How to Deep Clean Fabric Seats
One step on the winter checklist that’s haphazardly done or altogether skipped is deep cleaning the seats. Alien Enclosures emphasizes the importance of finishing the trunk to any classic. However, what’s the point of a finished trunk with musty, old seats? Even if you think your seats look clean, you’d be surprised what is hidden in them. Getting your interior looking new again is an easy and safe project you can finish over the winter months.
What You Need
- A powerful vacuum
- Brush set (toothbrushes work well)
- Several microfiber towels
- Extractor vacuum
- Carpet and upholstery cleaner
Seat cleaning is best done with the seats removed. If your storage isn’t heated, no problem. You can take the seats elsewhere in a warm, dry location.
First and foremost, disconnect the negative cable from your battery. You want to do this because you may have the doors open for extended periods. Also, you’ll be removing the seats. Some cars, typically newer models, have airbags in them. You want to disconnect the battery and let it sit for 20 minutes so the capacitor is empty.
Next, you want to remove the seats. Slide the seat back so you can see the bottom two screws in the front which you’ll take out. Slide the seat forward to do the same to the two screws in the back. Angle your seat back in case any wires need disconnecting. After any or all wires are disconnected, you can carefully take out the front passenger and driver seat. In the backseat, there should be two handles or levers underneath the seat that will allow you to remove the bottom part.
Cloth Seats: Part 1
First, remove all the surface dirt using your powerful vacuum cleaner. However, as you vacuum make sure you get into crevices where the stitches are. A helpful tool to use with this process is a toothbrush to loosen any stuck dirt.
After the seat is vacuumed and stitches have been checked, spray the seats with a carpet and upholstery cleaner. Next, use a brush to rub the cleaner into the material of the seat. Once finished brushing, grab your microfiber towel to wipe down the dirt out of the cushions. Plus, don’t forget to get into the hard to reach crevices as well.
However, a towel can only clean so much. Underneath the fabric is foam which absorbs liquids, oils, and other grime. If you ever get your clean-looking seats wet and notice new stains, it’s because of the dirt hiding in the cushion. Some people think that rainwater can stain seats. It’s most likely dirt coming to the surface.
To get this tough crud out, use an extractor vacuum with plain water. Saturate the seat and suck out the wet grime with the vacuum. Take your time and be thorough going over the seats multiple times.
Once finished with the fabric, go down to the bottom of the seat and start cleaning the brackets and sides. Grab the interior decal cleaner, the microfiber towel, and wipe down the dirt and dust on the sides. Next, get your protectant and spray some into a brush. Use the brush to wipe down the sides. Get your (CLEAN) microfiber towel and wipe any residue away.
For the metal brackets, use the vacuum first to suck out any larger pieces of dirt. Next, wash it with soapy water and brush it with your toothbrush to get any extra dirt loose. Finally, wipe it off with your microfiber towel. Also, use the toothbrush similarly for the seatbelt holder.
Lastly, remember to clean the seatbelts! Even though seatbelts can look clean, think of all the times they have been touched and absorb oils and other residues from your hands. Pull the seatbelt all the way out to the end and use a clamp to hold it in place. Get your carpet and upholstery cleaner and a clean microfiber towel. Saturate the towel with the cleaner. Grab the seatbelt with the towel and wash it in an up and down motion, getting both sides of the belt. Next, get another clean, dry microfiber towel and dry it using the same method.
If you want to get the seatbelt as clean as possible, use the extractor vacuum. Like the seats, soak the belt with the water. Then suck the water out. Don’t forget to get both sides. Once finished, let them dry.
Lastly, the back seats and the armrest. Start by vacuuming inside and outside the armrest. If there’s a sticky mess, use a steam cleaner to lift any grime. Spray it down with soapy water and wipe it down with your microfiber towel. Get a clean brush, spray some protectant into it, and paint the armrest with the solution. Let it soak in and wipe it off with your towel. With the fabric part, use the carpet cleaner. Then use the extractor vacuum to suck out the dirt.
For the back seats, use a vacuum to suck up any dirt also using the toothbrush when necessary. Spray it with carpet cleaner and lightly brush it into the seat. Then use the extractor to suck out the dirt.
Once you’ve finished and your seats are looking like they were in 1969, let everything dry before putting it back together. Stay tuned for the next blog on how to deep clean a classic’s leather seats.