How to Clean Car Carpet

The rugs in our vehicles take a beating, whether it's absorbing whatever is being dragged in from the outside world to catching coffee and other drink spills. Fortunately, there are alternatives to replacement when they get soiled. Similar to carpeting at home, a few simple tools — including a carpet cleaner or a wet/dry vac and the right car care products — and the right technique will get them looking factory fresh again.

products and tools used to clean floor mats

Source | Benjamin Yong
Vehicle System
Appearance, Body, & Towing
Skill Level

This is a good project for new DIYers

Time to Complete
30 minutes per floor mat
    Steps to Clean Car Carpets
  1. The first thing to do is take the mats out of the vehicle — don't attempt to perform any cleaning inside the car as you may inadvertently splash liquid onto the interior. Give them a shake and then place on a dry, flat surface.

    two floor mats placed on garage floor

    Source | Benjamin Yong

  2. Vacuum up any loose dust and particles stuck to the fibers, and don't forget about the underside. If the fabric is damp, best to let everything dry out first, or sprinkle on a handful of baking powder to help soak up the moisture and speed up the process. As a bonus, it helps neutralize unwanted odors as well.

    vacuuming a car mat

    Source | Benjamin Yong

  3. Clean the mats using one of the following methods, taking care to focus on a small section at a time:

  4. a. If using a carpet cleaner (I'm partial to the all-in-one Bissell lineup that comes in a variety of sizes both corded and cordless, like the handheld version of the Little Green), there may be a recommended proprietary cleaning solution for the onboard sprayer.

    Mist the surface and use the integrated brush to work in the shampoo. Let sit for five minutes before pressing the head of the unit down into the mat to activate the suction function and suck up the dirty liquid, row by row making multiple passes.

    b. Pick up a product like this one from Meguiar's featuring an active foam and a scrubber on the lid. Squirt a moderate amount of foam and then massage the pile with the top.

    Pro Tip

    For an eco-friendlier method, try combining equal parts hot water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray but don't saturate the rug, and use a stiff-bristled brush to apply.

    c. Using method B? You'll want to use a wet/dry vac to extract the excess soap/solution. Make sure you're using the correct attachment and that the foam filter is fitted.

  5. It's important to let the rugs dry completely before putting them back in to avoid creating a stale smell in the cabin — if possible, hang in the sunlight on a warm day. Afterward, vacuum the floor mats once more to remove any last traces of dirt and re-install.

    car mat hanging on a fence to dry

    Source | Benjamin Yong

  6. That's it! Just a few easy steps and you're ready to go show off those fresh carpets. You'll be amazed at the difference it makes. 

Last updated August 31, 2021