How to Steam Clean Auto Upholstery

by Liza Hollis

Steam cleaning is an effective stain removal and car upholstery cleaning method. While regular car upholstery cleaners are good, they are not as powerful as machine steam cleaners. Using steam allows the machine to penetrate more deeply to remove dirt and stains. If you do not own a steam cleaner, you can rent one for a daily rate at home repair supply shops.

Remove all items from your car. This includes any trash, food mess, papers or any other items on your car’s upholstery. Remove any floor mats or seat covers. Seat covers generally do not need steam cleaning and can be machine washed.

Vacuum any dirt and debris from your car’s upholstery, using the vacuum's hose attachment. Use an angled nozzle to penetrate in between the folds of your car seats, on the flooring, on the headliner and around hard-to-reach areas such as between the seats and car door.

Test your steam cleaner on a hidden or rarely seen area of your car, such as in the trunk or behind the back seat. While most steam cleaners are appropriate for most upholstery fabrics, the heat of the machine may damage delicate materials. Test before using.

Set your steam cleaner to low or medium power. Use the triangle brush on the hose attachment to run the steam cleaner across your car’s upholstery. Start from one side of the seat and move vertically, taking care to cover all upholstery evenly and thoroughly.

Dampen a towel with warm water. As you steam clean an area of the car’s upholstery, use the towel to mop up the dirt. Rinse the towel periodically to avoid spreading the dirt along your fabric. Allow your car to air dry or use a hairdryer to prevent buildup of mold or mildew.

Items you will need

About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including USAToday.com. Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera vacuum cleaner image by vb_photo from Fotolia.com