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How to Remove Stains from Car Seats

Updated on October 14, 2011

A Stain in your Car Seat - Disaster or easily fixed?

It's happened to all of us at one point or another - you've taken such good care of your car but even after all that hard work and effort, you or someone you know or love has managed to stain your otherwise perfectly kept car interior!

We'll go over how to clean most types of stains out of your Car Seat. Most stains can be easily cleaned, but if they are permanent (like bleach, for example) your best option is to buy one or more Car Seat Covers to cover up the stain.

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Tea & Coffee Stains

If you have spilled coffee on your car seat , attack a coffee stain on carpeting, upholstered furniture, or upholstered car interior with this simple method. Squirt some shaving cream into your hand and spread it on the stain, covering the entire area of the spill. Let the shaving cream sit on the stain for a few minutes. Blot the coffee stain with a clean absorbent cloth. Repeat until the coffee stain is gone.

Food Stains

Mild food stains can be taken care of with soap and water, but for harsh stains brake cleaner is a good product. It's excellent for harsh colored foods like mustard or tomato paste. Remember to never add brake cleaner directly to your car seat and apply it on a rag first. Remember the tougher the stain the tougher you are going to have to scrub and the longer you let a stain sit and harden the more work for you, so keep that in mind next time something spills, drop, or smear onto the car seat.

Paint Stains

There are different paint removal techniques to use depending on whether you are painting with a water-based or an oil-based paint. This article will provide basic instructions on how to remove both kinds of paint from carpet.

Water-based Paint Stains on your Car Seat

Once latex paint is spilled or splattered onto your car seat, it must be cleaned up immediately. Otherwise, the paint will adhere itself to the car seat and become a permanent stain. First, use a dull tool to scrape up as much of the paint as you possibly can. Then use a damp sponge to remove the rest of the paint, using gentle strokes starting in the center of the stain and moving towards the edges.

Apply a dry spotter to the stained area of the car seat with an absorbent cloth and let it sit over the stain. Keep checking to see how much of the stain still remains and leave the cloth in place as long as you can still see any signs of the paint color on the carpet. As the cloth starts to pick up some of the stain replace it with a new cloth. During this process, keep both the cloth and the stain moist by using the spotter liquid.

Once you are satisfied that you have the paint out of the car seat, wash it with warm water and apply some wet spotter. Unless the fabric is made from silk or wool fibers, you can also add a few drops of ammonia to the water.

Oil-based Paint Stains on your Car Seat

Check the paint container to determine which type of paint thinner works with this paint. If there is none mentioned, then you can use turpentine because this always works well.

Try to keep the paint stain contained to the area so that it doesn't spread to the surrounding carpet and become much larger. Apply the paint thinner to the area and soak up the paint. Rinse the stained area with warm water and dish detergent and then appraise the situation to determine if you need to repeat the process. You may have to repeat the steps several times in order to get all the paint out of the carpet. Then rub the area with a bar of soap and then rinse it again.

Bleach Stains

Unfortunately, a bleach stain on your car seat is nearly impossible to get rid of. Bleach is a type of chemical that is used to remove other types of stains and when it makes it's way to fabric in an undiluted form, it wreaks havoc.

The good news is that you don't have to throw out your car seat or get it completely refinished. If you have a bleach stain and prefer not to look at it every time you get in your car, one option is to purchase affordable, custom-made Car Seat Covers. Most online stores will make your Car Seat Covers custom for your car seat and ship it to your door at a very affordable price.

Dirt & Mud Stains

It's already been said to death how the key to getting rid of stains and spots from the car seats is timing. The speedier you respond, the higher likelihood you have of getting the area totally clean. Interesting aspect about cleaning mud out of your car seats is that you'll want to do the complete opposite.

When you have mud in your car seat the first thing you should do is to get the big clumps that are easy to get up. Try a spoon or dull instrument and scrape up those easy to remove chunks. Make sure to not smear any of the mud. You want to make this clean up as easy as it can be and smearing will only lead to more work for you.

After clearing away the large clumps the following step will be to leave. That's correct simply let it rest. What you are doing is allowing the rest of the mud dry completely. Once the mud has dried it essentially turns back to dirt. You now need to utilize a brush to gently loosen the dirt particles and remove them with a vacuum cleaner. Yep, it is really that easy.

Now that all the dirt has been removed you may have some staining. This can be treated with an over the counter spot cleaner or you can try a household mixture of water and a mild soap or detergent. Simply apply some of the solution onto the stained area and blot with a clean towel. As with any other spot you don't want to rub.

Apply the solution. Blot with the towel then rinse. Repeat these steps until the area is clean.

After you have removed the stain you should still rinse the area with some clean water and extract. If you have a shop vac you can use that for extraction, otherwise just grab some clean towels and blot the area dry. This will reduce the possibility of solvent build up and remove any remaining residue from the cleaning process.

Mud happens. Luckily it's not the most difficult type of stain to remove. Let it dry and follow the same steps you would with any other stain removal process. Just remember to blot rather than rub and always rinse after you're done.

Ink Stains

The first step you want to take is to extract as much of the ink as possible from the car seat. This can be done by blotting with towels or using a shop vac. If you are using towels to blot the spill make sure to change them out often. Once a towel absorbs a good amount of the ink you do not want to reuse it. All you would be doing is applying the ink back into the car seat.

The most convenient way to extract the ink is with a shop vac. Do not rub at the spot with the head of the hose. Just put the hose over the ink and let the vac do all the work.

Once you've extracted as much of the ink as possible you can begin the spot treatment process. Depending on the size of the area you have a couple of options. For light spots you can try a solution made from a tablespoon of dish detergent and a cup of water. Apply to the area with a spray bottle and blot with a clean towel.

Remember to never rub on a stain. All this will do is drive the stain further into your car seat. Blot until the towel is soiled and then replace it with a new one. Repeat applying the solution and blotting until the spot is removed.

If the ink is a little more severe you may use rubbing alcohol. This is regarded as one of the best solvents for getting out ink stains. All you want to do is apply some alcohol on a clean towel and blot until it is gone. Don't forget to rinse the cleaned area with water once you are finished and extract with a shop vac or a few dry towels. This will prevent solvent build up that can cause stains to return.

Blood Stains

Act fast. Car seats today usually come with stain-resistant treatments, so even blood can be removed if you get it right away. The longer the delay, the more difficult removing any stain becomes, and there are no stain-proof car seats yet. With blood, the process of coagulation makes it especially hard to get the stain out if it is old and dried.

  1. Rinse and extract the blood stain with cold water. Apply just a little at a time, so you don't spread the stain. Hot water can set the stain, making it permanent, so use only cold water. Add the water, then blot it up with a clean white cloth or white paper towels. You can also suck the solution out with a shop-vac, which means less of a chance of spreading the stain
  2. Remove the remaining stain with a solution of a few drops of Dawn dish washing detergent in a cup of cold water. Work it into the blood stain, but be careful not to spread the stain. Blot the area with a clean white cotton cloth or white paper towels, but don't rub the stain, as this can damage the fibers. Damaged fibers hold stains and get stained in the future more easily.
  3. Repeat the process as many times as is necessary, or until there is no more transfer of the stain from the car seat to the cloth or paper towels. Then blot up excess water when you are done.
  4. Leave the fan blowing on the area to dry it quickly. Otherwise, set a stack of paper towels (white) on the stained area, or a couple clean white cotton cloths, and put something heavy on them. Leave this to blot up the remaining liquid, replacing the cloth or paper towels as necessary. Fast drying keeps any remaining stain deeper in the car seat from "wicking up" to the surface and becoming visible again.

Some have reported good luck using club soda to remove blood stains, so if the above instructions don't work, you can try that next. It's not easy to predict which stains will come out and which won't until you try. As with all stains, use water first before trying other solvents for blood stain removal.

Urine & Feces Stains

Dogs really like to sniff around stuff they enjoy and in addition to that, influenced by dog impulse, they mark their territories with urine, they sniff around it and urinate once again in the very same place. For that reason, it is necessary for pet owners to promptly clean the urine spot on the car seat in order to eliminate the undesirable smell brought on by dog urine.

Here are some tips for you to clean car seat stains resulting from dog urine:

  1. If the urine is still fresh, grab a towel; fold it in two, lay it on the stain and step on it until it has absorbed the urine as much as it can. Remember not to use paper towels because they are costly, not reusable and impractical. Repeat this step, until the dog urine can no longer be extracted from the car seat.
  2. In the event the spot has dried up, combine 3 parts warm water along with 1 part vinegar inside a container and pour the concoction over the spot. The chemical reaction will allow the stain to become softer therefore it will make it less difficult to get rid of and get rid of the smell of dog urine. Utilize towels in order to dry out the spot softened by vinegar.
  3. After, pour baking soda on the stain and leave it to set. Baking soda is used as an effective cleaning tool in removing stain and odor because of its antiseptic properties.
  4. Finally, after the baking soda has settled, mix hydrogen peroxide together with a small amount of dish soap or detergent within a container and pour the solution upon the stain and allow settle at approximately 5 minutes or until it has saturated. Slip on some rubber gloves and blot the spot to properly clean the urine and eliminate the scent.

Regarding dog feces, the identical technique for getting rid of dog urine is going to be used with the exception that, prior to doing such, pick up the poop by using a dustpan or paint scraper and then follow the previous methods as provided above.

What next?

Still can't get rid of those awful stains? Maybe it's time to invest in some Car Seat Covers. They come in many sizes and colors to match the size and interior of your car.

Guestbook Comments

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I was told to use that oxi clean laundry detergent on my car seats. I did exactly what it said to do and it ended up putting bleach spots on my seats instead. What can I do?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Oh, I am not sure if it is leather or vinyl but has a smooth surface...

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      i have an unusual stain. Not really a stain maybe more like paint/ink.

      When my car seat was hot i set the auto repair manual on the seat and it sat there

      for sometime. I picked it up and it was stuck to the seat. Underneath was the printing from the cover

      on my seat. Grrrrrr. save my 64 falcon seat. It is all beautiful red now that spot.

      Being hopful

    • productosexpres profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice lens. I did one lens similar, but mine is for clothes, I show you I hope you like it and you can take some tips for yours. It is not already finished, but I need few time for add more information.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice... i have always thought about how to get rid of mud stains off my car seat.. thanks will try today.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens


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