Removing Stains from Auto Carpets

by Amy Gordon
(last updated February 20, 2009)

All of us have at some point taken a quick bite in our car while hurrying to the next meeting, the kids' school, the hairstylist, the doctor—you name it. What we tend to forget is that eating in the car can leave ugly stains on our auto carpets and rugs that require Herculean cleaning efforts. In addition, there is always the risk of gasoline stains and other spills that are too numerous to list. In this article, we take a brief look at removing stains from auto carpets.

Most household carpet-cleaning products work well on auto carpets. However, given the fact that most auto carpets are littered with various metal components, using liquid carpet-cleaning products or "shampooing" auto carpets in a car wash can affect the metal and cause rust that seeps through and stains the auto carpets. The best option is to remove the car seats and auto carpets before cleaning them and wait for them to dry completely before putting them back in the car. Though it is time-consuming, this precaution ensures minimum damage to your car's carpeting, metal fixtures, and floorboards.

If the stain on your auto carpet isn't very large, the cleaning will not have to be very thorough, which means you can do a localized cleaning job using spray-on carpet cleaners. However, with all stains, the sooner you remove them the better, so don't allow the stain to settle for days.

Whatever you do, make sure the product that you use to clean your auto carpets doesn't damage the color or fibers in your carpet. The best way to prevent this damage is to test the product on a part of the carpet that is not usually visible, like under a seat or floor mat. Usually, you will have to run a vacuum cleaner over the carpets before you apply the stain remover, though with some products you can vacuum afterwards. The directions will usually tell you what to do. Additionally, you may have to use a scraping tool like a spatula or a hard brush to remove stubborn residues that will hamper your stain removal efforts.

Once the heavy dirt is out of the way, use a spray-on cleaner. Keep in mind that while chemical cleaners are sometimes the only way to remove stains from your auto carpets, simple soap and water and a sponge may be enough for mild stains, so try that first. You can also spray on a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. About fifteen minutes after you apply the peroxide, rinse it off with a solution of white vinegar and cold water. Wipe off the entire area with a soft cloth. Warning: hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent, so make sure you don't use too much.

Some people swear by shaving cream, which you can rub into the affected area and wipe off with a soft, wet cloth. However, shaving cream may not work with all kinds of stains.

For greasy stains, you will have to use chemical cleaners. As an alternative to spraying on a cleaner (which puts you at risk for breathing in dangerous chemicals), you can use a soft, damp cloth to apply the solution. Just wipe the affected area until the carpet comes clean. Whatever you use, vacuum once the auto carpets are dry to produce great results.

Ideally, you must dry your auto carpets outside. Make sure that the surface of the auto carpet is completely dry before you put it back in the car. A wet carpet is highly susceptible to mold or mildew, which can ruin it.

If a stain is spread out over a vast area, you are better off not trying to clean it yourself. As with everything else, professional help is available for this job. Finally, if your auto carpets are too severely damaged, you may consider replacing them instead of battling a stain that will not go away, and will lose you money in the bargain.

Author Bio

Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon loves keeping things simple, natural, and safe so she can spend more time having fun. Every day she learns new things about making life at home easier and she loves to share it with you! ...

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