10 Tips on how to clean car seats with baking soda and home items

If you're struggling to remove stubborn stains from your car interior, in particular cloth seats then you are certainly in the right place to get the best results. 

And best of all we will tell you how to use just simple, cheap household cleaning products that will have the interior of your car looking in showroom condition!

So, let's get started on the most effective ways of removing those tough stains, difficult stains, or indeed any stain on the inside of your car!

Items you will require to clean car seats with baking soda

Spray Bottle

It is essential to provide a light coating for these methods to work and not damage other unaffected areas. The best way to do this is to use a spray bottle.

Damp Microfiber Cloth

Microfiber cloths are essential tools for any car detailing job. Interior or exterior detailing will require the best microfiber cloths to get the best results. Arm yourself with a pack of good-quality microfiber cloths and you will see what we mean!

Water/mixing small bowl

This will be needed to mix up the cleaning products. You should also have a cup of warm water at hand

Scrub Brush

A stiff scrub brush will be required for sure to handle the nasty stains such as ink stains or grease stains. If a scrub brush is unavailable then an old toothbrush will suffice.

Scrub Brush With Baking Soda to Clean Car Seats

The Baking Soda Car Seat Cleaning Method

Once you have gathered together you items then it is simple to mix up the baking soda solution to be used to clean fabric car seats

Add one cup of warm water to your mixing bowl. Next add ¼ cup of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate (as it is often called) to the water in the mixing bowl and thoroughly mix. Pour the mixture into your spray bottle and liberally coat the stained area. 

A liberal coating of baking soda on a car seat

Once applied, take your scrub brush or old toothbrush and scrub the area. Finally brush off the dried paste and inspect. 

If the soiled area proves difficult to remove then apply the mixture slightly heavier and allow it to sit on the surface for up to thirty minutes. This will allow more time for the mixture to work

Vinegar and Dish Soap Car Seat Cleaner

This is another potent stain remover made from household products. To make the vinegar mixture simply mix one part vinegar with ten parts warm water, then add a few drops of dish soap.

Apply this vinegar solution using your spray bottle and wipe off with a damp cloth for best results. Try to use white vinegar as this is more acidic and often proves the best way to remove ink and food stains.

NB: Before starting any car seat deep cleaning, always use a vacuum cleaner to remove all debris and dust from the seats. This is essential as no matter what upholstery cleaner you use if there is loose dirt on the seats it will only create more stains.

Upholstery Cleaner can work wonders!

Normal household carpet and upholstery cleaner can work well on any less engrained stains of your car seat fabric. Just a light layer of the solution applied with you spray bottle and rubbed in with a clean rag will usually suffice to remove minor stains and water marks.

If this does work then next step would to apply some of the cleaner to a damp sponge, rub it well in before drying off with a soft cloth.

Toothpaste To Clean Car Seats?

Good ole toothpaste can prove a best product when working on small area stains. With its mildly abrasive properties gel toothpaste can save a lot of time when concentrating on a micro affected area.

Simply apply a blob of toothpaste to you old toothbrush and gently brush it into the area. Allow to remain in surface then wipe off with a clean rag or a damp towel.

Club Soda Can Sparkle Seats!

Club soda is far more than just a drink it can be used in many car detailing situations such as removing bird poop from you car and indeed cleaning soiled car seats!

Simply add club soda to your spray bottle. Spray liberally onto the stained area then use a scrub brush to remove the stubborn stains.

The extra minerals in club soda prove very effective in breaking down dirt and grime on both metallic and fabric car components.

Cleaning Leather Or Vinyl Car Seats

Vinyl car seats are more difficult to stain but never the less there is often a need to clean them. This is also the case with car leather seats.

Here the stained area is best treated with alcohol or nail polish remover.

This is best tested on a small test area to ensure it works before tackling the main stain. Just dip a cotton bud into the liquid alcohol and apply gently before rubbing it off the vinyl seats. Then clean the area with warm or cold water, making sure it is clean water 

Lemon Juice Fresh Car Seats

It's hard to beat the smell of lemon juice to get the senses to register freshness. Therefore, using a solution containing lemon juice can be the best cleaning solution to use to clean cloth car seats.

As mentioned earlier with the baking soda solution using a spray bottle to apply the mixture then use a scrub brush to work it into the stained area.

To make the cleaning mixture take one cup of vinegar and add three or four tablespoons of baking soda. Then add a real good squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of liquid dish soap. Shake the spray bottle well to ensure an even mixture before applying to the car seats.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide is a powerful cleaning agent but can also bleach white car seat fabric, therefore care must be used when cleaning with this product.

It should only be used in a diluted form. Ideally 1 part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water. So, one cup of water added to half a cup of hydrogen peroxide is the ideal mixture. Add this to your spray bottle and coat the surface.

NB: It is best to try this on a small insignificant area first to ensure it works ok and does not “bleach” the car seat covers

Once applied, work it in with a scrub brush and allow it to sit on the surface for ten to fifteen minutes. Clean off with a good microfiber cloth.

This mixture is very good at breaking down food and drink stains.

Pet Hair Removal

If pet hair is proving a problem on your car interior then it is essential that you know the correct cleaning process to remove it.

The first step is to give the seats a really good vacuum cleaner to remove all but the most stubborn pet hair deposits. This will generally remove 80% of the hair and give you a much better chance to see the areas needing further attention.

Next it is best to use water but not too much water to really dampen the surface of the seats. Excess water will only delay the amount of time the seats will take to dry out before they can be sat on again.

Next take a damp cloth and or a squeegee and draw it firmly over all of the seating areas to pull out all the engrained pet hair which will now easily come out with the surface being wet.

If you need to use the car soon after before the seats have properly dried out then you can use a hair dryer to speed up the process.

Steam It Clean!

If you have seats that are really heavily soiled and the above mentioned methods are not working then a steam cleaner may be the only solution.

You can do this yourself or pay a professional detailer to do it for you. 

if you choose to do it yourself then you will need to purchase or hire a steam cleaner. They can be hired from your local stores such as Walmart or purchased online. It can often be worth purchasing one if you are a keen detailer as they can also be used for exterior detailing jobs. 

Here are some examples of suitable steam cleaners.

Steam Cleaner For Car Seats

GFYWZZ Multi-Purpose Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner

A really neat, compact steam cleaner that is ideal for use on car seats. It provides pressurised hot steam for 15-20 minutes, which is ideal to complete a pair of seats if not the whole seating area of a normal size car.

Handheld Steam Cleaner

This very neat steam cleaner has a continuous steam supply with limitless use time which makes it ideal for larger cars with heavier soiled seats.

Whilst you are doing the seats you can easily do the same job on the floor mats which are very suitable to the steam cleaning process and you can maximise the use of the cleaner if you are hiring it.

NB: Please note care must be taken when using a high pressure cleaner, especially around electrical components. 

Steam Clean Car Seats Routine


  1. Vacum clean both front and back seat to remove all debris
  2. Inspect for any heavily soiled areas
  3. Try to remove these with a damp cloth and some upholstery cleaner or laundry detergent
  4. Wipe these areas when done with a dry cloth or clean towel
  5. Start steaming the seats from the top down. This is best to prevent you kneeling on wet car upholstery
  6. Steam in straight lines either horizontally or vertically
  7. If any areas prove difficult then use a soft brush and laundry detergent again to clean upholstery
  8. Finally rub a microfiber cloth over the seats to remove excess moisture.


Cleaning car seats can be an arduous task, especially on larger vehicles. But the rewards can be enormous, not just in feeling better in the car whilst driving it but you can really add value to your car by cleaning the interior thoroughly.

This will also increase the chances of selling it if that is your plan.

Once cleaned it can be a good idea to have some materials such as paper towels or baby wipes in the car to immediately clean up any further spills or soling. This will prevent the stains becoming further engrained by drying on the surface.

Keeping on top of car interior cleaning really is the answer and a weekly quick clean can really stop and build up that could result in more serious staining. Even your steering wheel can need frequent cleaning!

As you now know it doesn't take a gallon of hot water and lots of fancy items to achieve a great result. Just a small amount mixed up in a small bowl and applied with a spray bottle is all that is needed to remove the majority of stains.

We hope you have enjoyed our post and welcome any question in the comments below. Also if you know of any methods that we haven't mentioned that work for you then please let us know.

And keep checking back as we often add more ideas as we discover them!