How To Clean Vinyl Car Seats Easily And Professionally

Chloe Murphy 4 minutes Published: 29/04/2021

Much like leather interiors, vinyl seats can easily become cracked or brittle if they aren’t cared for properly. Regular cleaning will help your vinyl interior look and feel its best, plus you’ll avoid any permanent discolouration by catching stains sooner rather than later.

If selling your car in the future is a likely possibility, you’ll also get a far higher resale value with well looked after furnishings. Whether your vinyl interior is old or new, we’re here to guide you on what (and what not) to do. 

If you want all the details on how to clean car seats with other interiors, take a look at our posts on how to clean leather car seats and how to clean cloth car seats

What is the best way to clean vinyl car seats?

Just like with any other interior, vacuuming your seats beforehand will help quicken your cleaning process by removing any loose surface dirt. 

Missing out on this quick step can mean you risk rubbing debris into your material, and potentially make the situation worse. Just be careful to vacuum lightly to avoid scratching the material.

Once you’ve vacuumed, you can move on to cleaning with either a shop bought or homemade cleaning solution. If your stains are on the lighter side, a homemade mix will likely do just as good a job as some of the more expensive products available. Just mix some warm water with a cap of laundry detergent, and pour into a spray bottle to use on larger areas. 

For most vinyl seats you should be able to use a cloth to clean off any dirt, but if your seats are particularly grimy, you’ll want to find an interior brush. Just follow our quick steps:

  1. Start off with a softer bristle brush, and test your brush and solution in an inconspicuous area to check how the material reacts. This can also prevent any rips or tears from using a brush that’s too rough. 
  2. Spray your solution working in sections, covering the initial areas you’re going to work on and gently work your brush over the seats. Use more pressure or a slightly stiffer brush (not too hard-going or it’ll damage the vinyl) for tougher stains.
  3. Once you’re done, wipe over the vinyl with a damp cloth to clean off any remaining product. 
  4. Finally, use a dry cloth to dry off the material and remove any lingering dirt or grease. 

How do you get stains out of vinyl car seats?

Don’t fret if you’ve got marks on your vinyl that just won’t budge. There are plenty of items just sitting in your cupboard waiting to tackle those tough marks.

One of the most popular methods is using a baking soda paste. You can create this by mixing a small amount of baking soda with a few drops of water and a dash of washing up liquid. Apply a thick layer of the paste, leave for a couple of minutes, then gently scrub off with a brush.

For more serious marks you may want to consider using pre-formulated products. Though not specifically a vinyl cleaner, Simple Green is popular for those with vinyl interiors due to its impressive cleaning powers. You can use the formula diluted or directly on the material if stains are more stubborn. 

Mothers VinylLeatherRubber Care is another great alternative, scoring a 4.7 star rating on Amazon. It easily cleans and conditions, and you can use it on vinyl, leather and rubber to remove even the most worked in soil and stains.

How do you clean old vinyl car seats?

For older vinyl car seats that need some extra TLC, you can use a bleach mixture to try revive your once prized interior. Just dilute bleach with water on a 1:1 ratio, applying the solution with a cloth or brush. 

However, you should bear in mind that using anything containing bleach does come with its risks. If you’re able to, it's best to try the solution on the underside of your seats first to test whether the colour or material reacts badly. 

If you have particularly discoloured vinyl, another option is to use an ammonia solution. Just mix up:

  • One tablespoon of ammonia
  • ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide
  • ¾ cup of water

Again, apply the solution with a soft brush or cloth, and clean carefully until you see improvement. 

Conclusion

Cleaning your car interior might seem like a time consuming effort, but often you’ll end up saving a tonne of money by doing it yourself. You’ll even get the satisfaction of seeing your car seats go from looking drab to factory-fresh. 

For more tips on keeping your car looking and driving its best, check out our post on how to wash a car, or take a look at our easy car maintenance checklist.