5 Easy Steps To Clean Your Car’s Carpets

A step-by-step on which products to use to clean your carpets and how to get out any stain in your upholstery.

Have you ever lifted the mats in your car to discover tons of stains? Do you have a lighter carpet and it shows all the dirt and grime? This can be frustrating if you don’t know what products to use, which are safe for your upholstery, or how to use them.

By Maurice Rodriguez
December 12, 2021

We can help you pick out the right cleaner for you, the stuff you will need to get started, and a step-by-step walkthrough on where to start. You will need a good car carpet cleaner to lift all the stains. Chemical guys as always have a product specifically designed to get you started. Chemical Guys sell a carpet and upholstery kit that includes their specially formulated citrus fabric cleaner, a spray bottle to dilute the concentrated cleaner, and a carpet brush drill attachment that makes scrubbing a breeze.

We will cover a budget cleaner from Turtle Wax that can help get going on the cheap. Also, Simple Green is a natural car carpet cleaner that is a non-toxic alternative that can make cleaning those carpets a snap.

If you have stubborn stains we will recommend a product from Chemical specially designed for difficult areas, a steam cleaner for a thorough cleaning, and a handy portable vacuum that makes the initial clean-up easy.

Best Overall Car Carpet Cleaner:

Chemical Guys Easy-to-Use Drill Brush Carpet & Upholstery Fabric Cleaning Kit

Chemical Guys Car Carpet Cleaning Kit is the perfect combination of cleaner, dilution spray bottle, and brush attachment to get you started on cleaning all your car’s upholstery, mats, carpets, and seats to remove just about any stain. It has a very nice citrus scent that makes your car smell clean as well. The brush attachment worked well in agitating the stains and lifting the dirt and grime to the surface.


  • Penetrates deep to remove dirt and stains
  • Pleasant citrus smell
  • Includes spray bottle to dilute the concentrated formula
  • Included drill brush attachment


  • None we could find

Best Budget Cleaner

Turtle Wax 50731 Ultimate Carpet Stain & Odor Eliminator Kit

Turtle Wax’s Ultimate Carpet Stain and Odor elimination kit is a great starter kit if you are on a budget. It’s a great value because it includes the cleaner, a brush on the spray bottle, a microfiber towel to soak up the dirt, and an odor eliminator spray.


  • Works well on small jobs
  • Cleaner and brush work well
  • Microfiber cloth blots dirt well


  • Leaves a chemical smell
  • Not meant for heavy-duty or large areas

Best Stain Extractor:

Chemical Guys Lightning Fast Carpet and Upholstery Stain Extractor

Chemical Guys Lightning Fast Carpet and Upholstery Stain Extractor works great if you have a lot of stubborn stains that have set into your car’s upholstery. It comes in a highly concentrated formula that can be diluted in a spray bottle (not included). The stain extractor works well on all upholsteries, carpets, and even sofas and sneakers. If you don’t have a brush dedicated to scrubbing you can purchase the stain extractor and brush as a set as well.


  • Highly concentrated stain lifting formula
  • Can be diluted for routine upholstery cleaning
  • Safe on carpet
  • Doesn’t fade fabrics
  • Can be bought with a brush for an additional cost


  • None we could find

Best Natural Car Carpet Cleaner:

Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner

Simple Green is a safe, non-toxic, biodegradable multi-purpose cleaner that also comes in a super-concentrated formula. Simple Green is our favorite cleaner because its versatility in cleaning just about anything. So, it’s no surprise to use that it is a great car carpet cleaner. If you are going to use Simple Green on your upholstery, I dilute the cleaner to a 30 to 1 water to cleaner to start. This is per Simple Greens Dilution Guide.


  • Biodegradable
  • Non-Toxic
  • Versatile – can clean Wheels, Tires, and Engine


  • Cannot be used on leather or suede

Best Car Carpet Brush

Chemical Guys Heavy Duty Nifty Interior Carpet Detailing Brush

This heavy-duty, injection-molded plastic handle, synthetic bristle brush will help you scrub dirty carpets and upholstery and agitate the dirt and the grime right out.


  • Injecting molded plastic handle
  • Tough synthetic stiff bristles
  • Chemical resistant brush


  • None we could find

Best Brush Kit Set:

Holikme 20Piece Drill Brush Attachments Set

This 20 piece drill brush attachment set is great for cleaning, scrubbing, and scouring anything in your car or kitchen. We find the brushes very useful in cleaning wheels, carpets, upholstery, and engine bays. The assortment comes with a brush for just about any application you might need. The extension is great for those hard-to-reach places in the engine bay.


  • 20-piece set
  • 6 brushes
  • Different stiffness brushes
  • Extension rod to reach tight spots


  • None we could find

Best Car Carpet Cleaner Machine:

Bissell SpotClean ProHeat Portable Spot and Stain Carpet Cleaner

The Bissell Spot Clean portable carpet cleaner works very well at extracting and lifting dirt that’s embedded in your carpet and upholstery. It weighs 9 lbs. so it’s not exactly light but portable enough to be convenient when you’re working in small, tight areas. The device comes with a water heater that keeps the water hot enough to help clean stains faster. It includes a small amount of cleaner as well to get you started.


  • Water tank heater keeps water hot
  • Brushes and attachments work well
  • Includes a Deep Stain Tool


  • None we could find

Best Car Carpet Steam Cleaner

AutoRight SteamMachine Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner

The Auto Right Steam Machine Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner comes in very handy to lift dirt, cut through tough grime, and disinfect plastic, rubber, or engine bays. It makes cleaning much easier if you’ve never used one it only uses water to clean so it won’t damage carpets or upholstery. We loved using this little unit as it’s very portable, and includes all the brushes, nozzles, and other attachments you will need to tackle any job.


  • Versatile Steam Machine – clean carpets, upholstery, plastic, rubber, and engine bays
  • Portable
  • 11 Accessories – brushes, nozzles, and upholstery pads
  • Long flexible hose
  • Uses water to clean, making cleaning gently on carpets


  • Be careful if you’ve never used a steam cleaner as the steam is extremely hot
  • Takes a bit to heat up

Best Car Carpet Cleaner Vacuum:

THISWORX Car Vacuum Cleaner

If you’ve never had the pleasure of using this little powerful portable vacuum then you are missing out. This Worx Car Vacuum Cleaner includes all the attachments you need (flathead, extension tube, and brush head) to reach all the cracks, crevices, and carpet. The upholstery does a great job of picking up dog hair and lifting dirt that’s worked its way deep into your carpet.


  • 3 Attachments – Flathead, Extension Tube, and Brush
  • Easy to get to cracks and crevices
  • Includes Storage Bag 1
  • 16ft cord that plugs into 12v outlet


  • None we could find

Best Car Shop Vac

Shop-Vac Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum

The 5 gallon Shop-Vac with the stainless steel tank is our favorite Shop-Vac here at our house. It has plenty of power for any job and all the accessories and attachments to get into crevices, a gulper nozzle for big jobs, a 7 ft. hose, and three extension wands that come in very handy. We’ve had ours for at least 7 years and have never had a problem. You can also attach the hose to the exhaust port and blow some air around it you want to blow something out. It’s no leaf blower but works well for small areas.

Also, the 5-gallon tank can hold quite a bit of fluid in case you have a mess to clean up. If used this vacuum to clean out dirty gutters and had no issues. Very handy.


  • 5-gallon Stainless Steel Canister
  • 7ft. hose
  • 3 extension wands
  • 3 attachments – crevice tool, gulper, and floor nozzle
  • Comes with a filter and bags


  • None we could find
We ready the carpet of the car, and mat for cleaning.

How to clean the carpet of your car?

Items you will need:

  • Car Carpet Cleaner– Pro level, Budget, or Natural Cleaners will all work well depending on your needs.
Best Overall CleanerBest Budget CleanerBest Heavy Duty CleanerBest Natural Cleaner
  • Vacuum – Shop-Vac, home vacuum, or portable vacuum
Shop-VacPortable Vacuum
  • Brush – A hand brush or a brush on a drill will make for better results
Best Car Carpet BrushBest Brush Kit Set
  • Microfiber Cloth
Best Budget Microfiber ClothBest Pro Level Microfiber Cloth
  • Steam Cleaner – for Heavy-duty cleaning when stains have soaked in over time
Best Budget Car Carpet Steam CleanerBest Car Carpet Cleaner

Step 1. Clean. Remove any garbage or large items in the area you will be cleaning. Remove mats and clean them in a dry area to make it easier to scrub them.

Step 2. Vacuum. Use a shop vac, home vacuum, or get a portable vacuum like the one recommended in this article.

Step 3. Spray. Apply the cleaner liberally first to any heavily stained areas and let the cleaner soak for at least 10 minutes.

We clean the car seats extracting dirt.

Step 4. Scrub. Using a hand brush or brush set like the one recommended above scrub the area vigorously while applying more cleaner as needed to remove any stains.

Step 5. Soak.  Using a Microfiber cloth soak up any excess dirty cleaner by dabbing the carpet gently. Until the area is clean.

Steam cleaning the headliner.

Optional Step for Heavy Duty areas: Use a steam cleaner like the Bissell steam cleaner listed above to clean stains that have soaked in over time. No judgment here.

Repeat if necessary.


We found that Chemical Guys makes some great cleaning products that save you time, clean better than other products, and make cleaning carpets and upholsteries easy. If you can afford the versatile steam cleaner or the Bissell portable carpet cleaner it makes cleaning after the little ones much easier and made our interior look new again.

We are all things cars.

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