How to Clean Upholstery in a Car With Home Remedies

by Robin NeorrUpdated August 31, 2017

Items you will need

  • 2 dishes

  • White vinegar

  • Baking soda

  • Toothbrush

  • Warm water

  • Dish detergent

  • Spray bottle

  • Stiff brush

Proper maintenance of your car upholstery does not need to be expensive. You can use all natural products that you have around your house.

Cloth upholstery can absorb odors over time. The night before you are going to clean your car's upholstery, place a dish of white vinegar in the front of your car and another in your back seat. Close all of the car doors and windows and allow the vinegar to absorb the smells and odors that have been hiding in your car's upholstery for months.

In the morning, open up your car and remove the two bowls of vinegar. Leave your car doors and windows open to allow the scent of the vinegar to leave your car. This is the perfect time to spot-treat any stains that you have on your upholstery.

While you are airing out your car, give the upholstery a thorough vacuuming.

Mix together a solution of 1 cup warm water and 1/4 cup baking soda. Apply this solution with a toothbrush on any stains on the upholstery that you can see. This works great on stains from coffee to ketchup. Allow the solution to penetrate the stain for 30 minutes.

While the stain solution is setting, mix 1/4 cup white vinegar, a few squirts of dish detergent and warm water in a spray bottle. Shake the mixture well and let it set for 5 minutes.

Once the half-hour has passed, take a dry towel and blot the areas where you applied the stain remover. Absorb as much of the liquid as possible to prep the area for the full upholstery treatment.

Spray the upholstery with the solution that you have mixed up. Start with the front seats, then move to the back. Once the seat has been sprayed, work the solution in with a stiff-bristled brush.

Once you have used the bristle brush on all of your upholstery, allow the mixture to sit on the seats for at least 15 minutes.

Take several dry towels and use them to absorb any excess moisture that the solution may have left in your car. Allow the car to further air out as long as possible, perhaps leaving the windows cracked all day long.


Do not oversaturate the upholstery. If your car does not have an unpleasant smell, you can skip leaving the vinegar in your car overnight.

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