Establish a number of routines for cleaning the car is not always easy. Is upholstery the big unknown? Today we will take a look at some basic tricks and tips to clean the car's upholstery, which will make things much easier for you. You'll see that making the inside of your car look like new won't be so difficult.

Cleaning tips for different types of upholstery

  • Fabric upholstery. The first thing you have to consider is that we are talking about an absorbent material, and so the best plan will be a dry cleaning process. If this is not sufficient, we can apply water with a neutral soap but using a liquid suction device at all times to prevent wetting the surface of the material over a long period of time.
    For a good result, first vacuum the upholstery and remember that the more powerful the vacuum cleaner is, the better. Then clean the material with a sponge soaked in water and liquid soap. Try not to rub too hard. If the stains persist, you can use dry foam for upholstery and leave it for about 10 minutes. Then remove the foam with a cloth, and vacuum again. Finally, you can apply a dusting cloth for a better result.

  • Leather. It does not have the fabric's absorption capacity, but it is an extremely delicate material, which means we must be extremely careful while cleaning it. The best procedure is to begin by vacuuming the area to remove all the dirt. Never use hard brushes, as these could damage the leather. You can find specific products on the market which prevent the leather from dehydrating. Follow the manufacturer's instructions at all times, and complete the cleaning process by drying the leather with a fresh cloth, and applying a hydrating cream to give the upholstery that day-one gleam again.

  • Alcantara. This fabric has a similar texture and touch to chamois. We find it on the seats, interiors and roofs of upmarket cars, and also on the steering wheels of some sports versions. There are products created specifically for cleaning this fabric, approved by the manufacturer. You must not allow dirt to build up, so establish a routine which may start off with removing dust, at all times using a soft brush, a dry cloth or a vacuum cleaner. Then you can wipe it with a cotton cloth, slightly damp, without applying too much pressure, so that the upholstery's colours do not run. If the upholstery is detachable, you can put it in the washing machine at 30º, with a neutral detergent and no spin cycle. Air-dry it and apply a soft brush.

  • If you need to clean off an isolated stain, don't let it dry. Take action within 30 minutes, and start by removing the remains of the substance with a spoon, kitchen roll or a sponge. Do not rub, to prevent the stain from spreading further out. Then clean with a damp cloth, which should be cleaned between each application.

  • Vinyl. This type of upholstery is made of synthetic materials, and it is much easier to clean because vinyl is impermeable, and so it does not absorb liquid stains. It is advisable to vacuum the area and then use a damp cloth over the entire surface. Never use ammonia, since this could impair colours. The best procedure is to use water and a neutral soap.

  • Microfibre. It suffers the most wear over time, and so it is the material that is most vulnerable to stains. To clean microfibre, we must begin with a thorough vacuuming procedure to remove any solid particles. We then mix water with ammonia and use a soft brush to rub the stains, taking care to brush from the outside towards the inside to prevent the stain becoming any bigger. Hot water is not recommended.
  • Products you can use to clean the car's upholstery

    • Clean with ammonia. Ammonia not only removes dirt and bad smells, but it also acts as a disinfectant, and eliminates bacteria and germs. It can also help restore the upholstery's original shine. If your type of car upholstery allows ammonia to be used, you must act quickly. The first thing you have to do is remove the largest particles. Then use a cloth or a sponge with neutral soap, followed by a damp cloth with ammonia. You can use this for stains caused by mud, chewing gum, coffee, chocolate, grease, vomit, make-up, blood and ink.

    • With bicarbonate. Bicarbonate is a disinfectant and a deodorant you can use to remove bad smells, grease and common stains from fabric upholstery. To do this, you have to dissolve the bicarbonate in a little water and use it to rub the stain. Leave it for at least 20 minutes, and then remove it with a damp sponge. If it is a difficult stain, add vinegar to the mixture and repeat the process several times.

    • Dry-cleaning. Dry-cleaning is the best way of carrying out a general cleaning of the car's interior. We begin by vacuuming the base of the seats, then the floor, always working from the inside towards the outside to pick up all the dirt. Then we apply a sponge with soap and water all over the material, working from the inside towards the outside. We will finish off with a dry sponge. It is easy to apply - just let it dry, and we clean with a dry cloth.

    • Steam-cleaning. If we prefer to steam-clean, we must bear in mind that we will not require any additional products to remove dirt, clean and hygienise any interior surfaces. The first thing you will have to do is remove any unnecessary items from inside the car. Continue by vacuuming all areas, and when you finish you can start steaming, adjusting the intensity so as not to damage surfaces. In addition to the seats, you can clean the glove compartment, the roof, the carpets, the floor, the pedals, the central control panel, the boot and even the engine compartment.
    • How to remove specific stains

      In addition to advice for general cleaning, you should bear in mind that for certain stains you must use specific products and exercise particular care. Here we offer you some pointers: 

      • Use ice to remove chewing gum stains. This hardens the stain, making it easier to remove with a spatula.
      • If the stain has been caused by coffee or carbonated beverages, it is important to act rapidly because it will be much more difficult to clean if it dries. In that case, you can use window-cleaner with hot water.
      • Use a sponge or a cloth moistened with a mixture of water and a degreasing agent. If the stain persists, apply diluted glycerine.
      • Chocolate stains can be removed by rubbing them with a damp cloth and liquid soap. Vacuum to prevent it from spreading.
      • Use a mixture of alcohol and water for ink stains, in equal parts, and apply it to the stain. Wait a few seconds, and remove without rubbing too much so that the stain does not spread.
      • It is advisable not to use make-up remover liquids to remove make-up stains, because this could damage the upholstery. You can use a mixture of alcohol and detergent for delicate items.
      • For mud stains, you have to be sure to vacuum the sand first and then soften the rest with water and a neutral soap. You can rub it gently with a wet brush.

       Tricks to clean upholstery

      • If the upholstery is extremely dirty, this will require a lot of work on your part, but dirt can be removed with household products, in accordance with our previous advice. Do not hesitate to seek professional advice in the event of any doubt.
      • Make the upholstery cleaning routine a habitual part of the car's maintenance.
      • Use basic products such as gloves, a bucket, a brush, a bar of soap and cloths.
      • In the case of difficult stains or specific kinds of upholstery, remember to use, as we have seen, suitable products (water, a neutral soap or a dry-cleaning procedure), and it is always important to read the instructions and recommendations for use if any specific liquids are used.
      • Accept that some stains may never disappear, and so do not insist too much, or you will eventually damage the upholstery.


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