How Long Does It Take For A Car Seat To Dry After Shampooing?

So maybe you’re thinking about cleaning your car seats (or perhaps hiring a detailer to do it), and you’re wondering how long will the seats stay wet?

At this point, we’ve serviced hundreds of car interiors and we get that question all the time by our customers.

It’s actually been a bit of a surprise on how long people think it’ll actually take for the seats to dry.

Some had said a few hours (which isn’t wrong depending on the weather) and some have said a full day (which is a bit too long).

So how long does it take for your car seats to dry after they’ve been shampooed?

It depends on how the seats were cleaned and the current outside temperature, but from our experience, if it’s relatively warm outside, the seats will be 90% dry within 2.5 hours. If it’s cold outside or there’s overcast, it can take 3 to 5 hours to dry.

If you’d like to learn more, read on… 

It depends on the cleaning methods and temperature

I’ll touch on why the cleaning methods and temperature are the key elements to determining how long it’ll take.

Key element: Cleaning method

When it comes to cleaning your seats, you want to manage how much water you introduce to the seat.

There’s a foam cushion underneath the fabric of the seat. When cleaning the seat, you’re only using enough water/cleaner to remove the stain on the top surface level.

You don’t want to use so much water/cleaner that it penetrates both the fabric and the foam cushion underneath.

You also have a greater chance of the stain wicking back up once everything has dried if you use too much water/cleaner.

When we shampoo seats, we spray our cleaner onto the seat, agitate with a brush, and then extract the seats with our Aqua Pro Vac Extractor.

At no time are the seats heavily saturated. They’re never fully wet. For the most part they’re slightly damp.

So if you cleaned your seats (or had someone clean your seats) with a lot of water/cleaner, it can take a lot longer for it to dry since it penetrated really far down the seat, which will take longer to fully dry.

Key element: Outside temperature

When it’s relatively warm outside, the seats will have a much easier time to dry as the sun will bake the water/cleaner out of the seats.

The hotter it is, the faster your seats are going to dry.

If it’s cold outside, it’ll take a lot longer to dry because there’s nothing to dry the fabric. In our experience, even when you use a fan or an air mover to speed up the drying process, it still takes a much longer time to dry.

So if used a lot of water/cleaner on your seats and it’s cold outside, it can take several hours for the seats to dry completely.

How to speed up the car seat drying process

Method #1: Mop up the water/cleaner with a towel

Once you’re done cleaning, take a towel and soak up as much water as you can from the seats. You may want to use multiple towels per seat.

This method helps out a lot as you’re removing the top level water/cleaner.

Method #2: Keep the car outside in the sun with the doors or windows

If you can, leave your car outside in the sun with the windows/door opened for a few hours. You want air to circulate through the car as much as possible.

Do not lock the doors and windows on a hot day with the interior wet. That’s asking for trouble (mold).

Method #3: Use an air mover or a fan

You can set a fan or an air mover (just a stronger version of a fan) one a seat to dry faster. Give it 15 to 20 minutes and check if the seat is dry.

If it the seat has dried enough, move the fan/air mover onto the next seat. If not, then check again in 15 minutes to check the status.

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