How To Remove Stains From Car Carpet

So you got a stain on your carpet.

Yikes. That’s never cool.

Is it a spilled drink? Food? Crayon mark?

In this article, I’ll walk you through a very simple process of getting stains out of your interior.

This should take you only a few minutes to do. So if you need to clean up a stain before anyone else notices, you’ll be okay. 

Get Your Tools and Products

We actually do this type of work in our detailing business.

Since we do this professionally, we have a bunch of machines, cleaners, brushes, towels, and experience to take care of a wide array of stains.

However, I’m going to assume you have cleaning supplies and you’re willing to drive down to your local auto parts store to pick up a few things.

I will also assume that you don’t want to spend that much money. So we’re going to keep everything under ~$25. This may vary depending on where you live and what you buy.  

You’ll need a FEW items to get the job done:

Thing 1: A cleaner of some sort. I’ll be using this Turtle Wax interior cleaner I purchased locally for $7.

Thing 2: A brush to agitate the carpet/fabric (or you can use an old toothbrush). You can also get away with just using towel if you don’t have a brush.  

Thing 3: A few towels to agitate (if that’s what you want to do) and mop up the cleaner and stain.

Thing 4 (optional): You might need a vacuum (if you don’t have one, there’s another solution).

Turtle Wax Upholstery Cleaner, small brush, and a towel

There are so many brushes and cleaners available. Don’t overthink it. Buy something based on what’s available and what you can afford.

If you’re concerned about a few stains throughout your interior, you can keep everything very simple.

If you have multiple stains to clean across your interior, then you may want to purchase multiples bottles and a brush so you have enough to get through the interior.

Here’s how the cleaning process will look like:

Vacuum > Spray > Agitate >  Mop Up > Inspect > Repeat (if necessary)

Let’s get started…

Step #1: Vacuum The Area You’re Going To Clean

If there’s a lot of crumbs and debris over the stain, you’ll have to vacuum that up before you get to the cleaning part.

As mentioned above, if you don’t have a vacuum, then you can use a paper towel to pick up any loose debris.

If possible, you can also use your brush to sweep or rake the debris into a pile and just pick it up with your hands or napkin.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, but get most of what you can off the area. If area that doesn’t have to be vacuumed, you can bypass this part.

Step #2: Spray and Agitate The Stain   

Now we’re moving to the main part.

You’ll want to work in the stain in sections depending on the size of it.

If it’s a big stain break it up into sections.

Don’t try to tackle the entire stain in one go as the product might dry before you actually get to it. Because then when you dry to agitate with your brush, you’re not being as effective since the cleaner dried up.  

Then you’ll end up getting mad/frustrated that you didn’t get the results you were hoping to achieve and nobody wants that 🙂

Spray a small amount of cleaner onto the stain and let it sit for 5 to 10 seconds (you don’t need to over saturate the carpet).

You want to give the cleaner a few seconds so it can soak into the fabric and start breaking apart the stain.

Since it’s a foam sprayer, you can try patting it down into the fabric to help penetrate the fabric faster. 

Next, get your brush and start agitating.

Use medium pressure and work the brush forward-and-back and side-to-side.  

Finally, mop up the cleaner and dirt with your towel immediately after you’re done agitating a section of the stain.

When you’re cleaning the stain, you’re lifting all the nastiness out of the carpet.

If you don’t wipe it up with a towel, you’re essentially letting it seep back down into the fabric. Once it dries, you’ll have to do the cleaning step again.

Step #3: Inspect The Carpet 

Did the stain come out?

Is it any better?

Compared the top photo (original) from the bottom photo (after we cleaned the small section of the stain). 

If you’re happy with the results, then great! All you have to do is let it dry for a few minutes and you’re back to new.

If you’re NOT happy with the results, then you’ll simply have to reapply the cleaner, agitate, and inspect your results.

That’s literally it.

No need to overcomplicate the process. You’ll repeat this process for all the stains you want to clean up.

What if the stain doesn’t come out?


That can definitely happen.

It happens to us all the time while we’re working.

We think the stain is going to come out, we do our steps, we inspect our work, and then BOOM, stain is still there.

When that happens, you may just need to repeat the process or change something up.

For instance, maybe you need a stronger cleaner, maybe you need to apply more pressure to the brush, or maybe you need to agitate the carpet a little longer.

It also depends on the stain that you’re working on.

As an example…

If you spilled coke on your seat 5 years ago and you now want to clean it up, it may not be able to come out all the way anymore.

You can still make it look a lot better, but perhaps the stain has gone too far to remove altogether.

So you can continue to repeat the process outlined above for better results.

You can also upgrade the cleaner to something stronger. I’d recommend upgrading to Super Clean. It’s one of the most used products in our business.

They sell at retail level at local auto parts stores. You can use the Super Clean aerosol can or they’re 32oz spray bottle.

So get out there and take care of that stain!

Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

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