Removing Stains From Car Seats

by Krista Simpson

Spills happen! However, just because you dropped something in your vehicle does not mean that the seats cannot look good again. We contacted Reena Nerbas, author of the Household Solutions series of books on cleaning, for some tips on how to deal with dirty car seats. Nerbas specializes in natural and non-toxic cleaning tricks. This is what she told us:

What techniques should people use to take stains out of car seats?

Begin with a solution of one quarter teaspoon clear dish soap and one cup of water. Blot (don’t rub) stains. Many stains will come out with this simple technique. Dish soap will not set stains like some products on the market. Always test any product on an inconspicuous area before applying it to the stain.

Any “dos” and “don’ts” for removing stains from car seats?

Don’t rub stains, doing so will push stains further into the textile.

Never use bleach on interior.

Never use products containing pumice on car exterior (doing so will damage car paint).

What can be used to take out the following stains:

  • Coffee: Lemon juice sprinkled with cream of tartar. Leave for 1 hour and rinse with water.
  • Pop or other sticky drinks: Pour on vinegar and baking soda. Rinse with water.
  • Ketchup or other sticky foods: Glycerine found in pharmacies. Leave for a few hours and rinse with water.
  • Blood: Head and Shoulders dandruff shampoo.
  • Mud and dirt: Dish soap and water or non-bleach, non-gel toothpaste. Leave for a few minutes and rinse with water.

Are there any products/solutions people can keep in their car to quickly deal with (or at least pre-treat!) stains?

Tackle stains as soon as possible. Always keep a GOOD QUALITY micro fibre cloth in your car to mop spills up immediately. Keep an emergency cleaning kit on hand: rubbing alcohol, vinegar, baking soda, bottled water and dish soap.

Anything else you want to add?

To absorb foul smells in your car: fill a sock with unused coffee grounds. Wind an elastic around the sock to close and toss the sock into your vehicle to keep it smelling fresh. For cars not in use leave an open bag of charcoal in the vehicle to absorb stale odours.

For more on stain removal, other cleaning tricks or to find out more about her books, check out Reena’s website at

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ekisabeth June 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Wonder how to remove crayon stains from the car seat.


Ben June 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm
Craige September 13, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Actually Matt, the disgusting thing is that chocolate milk doesn’t smell at all. It never showed any signs of ‘going bad’.

Makes me wonder what I’m putting into my body :/


Matt September 13, 2010 at 9:29 am

Doesn’t the chocolate milk stink by now? haha.

I remember a time when I spilled a carton between the seats, that was nasty. That required a professional cleaning.


Craige September 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Quite interesting. Perhaps this will help me get the couple of stains out of my car. One is a coffee stain, and the other is chocolate milk, I believe.


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