about ¼ of a cup of baking soda in warm water and use a toothbrush to scrub the stain away with the solution. If the stain is more ingrained, then allow the solution to sit for 30 minutes.

If you don’t mind the smell of vinegar, you can try mixing a cup of it with a few drops of dish soap and about a gallon (16 cups) of hot water in a bucket. Dab the mixture onto the stain (don’t pour!) and use a brush to scrub it out of the seat. You can rinse it off lightly with clean water once you’re done, but be careful to not soak the fabric. If you do, use a towel to remove the excess moisture.

For heavy-duty cleaning, you can use laundry detergent mixed with hot water. Simply dampen the stain with the solution and use a towel and cold water to scrub the stain away. 

Cleaning Leather Seats

Cleaning leather is a bit more complex than cloth, as you don’t want to risk drying it out or scratching it. 

You can try using a solution that is one part lemon juice and one part cream of tartar to create a paste. Work the paste into the spot with a soft cloth. If the stain remains after you work the paste into it, let it sit for a few hours. Come back and apply a little more paste, work it in and wipe clean. Do not use the paste on dark leathers, as it can have a bleaching effect!

You can also use a non-gel toothpaste and a clean gentle toothbrush to scrub the stain.

Again, if you don’t mind the smell of vinegar, you can try the above vinegar solution too!

Water spots can be removed from leather by moistening the area again with a little water, then letting it dry or gently blowing dry at a cool temperature. Never place leather in the sun to dry.


Vinyl fabric is resistant to dirt, water, and soil. Because of its resilience it can last for a long time if taken care of properly; however, if not taken care of and cleaned it can quickly deteriorate. Here’s how you clean it. 

Use a mild soap and water to gently clean the vinyl. You can either use a very mild dish detergent or you can purchase a vinyl cleaner. Use a soft, damp cloth to clean the vinyl to pick up any dirt, grime, and debris on the seats of your car. 

Take a new cloth and water to wipe away all soap. Finish by patting the area dry with a new towel to prevent any water stains. 

To remove difficult stains, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol to help loosen the stain.Be sure to test the rubbing alcohol on a smaller, less visible area of the upholstery to avoid any stains that become worse. 

What Not To Do When Cleaning Car Upholstery

When cleaning your car, you don’t want to have any excess water pool up, as this can cause cracking, mold, water stains, and mildew to form. 

You will also want to avoid any hard cleaners, chemicals, and brushes. 

Always test the cleaning solution in a hard to spot place before you use it on larger areas! You can never know how a cleaner or solution will affect your upholstery. 

If you feel as though you need an upholstery fix or a professional cleaning job, contact VIP European Auto today.