How To Clean Your Car Mats: Advice For Rubber or Carpet Floor Mats

Chloe Murphy 4 minutes Published: 24/03/2022

If you’ve finally gotten around to cleaning your car, your attention is likely to be on how long you’ve ignored the accumulating muck, and how grubby your seats have suddenly managed to get. 

When you’re focused on how to clean your interior, it’s easy to focus on how to clean car seats and forget about one of the most well worn aspects of your car: the car mats.

They get trod on every time you get in your car, and yet they’re probably at the bottom of your list of things to clean. But continuously tracking in dirt, snow, mud and more can leave lasting wear on your car mats that really reduces the overall appearance of your interior.

If you’re putting in the time and effort to get your seats looking new, it’s worth your while to go that extra mile and clean the mats too. We’ll cover what to do with rubber or carpet mats. 

Are car mats machine washable?

It might seem like an easy fix to just chuck your mats in the washing machine, but unfortunately in the majority of cases, this isn’t going to work out. 

Rubber car mats are not suitable for the washing machine or dryer, and many fabric car mats have a rubber edging or component. The only scenario where you might be able to put your mat in the washer is if it is completely fabric. 

However, even if your mats have no rubber parts, It’s always best to check for a label that indicates the material or whether it’s machine washable. 

Luckily, there’s plenty of alternative ways to wash your mats. 

How do you clean fabric car mats?

Whether your mats are fabric or rubber, the best thing to do is first take them out of your car if you can. You want to avoid soaking your car interior, and you should never get substances on your pedals that could cause them to become slippery.

With fabric car mats, the first thing to do is vacuum them. This will help speed up the cleaning process as you’ll remove any loose dirt, dust or hair. 

If your mats are stained or particularly mucky, you can then wash them in the same way you would with your seats. Add some laundry detergent to a bowl of warm water and clean carefully with a sponge or brush. Allow the mats to dry completely before returning to the car. 

If your mats still have an off smelling odour even after cleaning, baking soda can be a great natural odour remover. Just sprinkle some over your mats, allow to absorb for around 30 minutes, then vacuum again. 

How do you get stains out of car mats?

For stained fabric mats, the best solution is attempting stain removal like you would when cleaning your cloth car seats

For the DIYers, you can easily mix up a homemade solution with some baking soda, a few drops of water and some laundry detergent. Just apply the paste to the stain, then carefully scrub with a soft brush or sponge until the stain lifts. Rinse and allow to dry as normal. 

Alternatively, you can use a shop-bought carpet cleaner like Vanish Carpet Cleaner + Upholstery Shampoo. Just spray over your stain, work in the foam, leave for 2 hours, and then vacuum. 

How do you clean rubber car mats yourself?

With rubber mats, it’s a much faster and easier process if you can remove them from your car. If you’ve got a hose or pressure washer handy, you’ll be able to quickly clean off the majority of dirt or mud that’s collected on your mats. Just be careful not to use too much pressure. You’ll risk ruining the rubber, particularly if your mats aren’t really high quality.

In lieu of a hose or pressure washer, a bucket of soapy water and a sponge or brush will suffice. Clean thoroughly till you’ve removed any dirt, then rinse to remove any soapy residue. If you’re using a brush, be careful not to overdo it with the scrubbing. Hard-bristled brushes can scratch and even wear away the rubber, so soft-bristles and gentle pressure are your go to. Be sure to dry off with an old towel before placing them back in your car. 

For rubber mats, it can also be handy to carry wipes in your glove compartment to quickly clean up any spills. 

What is the best cleaner for rubber car mats?

For the most part, good old soap and water (and a hose if you’ve got it) will clean your rubber car mat pretty thoroughly. 

But if you’re looking for that extra shiny ‘new car’ look, you do get cleaners specifically for rubber mats. Chemical Guys’ Mat Renew Cleaner & Protectant is one of the most popular, and is often on sale for around £8. The product claims to quickly clean and restore your mats back to their original condition, cleaning and conditioning your mats without any leftover slippery feel.

Conclusion

Whether you’re selling your car on or just want to spruce it up, when you’re going for that ‘new car’ look, the  little details can make all the difference. 

If you haven’t already, be sure to add your car mats onto the cleaning section of your car maintenance checklist (and download a car maintenance app and set yourself a reminder!).