How to Clean Car Seats at Home + Seat Removal

You’ve seen it before. Seats de-attached and drying. And you’ve thought to yourself “I should really do that for my vehicle” as you shamefully eyeballed your dirty seats. Well, the time has come and you’ve decided to engage in the cleaning process yourself. Whether you’re trying to save money and sell your car clean, or you simply enjoy this type of thing, this comprehensive guide covers all end purposes. Although cleaning your vehicle without detaching your seats is quite possible, and even more appropriate in some circumstances, there’s no denying that a seats-out approach is more effective. So without further ado, here’s how to clean car seats at home.

How to Clean Car Seats at Home’s Most Difficult Step: Removing Your Car Seats

(Sidenote: If what you were looking for is a simple seats-in-the-car clean up guide refer to this blog: How to Clean Your Car Interior)

The first step in the process is removing your front and back seats and unscrewing some tough bolts. This was probably your biggest concern when you googled “how to clean car seats at home.” Although the process might be challenging (especially the first time around) the rest of the process is pretty straightforward.

How to Remove Car Seats (Front Row)

First, start by sliding your front seats as far back as possible so that there is plenty of legroom under the steering wheel. This makes the seat front bolts apparent. Unscrew these four first (two bolts on each front seat). You’ll usually need a socket wrench to do this. After that, push the front seats forward to the maximum and unscrew the four hind bolts on the seats.

In the case that your car seats have never been removed before (either by you or its previous owner), then unscrewing its bolts may be difficult at the start. It may even refuse to budge, in that case driving to a mechanics or filling station where there is equipment may be a good idea. Only have them loosen the stiff bolt lightly so that you can drive back home without the seat swaying and moving.

Once all bolts have been removed, enter through either of the cars front doors and push the unscrewed seats backwards so that they’re detached and leaning on the backseats. You’ll find a wire attached to the seat infrastructure in several places and plugged in on one area. 

What Are the Wires Under the Car Seats For?

Usually, these attachments are for the cars seatbelt display on the dashboard and will trigger one of many functions that include making the car beep to alarm the driver when he/she hasn’t fastened their seatbelt.

You want to remove the latches and unplug the chord so that you can safely remove the seat from the car. Be careful not to scratch your car as you lift the heavy seats away.

How to Remove Car Seats (Back Row)

Usually, you’ll find two latches or levers under the seats on the left and right sides. Pushing these levers upward will disengage them and then you can push the seats up and horizontally pull them to remove them. Sometimes there will be bolts that need to be unscrewed on the left and right facing sides of your backseats. Make sure to check for those as well. The vertical part of the seat is usually left intact in most cleaning operations. Now to the actual cleaning.

How to Clean Fabric Car Seats

When we say fabric, we mean either nylon or polyester. Refer to your users manual to ensure which one you have so that you can purchase the appropriate cleaner.

First, you want to vacuum any debris or dust that lay on your seats. Use a dry toothbrush to dislodge any particles in hard to reach areas and make it easier for the vacuum to do its job. Then, depending on how dirty your seats are either spray plenty of upholstery cleaner all across the part of the seat you intend to clean first, or a little amount for mildly dirty seats. It is recommended you clean in parts and not spray the cleaner on the entirety of the seat as you don’t want the cleaner drying before you scrub it in. This can cause ugly stains.

Work the Cleaner in

After having sprayed the cleaner use a toothbrush or sponge to brush the cleaner in. After that grab a microfiber towel and start to dry up the foam. Then fill up a spray bottle with warm water and spray the area that was cleaned until you feel you adequately wet the top part of the upholstery, but don’t let it become drenched or even anywhere close to that.

Remove the Dirt Hiding Deep Within the Seats

After that, grab a clean vacuum cleaner to suck in the dirt that lay hidden under the seat. Ensure that your vacuum head is clean and don’t rush while sliding it across the cleaned area. You want to ensure that you suck in as much of the dirty mixture as possible. Some vacuum cleaners specially made for cars come equipped with a water spray mechanism that helps in ensuring you don’t overspray. These are ideal but not always available. A powerful vacuum cleaner however will do just fine.
Once you’ve completed this process for the whole seat, you can then clean the seats plastic sides and bottom metal parts the same way you would clean a car’s dashboard or console. You can find those instructions on our blog about how to clean your car interior.

Allow the seats enough time to dry and re-attach them and fasten all the wiring, levers and bolts.

How to Clean Car Leather Seats

More often than not leather seats come coated. A layer of either vinyl or plastic is used to protect the leather and make it more durable. So in actuality with leather seats, you’re cleaning this layer as opposed to actual leather. This will dictate the kind of leather cleaner and conditioner you will be purchasing. Look for either a “leather and vinyl”, “leather and plastic” cleaner and conditioner depending on your seat material. An all-purpose interior car cleaner is also a good bet, just make sure you engage in a spot check before applying it on the entirety of your seats. Stay away from all-purpose cleaners that contain bleach or ammonia components. If you’re unsure of the material on your seats, refer to your users manual.

Should You Remove Your Leather Car Seats to Clean Them?

If you intend to clean just the seats and nothing else, you don’t have to do so. If you feel more comfortable cleaning the seats in a more spacious area, then that’s reason enough to remove them. However, removing your leather car seats is necessary if you want to clean the floor that lay under the seats.

Vacuum Your Leather Seats

Same as with the fabric seats start with vacuuming. And just as well, use a toothbrush for hard to reach areas. Usually, folded areas will still have some grime on them after this. Apply a little leather cleaner and work out what remains with the toothbrush. Dry the folded area with a towel, and run the vacuum cleaner over the area again to finally clean up that area.

Rub the Leather Cleaner in

Spray some of the leather cleaner on a microfibre cloth and start rubbing it into your leather with medium force.

Apply the Leather Conditioner

Grab a sizeable clean — or rather a new paintbrush, and spray the conditioner into that. Be generous with the conditioner as you can seldom use too much. Rub your seat with that and give it a few minutes to settle in on its own. After that grab a fresh microfibre towel and dry off what remains and voila! Shiny seats that not only look, but smell brand new.

Repeat this process with the rest of your seats and you’re good to go. Cleaning your leather seats this way every 6 months will do wonders for the health and longevity of your leather. 

How to Ensure Your Car Seat Bolts Will Stay Firm Once You’ve Screwed Them in

You can apply some medium strength thread locker on the bolts if you have some. This ensures that the bolts don’t move as time passes. Apply a little of the paste on the bolt’s sides before fastening them in.

If you’re going for a full car clean up in preparation for selling your car, click on the following link for a full guide on what to do before you sell your car.

How to Clean Your Car Seats at Home So That You can Sell the Car to Sell Your Motors

Presentation is everything, and it’s a well-known fact that a cleaner vehicle can fetch a higher price. If you googled “how to clean car seats at home” because you’re in the process of selling your car, then consider Sell Your Motors a potential buyer. With many branches spread across the UAE, we are a car buying specialist that prides itself on completing everything from car inspection to finalising the sale and paperwork in only 30 minutes. So even if you want to continue exploring other potential buyers, come and hear our offer, and then continue with your exploration. You literally have nothing to lose.

There’s no vehicle we won’t buy, not even scrap cars. Try our free online car price estimator and get a call from us, or call us directly at 04 330 1030