Learning how to steam clean car seats has multiple benefits, such as sanitization to create a healthier driving environment, odor-removal, and cost savings from not having to pay someone else to do your car interior detailing. Equally important, steam cleaning is eco-friendly. This green process efficiently removes the dust, dirt, and harmful bacteria without using harsh chemicals or a lot of water.
Our experienced technicians have a routine when it comes to the best way to detail a car interior. And they’re happy to share their tips on how to steam clean car seats like a pro.
If you would like to find out more about our deep-cleaning steam technology, download our Eco Wash Benefit Guide:
How to Steam Clean Car Seats – Steps and Procedures
Your car collects dirt and debris along the way. And the problem only gets worse if your regular passengers are children or pets. But these steps on how to steam clean car seats will ensure you achieve clean, sanitized results.
1. Gather the Essentials
- Steam cleaner for cars
- Vacuum cleaner, preferably with a range of attachments
- A range of car wash brush types to dislodge dirt from seat crevices
- Upholstery shampoo
- Pre-conditioner or soil emulsifier and cleaner (optional – for extra dirty upholstery)
- Fan or blow dryer (optional)
Tip: You may already have most of these essentials in your car interior detailing kit. However, if you don’t already have the more expensive items such as a steam cleaner, research online where to rent this equipment.
2. Wear Safety Gloves
Never attempt to steam clean car seats without wearing heat-resistant safety gloves to protect your hands from scalding. Choose a pair that fits your hands snugly yet does not hamper your movements.
3. Open All Car Doors
Opening all car doors allows air to flow freely through your vehicle. Otherwise, you’ll trap the steam inside, making it uncomfortable for you while you work.
4. Brushing and Vacuuming
Dust and debris collect on the seats, particularly if you use your car often. So, always brush and vacuum the seats before steam cleaning.
- Start by loosening these contaminants with your car upholstery brush. It will enable you to access folds and crevices without damaging the fabric or material.
- Then remove the debris with a vacuum cleaner. The best car vacuum is one that has attachments that enable you to access all areas.
For more tips on preparing your car for steam cleaning, see our tips on how to detail a car interior.
5. Pre-Condition and Shampoo
Pre-conditioning is only necessary if your car seats are excessively dirty. Here some tips:
- For best results, choose a pre-conditioner recommended for your type of car seats. For example, leather, vinyl, or fabric. Follow the directions on the label to ensure the best results.
- This is also the time to remove stains on car seat like coffee. If you follow the instructions for how to remove stains from car seats, you will find the task quite easy. However, be mindful of the upholstery material. For instance, knowing how to get stains out of leather car seats requires more care.
- After pre-conditioning, shampoo the car seats to give them a fresh appearance. See our tips on how to deep clean car seats.
6. Steam Clean Car Seats
Use the upholstery attachment of your steam cleaner to remove any water and dirt from your car seats. Keep in mind the correct method of how to use steam cleaner for cars. For example:
- Fill the steam cleaner’s water reservoir.
- Adjust the steam cleaner settings according to the type of fabric or surface you’re cleaning.
- For dirtier seats, spray with an upholstery cleaner. For example, DetailXPerts uses EPA-certified products that are much safer for the environment.
- Move the nozzle slowly across the seat, applying steam evenly across the surface.
- Avoid keeping the steam cleaner in one spot for too long, as this can over-saturate the fabric.
- Afterwards, immediately wipe the surfaces with a clean microfiber car cloth for car interior. This step will help remove the loosened dirt, stains, and excess moisture.
Here is a video summarizing this step, how to steam clean car seats:.
7. Sanitizing the Seats
In addition to the dirt and debris that collects on car seats there will also be a build-up of bacteria and other germs. Naturally, you will want your seats to provide a healthy area for you and your passengers. Therefore, you may wish to consider how to disinfect car interior, including the seats.
Some disinfectants can leave your vehicle with an unpleasant odor. However, if you steam clean car seats you avoid this problem. The high temperature of the steam kills bacteria and other pathogens leaving your car seats perfectly sanitized and odor free.
8. Dry Seats
The beauty of steam cleaning is that it uses a small volume of water to steam clean car interior. Unlike shampooing and washing, the car seats do not become wet, merely damp. Nevertheless, you will still need to factor in drying time.
You can use your fan to speed up the drying process. If you don’t have one available, a blow dryer will work just as well. If you have more time on your hands, then you can always leave the seats to fully air dry. This will, of course, take longer. The car doors need to remain open for the entire drying process to allow air to circulate and the water vapor to escape.
If your car seats are not completely dry, they will be uncomfortable for you and your passengers. Additionally, the dampness can lead to mold and mildew leaving an unpleasant odor inside the vehicle. If this happens you will need to investigate how to get bad smell out of car.
9. Brush When Dry
Depending on the type of upholstery that you have, you can also use a dry brush for the car seats. Detailers generally use this technique on cloth-based car upholstery as leather seats have a different finish and appearance.
By gently brushing the cloth upholstery in different directions, you will give your car seats a smooth and brand-new look. However, you don’t need to spend a lot of time on this, just give each area of the seat a quick gentle brush to raise the pile.
10. Regular Maintenance
Finally, periodically steam cleaning your car seats will maintain their cleanliness and hygiene. Moreover, regular steam cleaning can help prolong the life of your car seats by preventing the build-up of dirt that can spoil the appearance and lead to premature wear and tear.
To sum up, once you know how to steam clean car seats, the process becomes quicker and easier with practice. This DIY task is useful to carry out between your professional car interior detailing appointments. Furthermore, it is a greener way to clean because you’re not using a lot of water or relying on strong disinfectants to sanitize your vehicle.
While steam cleaning car seats has numerous benefits, it’s important to use the appropriate equipment and techniques to guarantee the best results.
If you struggle to find the time to do this yourself, contact a car interior detailing service. DetailXPerts specialize in upholstery cleaning using steam to get deep into the fibers of your car seats.
To find out how we clean without wasting water, download our Eco Wash Benefit Guide: