If you do any driving with kids, then you know how disastrous they can be for your car's upholstery. If you have any in car seats still, that disaster can become even more disgusting without you even seeing it right away. Lift out those seats and you could unveil some seriously nasty spills and stains...and probably some petrified Cheerios too along with a funk of smells that could wake the dead
And if you've ever looked into having your car detailed you know that it can be pretty expensive! Trust me, as much as I want nothing to do with that crusted mystery stain or the smells, what sort of deal-seeking momma would I be if I paid $200 or even more to someone to clean my car?! That $200 could buy a week's worth of groceries for my family!
I thought I could battle car interior stains with my spot steam cleaner but after giving that a whirl I was still left with visible stains and then I had water spots in the upholstery that just made it look worse - if that's even possible! So I really rolled up my sleeves and got to work to find the perfect way to clean your car like the pros do it! And I'm here to tell you, mommas, it can be done!
Here's the magic ingredients you'll need:
- Club Soda
- Dawn Dish Soap - the original blue kind
- Scrub Brush
- Spray Bottle
- Shop Vac or a Steam Cleaner with suction
None of these have to be any fancy expensive type of soda or vinegar. Just the cheapest white vinegar and any old club soda will work. But definitely be sure you're using the blue Dawn soap. That part is non-negotiable.
I found that equal parts of all this stuff was my happy measurement that did the trick but you may need to fiddle with the amounts to tweak them as needed for your mess. The club soda will help to lift the stains, the blue Dawn dish soap is going to help loosen and clean the stains and the vinegar is going to help with the smell. So depending on what your trouble area is, you'll know what to add more of to your mixture.
I used a cup of each for my mixture and shook it up to mix it really well. And I know a little bit of Dawn goes a long way so if you want to try it with less for yours, go for it. But I didn't want mess around anymore with these stains and I knew that the Dawn was my biggest go-getter ingredient for them.
Once you have it all mixed in your spray bottle just spray the stains on your upholstery enough to lightly soak the surface. Let it sit for a few minutes... 3-4 will do. Then take your scrub brush and brush over the stain in a circular motion
And trust me, after about halfway through this step I seriously contemplated why I didn't have those boys at the auto-detailing shop just do this. Gah! But momma didn't raise no sissy and $200 saved is $200 I can spend at Target on something! Plus it helps to tone those arms ladies so there's always a bright side!
If you're using a Shop Vac for the last step then first you'll want to spray the stains once more but with just plain old water before sucking it all up. If you're using your steam cleaner, use the rinse cycle to spray on just water and then suck it up. Make sure you really get in there with the suction because you don't want to leave it too wet or you may still get water rings. And be sure you're applying an even misting of water.
And that my dear mommas should do the trick. Let it dry and you should be pleasantly surprised by a nice clean car when it does! And you'll probably want to give the kids a very lengthy speech about their auto hygiene for the future too - Especially that littlest one.
The vinegar smell will stick around for just a day or two until it fully airs out so if you are more repulsed by that smell than the homemade car yogurt smell that it was before, you could always add a few drops of lavender essential oil or citrus essential oil like lemon, orange or grapefruit to help cut through that.
But before spraying any oils onto that fresh new upholstery, just keep in mind that some may stain so either mix them with a lot of water and spray super fine mists on the seats, or just opt for an easier method and soak a paper towel in them and place it under your seats to deodorize the car without running the risk of oil stains. Viola!
And also, after spending the day getting my car looking brand new, I also invested in a couple of handy gadgets to prevent it from getting so bad again. If you have kids in carseats still, this car seat protector is amazing at keeping those spills from reaching your upholstery and preventing messes like that from happening again!