If you use your car regularly or your passengers happen to include small children, teenagers or family pets, a good car carpet stain remover always comes in handy. US drivers spent about 89 billion hours driving between 2019 and 2020, according to data from the US Census Bureau. More hours spent behind the wheel increase the likelihood of car carpets ending up with stains, no matter how careful we try to be on our travels.
Stains can range in size and severity. For example, coffee or soda spillages and oil or dirt transferred from the soles of shoes (or paws), can spread over a large area of the carpet inside your car. Smaller and more stubborn stains include colorful crayons squished into the carpet, pen ink, melted chocolate, chewing gum, mud and grease. However, it can work out quite expensive if you resort to store-bought products each time you need to fix the problem. Instead, a homemade car carpet stain remover can be just as effective and a lot less expensive.
DIY Car Carpet Stain Remover
Take a look at our step-by-step guide for when you want to make a DIY car carpet stain remover to tackle the toughest stains but without harsh chemicals.
1. Select Your Tools and Equipment
You don’t need expensive tools or equipment when you need to clean carpets stains. You will probably already have most of the items at home. If not, you can easily buy them at your local store or supermarket.
- Microfiber towels
- Paper towels
- Spray bottle
- Small mixing bowl
- Vacuum cleaner
- Rubber gloves (optional)
It is also useful to have a slightly larger bristle brush to hand, especially if you ever need to clean salt from car carpet. Use the brush first to gently agitate the salt stain. Then apply your homemade car carpet stain remover, see below.
2. Collect Your Ingredients
The ingredients for this effective, homemade car carpet stain remover can be adjusted according to the type of stain. Water is a natural diluting agent when it comes to making a stain remover, so you can add less or more depending on the severity of the stain. A multi-purpose stain remover to treat common car carpet stains will include the following:
- Distilled white vinegar
- Dish soap
- Lemon juice or lemon/lavender essential oil
For particularly stubborn stains and odors:
- Baking soda
3. Make the Car Carpet Stain Remover
Use your funnel to avoid spills when pouring liquids into the spray bottle. If you don’t like the smell of the vinegar, simply add a couple of drops of lemon juice or essential oil to create a citrusy fresh scent.
- Add equal parts vinegar and water to your spray bottle. For example, ¼ cup of vinegar to ¼ cup of water
- Shake the mixture well
- Add 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Dish soap is great for cutting through grease
- Add a couple of drops of lemon juice/oil or more if you prefer a stronger fragrance
- Shake again
If the stain has left an unpleasant smell on the carpet or you want to clean mold out of car carpet, it is a good idea to use baking soda. Not only will it remove the stain but it will also get rid of any bad odors. Simply mix 1 tablespoon baking soda in a small bowl with enough water to create a paste. For larger stained areas, mix ¼ cup baking soda with 1 cup warm water.
Baking soda is a cost-effective alternative to store-bought car carpet stain remover products. This eco-friendly mild abrasive has antibacterial properties that also help to eliminate any nasty odors from a stained carpet. It is also good for removing pet odors in general from the inside of your car.
4. Car Carpet Stain Remover Technique
First, you could try a little of your solution on an inconspicuous area of carpet, just to make sure it isn’t decolorized by your stain remover. Then start on the stained area. Remove any loose particles or dirt. For example, lift off chewing gum, chocolate, crumbs or road salt from the carpet. Then do as follows:
- Spray the stain with your soapy, vinegar solution
- Dab the stain with a clean cloth, gently rubbing the carpet to get the mark out
- Blot up any excess soapy water and moisture with a dry microfiber or paper towel
For stubborn non-greasy stains and odors, gently rub your baking powder paste into the stain. Work at the stain with the sponge, toothbrush or bristle brush according to the severity of the problem. This action will work the car carpet stain remover deeper into the fibers of the carpet.
If you are dealing with a larger stain, such as a coffee or juice spillage, do the following:
- Sprinkle a generous dose of the baking soda directly and evenly onto the carpet stain
- Spray with a light mist of warm-to-hot water
- Gently work the baking soda into the stain to get deep down into the carpet fibers
- Leave to sit for at least a couple of hours
- Blot up excess baking soda with a paper towel
5. Vacuum Car Carpet for Spotless Results
Once you have used your car carpet stain remover, vacuum the area to leave it looking like new again. Then open all the car doors and windows to let the air circulate while giving the damp areas of the carpet or mats a chance to dry properly. Note, if you think your car carpets are starting to lose their good-as-new looks even after a stain-removal treatment, car carpet recolouring can make all the difference.
You don’t need to reach for an expensive shop-bought stain remover when your car carpets need to be spot-cleaned and refreshed. It only takes minutes to make a cost-effective homemade car carpet stain remover for spotlessly clean results. Vinegar, dish soap and baking soda are your go-to ingredients. The trick is not to overload the stained area with too much soapy solution or baking soda. Otherwise you’ll end up with saturated carpets that can take a while to dry. Also, if possible, it helps to treat the stain as soon as possible. Leaving it to dry and harden can make harder work of cleaning carpets.
If time is against you and you could do with some help when it comes to cleaning your car, we’re here to help. Why not schedule an appointment with DetailXPerts to have your car professionally detailed. Our proven steam cleaning techniques guarantee a superior clean, including removing any stains from your car carpets. Our steam cleaning technology also eliminates stains and odors without having to use any chemicals.
Also, be sure to connect with DetailXPerts on Facebook where we’ll keep you posted about other car care tips, auto news, monthly specials and more.