Dirty car floor mats are inevitable, no matter how hard you try to keep your car squeaky clean. Dirt and spills happen every time and again, resulting in bad stains, odors, rust erosion, and even damage to the frame. Car carpets are designed to capture and protect the interior from a range of debris, including mud, food crumbs, stones, and other substances that might stain your car’s floors.
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Since car mats receive a lot of unwanted dirt and grime every single day, they gradually retain residue causing bad stains in the long run. While most car owners leave their dirty mats for a professional car detailer, it’s pretty easy to deep-clean them the same way professionals do. Today’s blog post focuses on how to clean car floor mats like a pro.
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- What You Need for Cleaning Car Mats
- How to Clean Car Mats – An in Depth Guide
What You Need for Cleaning Car Mats
- Wet/dry vac
- Pressurized water hose
- Stiff nylon brush
- Dedicated auto carpet stain remover
- Carpet extractor or clean terry cloth towels
- Dedicated auto carpet cleaning product
- Baking soda
How to Clean Car Mats – An in Depth Guide
Step 1: Take mats out of the car
When it comes to how to clean car mats with bad stains, the first step is to remove them from the car. Avoid cleaning car mats right inside the car, because you’ll be using cleaning products that can further stain the interior surfaces. Gently open all the car’s doors one by one, and then carefully take them mats out of the car.
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Step 2: Shake to remove loose debris
After removing the mats from the vehicle, give them a good shake to dislodge and remove the loose debris. You can also flex, slap or whack the mat against a hard surface to loosen and let the debris fly off the mat. If there are any stuck-on materials like stones, you may want to get them off using a scraper, which will crack and break the stains.
Step 3: Rinse away any loose stains
Using a pressurized water hose, spray the mat with water to disengage loose stains and dirt left in the preceding step. A high-pressure hose is ideal for rinsing the mat as it blasts away the stains, but don’t use too high pressure to prevent damaging the mat. Also, concentrate on the dirty side of the mats, and ignore the side that would get in contact with the car floor.
Step 4: Vacuum the mats
Lay the mat flat and vacuum each side with a wet/dry shop vac to suction up all of the dust particles before cleaning it further. Vacuuming is a great way to draw out as much of the loose crumbs and moisture as possible. If you have no vacuum cleaner around, you can get one from your local gas station or car wash.
Step 5: Scrub with detergents
By now you probably know that vacuuming the floor mat is not enough to get rid of bad stains. You’ll have to scrub it with a cleaning solution and a stiff nylon brush to remove stubborn stains and bacteria residing deep inside the mat. By scrubbing with detergents, you stand the best chance of blasting away any lingering stains that couldn’t be loosened or removed by spraying with a hose.
Use a suitable brush that is optimized for use specifically on automotive materials, such as a stiff nylon brush or a wire brush. You are highly recommended to use a brush with a sturdy handle to allow for easy control while scrubbing. Additionally, pick a compact brush that will let you clean the crevices and the corners of the mat with ease – more-so if your mat is made of plastic or rubber.
Spray your car floor mats liberally with a dedicated auto carpet cleaner (or baking soda) and a generous amount of warm water. Allow about 10-20 minutes for the cleaner to soak in, and then brush the mat with the stiff nylon brush. Focus the scrubbing in a circular pattern on the affected spots, and do it thoroughly so that the embedded dust and crumbs can come off.
With a good scrubbing, any ground-in dirt and greasy chemical stains should get washed away leaving no residue behind. Also sprinkle baking soda lightly onto the floor mat and leave it seated on the mat for at least 10 minutes. This will absorb some foul odor and moisture from the carpet floor mat.
Step 6: Hose off the detergents
Once you have scrubbed the mat with detergents, the cleaning solution will be left and thus must be rinsed properly. Take a hose to wash off the detergents, paying attention to the side where there is more concentration of detergents. Avoid wetting the downside of the mat where it would touch the car floor.
The hose will not only rinse all the detergents away, but it will also help dislodge loosely gathered dirt or food on the mat. If you don’t have a hose, you can simply use a bucket of water, although a pressurized hose will prove handy in dislodging loose materials from the car floor mats. You could also use a carpet extractor to eliminate the residual dirt and cleaning solution, or use a clean terry-cloth towel to wipe the carpet dry.
Step 7: Vacuum the mats again
Vacuuming helps suck up the last bits of dirt particles that the cleaner brought up. It will also suck up some of the water remaining on the mat. It is best to use a vacuum cleaner designed for sucking up moisture, but using a regular vacuum’s hose attachments can also be of help.
If the mats still have lingering pet odor after cleaning, sprinkle some baking soda over the mat and allow it to sit overnight. Baking soda helps neutralize foul odors resulting from pets, food, and other dirt. Run the vacuuming cleaner over the car mat again to blast away the baking soda.
Step 8: Dry the mats
Finally, allow the mats to dry on both sides. However, try not to expose them directly to the sunlight because the sun’s heat can bleach out the colors of the mats leading to fading or cracking. Place your car floor mats in a cool, shaded area and allow them to dry slowly.
Alternatively, gently rub them down with a microfiber towel or use an air-conditioner to accelerate the drying process. Make sure the rubber mats are completely dry on either side before placing them back in the car. Otherwise, it could lead to the development of mold spores and a damp smell.
Car mats need proper attention to keep them in their pristine look. Regular cleaning of your car floor mats will help prevent the interior floor from getting heavily soiled, which could lead to the formation of rust. With the above tips on how to clean floor mats in your car, you’ve got all you need to give your car floor mats a significant overhaul.