Interior Care

How to Clean Black Cloth Car Seats? – An Ultimate Guide

Written by Howell Crist / Fact checked by Sam Howard

how to clean black cloth car seats

No matter how careful you are, your car seats are still prone to dirt and stains, especially if you are often driving or have kids/pets. However, a professional cleaning service can be pretty expensive. So, learning how to clean car seats fabric yourself is essential.

How to clean black cloth car seats? First, vacuum your seats. Once done, apply your preferred cleaner, such as a commercial/professional cleaner or a homemade solution. The next thing you need to do is scrub all the dirt away. Let it dry, and viola! Your black fabric seat is looking sleek once again!

Step-by-Step Guide

The black interior of cars makes dirt more unnoticeable than any other light colors, making it practical and aesthetically pleasing. However, grime and stains can still accumulate on car seats over time, causing deterioration and adding cost to your expenses.

Cleaning black cloth car seats is straightforward. However, it requires effort and patience to achieve your desired results. Here is a detailed guide on cleaning cloth seats in cars.

What to prepare:

  • A vacuum cleaner
  • An old toothbrush
  • Commercial Upholstery Cleaner
  • A brush with soft bristles
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Water
  • Dishwashing soap/Laundry Detergent
  • Spray Bottle
  • Sponge
  • Bucket or Container
  • Vinegar, Baking Soda
  • Fabric Protector (Optional)
  • A fan (for drying)

Step 1: Vacuum the Car Seats


Vacuums can quickly remove surface dirt, such as food crumbs, dust, or hair trapped in your seats, before doing a deep cleaning. This step prevents dirt from seeping into the cushion underneath the cloth.

Some vacuum cleaners come with a brush attachment. Using this brush, clean every nook and cranny of your car seats.

If your vacuum doesn’t have a brush attachment, you can use a toothbrush to sweep the dirt on hard-to-reach areas.

Or, without vacuums, you can also use a brush or toothbrush to soften the surface grime. However, the results and the time you will spend cleaning the car seats will differ.

Step 2: Use a Pretreatment Solution

Pretreatment is an important step in cleaning fabric car seats with stubborn stains.

  • To achieve spotless cloth car seats, you can use a commercial upholstery cleaner that focuses on removing tough stains.
  • If you prefer a pretreatment solution you can easily find at home, you can use a DIY solution by mixing vinegar and baking soda to create a paste.

Apply either solution onto the car seats. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, and blot the surface using a microfiber cloth.

For harsh stains, use the brush to scrub them a little, yet avoid using too much force.

Step 3: Apply Cleaning Solution


Next, bring out the cleaner of your choice.

  • Choose a safe upholstery cleaner you purchase, the type used for cloth car seats, formulated with little bleach to prevent discoloration.

A popular choice for a reliable product to shampoo car seats includes Meguiar’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner or Chemical Guys Super Cleaner, you are free to use it. Just follow the instructions on its label carefully.

  • For a homemade cleaner, you can combine a quarter cup of baking soda and a cup of warm water.
  • You can also clean cloth car seats with vinegar. Just mix a tablespoon of dishwashing soap with two parts of water and one part of vinegar.
  • Another DIY solution that can help remove car seat stains is cleaning with laundry detergent. Using a laundry detergent is safe and effective when dealing with fabric seats.

You can use a sponge to dab the solution onto the seats. Apply from the top, then work your way down. Let’s avoid soaking the fabric wet.

Step 4: Scrub and Wipe the Seats


Once you apply your desired cleaner, you can start scrubbing your seats. You can use a soft-bristled brush or microfiber cloth to blot the stains.

Ensure that you wash every part of the seat. Soak the brush or cloth in a bucket of clean water now and then to prevent dirt from returning.

In addition, keep in mind that you don’t need to scrub your seats forcefully, as it will only damage the material. Apply sufficient pressure only while cleaning.

If dealing with stubborn stains, let your cleaning solution sit for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing again.

Step 5 : Remove all the cleaner

Then, ensure to wipe off the excess solution. You can use a microfiber cloth or any absorbent towel to remove moisture from the cloth car seat without leaving water stains.

Step 6: Let the Car Seats Dry


To clean black fabric car seats successfully, you must remember that it is essential to let your car air dry before you start using it. Open all car doors and wait until the seats are dry.

If you remove the car seats before cleaning them, you can place them under direct sunlight. Let them dry completely before placing them back in your car.

Otherwise, use a fan and aim it toward your car seats to speed up the drying process. You can also park your car where there is sunlight.

Drying the car seats completely will ensure that there are no unpleasant odors. On top of that, bacteria brought by excess moisture will not build up quickly.

Step 7: Coat Seats with Fabric Protector (Optional)

Although this step is optional, this is highly recommended. Putting a protective coat onto your car seats keeps the material from wear and tear.

Moreover, a fabric protector allows the material to remain clean for a long time. It acts as a barrier against unexpected spills or unwanted dirt.

While some fabric protectors have refreshing scents, others have a strong odor that is quite uncomfortable for some. If this is the case, remember to leave your car doors open until the smell disappears.

Tips for Cleaning Each Type of Stain


1. Oil or Grease Stains

Oil stains are common to car owners who eat greasy foods inside the car. Women are also prone to this issue because of cosmetics like lipstick.

So, if you are dealing with grease stains, you can use an equal part mixture of paint thinner and water. Try on an inconspicuous area first before applying on a larger area.

2. Coffee Stains

Coffee stains are difficult to remove from cloth car seats, especially when you clean grey cloth car seats and when left for an extended period. Thus, clean the stain with a paper towel, dab it in cold water immediately, and let it dry.

If stains are still left, a glass cleaner can do the trick. Spray a small amount onto the affected area, let it rest for at least 5 minutes, and wipe any excess using a paper towel.

Use a hairdryer to see the best results.

3. Ink Stains

Ink stains on car seats are pretty tricky to clean. You will need a mixture of dish soap, vinegar, and warm water to get stains out of black car seats.

Using a cloth, blot the stains and let the solution sit for at least 10 minutes. After that, scrub the area until stains are removed. Follow up with cold water using a clean cloth.

4. Bloodstains

You can use hydrogen peroxide to clean car seats when dealing with bloodstains. Dilute one part of hydrogen peroxide with two parts of water.

Try on a hidden spot first to see if the solution bleaches the material. If there is no adverse effect, spray the solution onto the affected area. Otherwise, add more water to weaken the bleaching effect of the hydrogen peroxide.

Once you apply the solution, dab the stain with a cloth and continuously apply pressure until the stain is removed.



What is the best way to clean cloth car seats?

The best way to clean cloth car seats depends on what stain you’re dealing with. Generally, commercial cleaners or DIY solutions like vinegar mixture can clean fabric car seats stains.

As long as you use the right cleaner meant to remove a specific stain and follow the procedures above, you can achieve a desirable result.

What do detailers clean cloth seats with?

Detailers use professional cleaning solutions to ensure the best results. They also use vacuums, brushes, soap, water, steam cleaners, and deodorants.


Learning how to clean black cloth car seats is the best way to maintain your car interior’s freshness. Although it may seem challenging at first, the cleaning process is simple.

All you need is to prepare the correct tools and follow the steps above, from vacuuming to sealing your car seats with protectant. You can even use the procedures above when cleaning truck seats!

Hopefully, this detailed guide comes in handy when dealing with black fabric seats.

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Our chief editor is Sam Howard. The vast market of car care necessitates extensive research. He entered the market, experienced the service, and reported customer feedback in order to provide the best advice and content to car owners. We have faith in him to turn our website into a reliable resource for all car owners.

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