Cleaning Car Fabric & Carpets

Fabrics can be found in cars and accessories such as seats and convertible roof and cleaning them would put most car owners a big question mark on their head. Here at Project Detail, we are going to show you some variations on how to clean, protect and maintain your upholstery.

Cleaning Process

It is important to note that before beginning that knowing about the material you are cleaning is vital. In particular, when we or any detailer begin, assessing whether the material is frayed, damaged or poor quality is important to prevent or reduce potential damage.

The initial process for cleaning any of fabric, involves using compressed air or a powerful blower if available. While not entirely necessary, it allows debris to be dislodged and sit on top of surfaces making the following steps much easier. This is followed by an initial but thorough vacuum. Once the majority of loose debris is removed, do not worry about any particles or debris that may fall as you move seats around or shift the interior, these will be removed in subsequent vacuuming.

Hot Water Extraction

Hot Water Extraction

Hot Water Extraction (aka steam cleaning)

While it may not be accessible for the weekend warrior,  using a hot water extraction method our best approach when comes to cleaning seats and carpets. For fabric convertible roofs, we generally use a different and more gentle approach that we will be mentioning later in this article. 

While the machine itself may be unattainable, utilising hot water in a bucket of fabric cleaner and the right techniques is still a good option. The hot water allows the dirt and debris to be broken down but heat energy and combined with friction or physical scrubbing will allow a much better clean then just with cold water.

Cleaning Fabric on a fabric convertible roof with a suitable brush

Cleaning Fabric on a fabric convertible roof with a suitable brush

Fabric/Carpet/Upholstery/All Purpose Cleaner 

This method would something we recommend especially for higher end vehicles and we would spend the extra time with more delicate methods. Work in a small sections at a time. 

Start by spraying cleaning solution into the fabric, followed by agitating the fabric with a brush in a circle motion. Use a microfibre cloth and "absorb" the cleaning solution. Inspect the results, if any dirt or stain still remains, repeat the process.

Optional - Use a bucket with hot water with diluted cleaning solution. Using a rag or a microfibre mitt/towel scrub the area sprayed with the hotwater. Allow the solution to deeply penetrate into the fabric. Use a wet/dry vacuum to suck a remove the hot water. This will imitate the hot water extractor and allow for a deeper clean.

Important note - be sure to check before applying any chemicals to areas like alcantara, suede or other delicate materials.

Fabric Protection

Fabric Protection at work on a Porsche Boxter Spyder soft top.

Fabric Protection at work on a Porsche Boxter Spyder soft top.

Fabric protection is an optional choice, considering they are expensive and applying correctly without without leaving stains on the surrounded plastics might be a challenge for some. 

Before any fabric protection application, the fabric might be completely dry and clean. Mask off any plastic or trims if necessary.

Prepare a damp towel with you at all times in case the fabric gets into any plastics and trims. Spray fabric coat onto the fabric, use damp towel to remove any overspray. Repeat for the rest of the fabric. Wind down the windows or open the door for the next few hours for it to dry and cure. 

Note - Once again, test a small area as some materials do not respond the same as others with protection products.

We hope this article helped you in cleaning your vehicle's fabrics. For any questions, feel free by clicking here.