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How Do I Clean Car Floor Mats?

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No matter how good your intentions to keep your car clean and shiny are, your floor mats will always be the first part to show signs of wear and tear. And, before you know it, your car will start to look messy again! Luckily you can obtain professional car detailing at home in a few simple steps.

How do you clean car floor mats? Generally, start by vacuuming them. Then, using an adequate cleaner and a brush, rub the substance in the fabric. Rinse and allow them to dry before reinserting them in the car. Carpet mats might also need baking soda to eliminate odors.

Of course, cleaning your mats at home can require a little effort and time. However, in this way, you can avoid paying exorbitant detailers’ bills and get your car to shine. Let’s dive into the details of cleaning car floor mats at home!

How Do I Clean Cloth Floor Mats?

Cloth or carpet floor mats are a great alternative to the more common rubber mats. Indeed, these are a custom-fit option that adds a cozy and luxurious touch to the interior of your car compared to standard factory mats. Many drivers also opt for this alternative as carpet mats are usually cheaper than dealership-bought mats and provide increased protection to the surrounding surfaces.

Aside from coming in different colors and shapes, they fit your car’s interior perfectly! That is why you can find them in more luxurious types of vehicles and showrooms. If you want to match the mats to the color of the seats, but you can’t find an adequate solution, custom-made carpets can genuinely add an exclusive look to your car.

However, on the downside, these are an optimal solution only if you don’t tend to take in much dirt or dust while using your car. Carpet car mats can be trickier to clean than other models and tend to attract and trap in all debris, mud, and dust from the road. Below you can find out how to take the best care of them!

What you’ll need

  • A vacuum cleaner, as well as a wet vac (wet vacuum cleaner) if possible
  • Baking soda 
  • Detergent (powder) and shampoo 
  • Carpet floor mat cleaner 
  • A brush – preferably with stiff bristles
  • Hose – or bucket of water 

A step-by-step guide

The steps to clean rubber and cloth floor mats are similar, yet there are some differences worth noting to obtain the best results. When washing carpet floor mats, you should keep in mind that they usually attract more dirt and dust. Therefore, you might need to repeat one or more of the steps below.

  1. Remove the mats – this step is essential to protect the interior of your car while treating the carpets with cleaning chemicals. Moreover, trying to reach the corners of the mats while in your vehicle can be tricky! Instead, place them on a flat surface that you don’t mind getting dirty! A terrace, garage, yard, or driveway are perfect locations.
  2. Shake and vacuum the carpets – removing the first layer of dust and debris from the mats can help you clean them faster and more efficiently. To do so, shake them or whack them against a hard surface or metal pole. You can also proceed to vacuum them to get rid of the smaller dust particles attached to it. 
  3. Use the baking soda – baking soda has thousands of surprising uses thanks to its characteristics. One of the favorite ones by detailing enthusiasts is its power to eliminate pets and food odors from upholstery and cloths. For this step, rub the powder directly onto the surfaces of the mat. Alternatively, you can create a water and baking soda solution, pour it onto a brush and work it through the fabric.
  4. Use shampoo / powdered detergent / a professional mat cleaner – soapy water on a sponge is probably the preferred way to complete this step. However, you could also use a powdered detergent mixed with water or a cleaner spray. You might need to let the substance rest on the fabric for a few minutes before rubbing it.
  5. Rinse the mats – a hose would yield the best results as it can dissipate the dirt from the carpet. However, if you don’t have a tube at your disposal, you could opt to use a bucket filled with lukewarm water.
  6. Vacuum the mats again – a great way to eliminate excess moisture and prevent your carpets from smelling is to vacuum them again. In this case, it is preferable to opt for wet vac.
  7. Dry your mats – hang them to dry in the open during a sunny day or opt to use a low-setting dryer. In any case, make sure that they are completely dry before reinserting them in your car.

Another efficient method to clean your cloth car mats is to use a washing machine. To do so, you should start by removing extra dirt and dust with a vacuum, rub a cleaning spray on the fabric, and set your washer on a low setting!

How Do I Clean Rubber Floor Mats?

If you realized that you tend to spill your coffee a little too often and you can’t keep up with the level of maintenance carpet mats need, you might have opted for rubber mats instead. These models are much easier to look after and keep clean, even with a DIY method. 

Other essential features that might convince you to upgrade to these models are:

  • They can help you keep the oxidation and rusting of your car at bay
  • They stand the daily wear and tear better than cloth mats
  • They are longer-lasting
  • They can make your car look more well-maintained and tidy
  • They don’t attract and retain odors 
  • Rubber mats are perfect for pet owners
  • If you live in a coastal or weather-prone area, rubber mats protect the interior of your car from moisture.

The cleaning process for rubber mats is similar to the one we have seen for carpet mats. However, there are some essential differences to take into consideration before starting!

What you’ll need

  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A rubber mat cleaner or laundry soap – mix them with lukewarm water
  • A brush with stiff bristles 
  • Water for rinsing
  • A microfiber towel

A step-by-step guide

  1. Remove the mats from your car – again, start by removing the rubber mats from your vehicle. While the cleaning procedure is much more straightforward in this case, water and chemical substances could end up in your car and ruin its interior. Removing the mats allow you to protect the upholstery!
  2. Shake them and vacuum the surface – removing debris, dust, mud, and dirt in excess is essential. Start by shaking the carpets and remove the finest particles with a vacuum cleaner.
  3. Create a mixture of water, baking soda, and soap – if you don’t have at your disposal a professional rubber cleaner, don’t fret! Create a mix of baking powder, soap, and water in a bucket and proceed to rub it on the dirty surfaces with a sponge.
  4. Scrub the mats with a brush – once your rubber mats are starting to look cleaner, repeat the step above but, this time, scrub the corner and hard-to-remove dirt with a stiff-bristled brush. Continue until the mats are stainless.
  5. Rinse them with water – ensure that no chemicals are left on the carpets, as these can easily create damage to the interior of your car later on. Even in this case, using a hose is recommendable. However, thanks to the more even surfaces, you can use a bucket of water just as successfully.
  6. Remove excessive moisture with a microfiber towel – with a clean and dry microfiber cloth, proceed to dry off any moisture in excess from the mats. This trick will speed up the drying process.
  7. Allow them to dry – place your mats outdoors in a well-ventilated area and allow them to dry. This step is essential! Since rubber will trap in moisture, if you reinsert them before they are completely dry, moisture could gather underneath the mats. In turn, this could cause oxidative damage to your car’s surfaces.

How Do I Make A DIY Floor Mats Cleaner?

As we have seen above, everything you need to see the best results when cleaning your car mats is baking soda, soap, and water. However, if these ingredients have not yielded the results you wanted to see, there are other options. The first one is to speak with a detailer and buy a recommended professional spray or liquid cleaner. 

While these substances are highly effective, they also contain quite harsh chemicals that could linger to the surfaces of your mats and, therefore, in your car. Alternatively, if you prefer to know what ingredients are going on your carpets, you could prepare a DIY cleaning blend at home!

The recipe

For this project, you will need:

  • Two tablespoons of Borax
  • Three tablespoons of soap (better if solid and grated)
  • 2 cups (500ml) of boiling water

Mix all the elements into a bowl until the soap flakes dissolve entirely in the boiling water. As you mix the ingredients, you should notice them blend into a uniform foam. Use a brush with stiff bristles to soak up the blend and use it to scrub the carpets. If you would like to make your car smell fresher, you could also add ten drops of lavender essential oil into the mix. However, this step is optional.

Removing Stains From Car Floor Mats

Now you are all caught up about the different ways of cleaning car floor mats depending on their make and materials! However, it is not unlikely that harder-to-remove stains are still making them look scruffier than you would like them to be. Independently on whether you are dealing with rubber, vinyl, cloth, or carpet mats, you might have to face the reality that some stains will just not go!

However, there are natural, easy-to-make solutions that you can create at home to get your car as shiny as if it has just come out of the detailing shop! For this recipe, you will need:

  • Vinegar – 1 cup or 250 milliliters
  • Baking soda – 1 cup or 230 grams
  • Liquid dishwashing soap – ½ cup or 125 milliliters

Start by mixing all of these ingredients into a bowl or container. Then, carefully pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Before proceeding to clean your mats, spray this blend directly onto the stain, you want to remove. Don’t forget to spray the area surrounding the stain as there could be contaminants there too. 

Allow the blend to rest on the stain for up to thirty minutes. During this timeframe, the acid in the vinegar will work its way through the dirt, breaking it down. With a brush or old clean towel, rub the substance deep into the fiber until the stain becomes to fade. As it is all gone, you can rinse your mat and proceed to clean them normally, as we have seen above.

For this project, you should opt to use cleaning vinegar instead of regular white vinegar. Indeed, the first one has an increased level of acidity compared to the second one, which means that it can break down even the sturdiest stains!

Extra Tips 

Now that the mats are drying, there are some additional tasks to undertake to see your vehicle even cleaner!

Clean the carpet underneath the mats

Since you have already started working on the mats, why not freshen up the carpet underneath! Indeed, this part of your car remains a little forgotten at times, but it can trap in quite a lot of debris and dirt. To clean it, start by vacuuming the area to eliminate all the accumulated grime.

You can also sprinkle baking soda to this area to remove persistent odors before vacuuming again. If you have used a little solution to minimize the stains that have appeared over time, make sure the area is entirely dry before replacing the mats.

Keep your car tidy

If you have dedicated your Sunday morning to clean the mats of your car, you could continue to clean up the rest of your vehicle! while your carpets are drying, vacuum the inside of your car and reorganize each compartment. This step can also help you keep your precious mats clean for much longer!

Some simple steps to get your car look amazing are:

  1. Wipe the dashboard. Apply a little olive oil on the surface with a cloth to polish it and hide marks and scratches.
  2. Use a gummy gel to clean food debris from tight places such as cup holders.
  3. Use a squeegee to pick up all the fur and pet hair flying around the vehicle.

Pick a brush that is easy to handle

If you have decided to do a job at home and clean the mats by yourself, you should keep in mind that not all stains will go just by washing them. Instead, you might need to work the baking soda or vinegar into the fibers to soften the most stubborn stains. Picking a brush that you can handle easily can help you complete the job faster and more efficiently.

Removing and reinserting the mats are delicate steps!

Cleaning the mats can require some effort! You might fall for the temptation to just throw the rugs back in the car after washing them and carry on with your weekend. However, it is essential to avoid this mistake! 

  • As you remove the mats to clean them outdoors, make sure not much of the mud and dirt slides over to the carpet underneath. Indeed, this part of the car might be much trickier to clean than your rubber mats! Especially if you have just returned from a trip to the countryside or it has been raining outside, ensure that no liquids end up staining the carpet.
  • When reinserting the carpets in your car, ensure that they are thoroughly dry and do so carefully. If the mats are still moist, the water could end up underneath and remain trapped between the mat and the car’s surface. Aside from making your whole vehicle smell damp, it can also create oxidative damage and rust over time.

Final Thoughts

Keeping the car, you use every day clean throughout the month can be a challenge, especially if you live in an area subjected to frequent weather changes. Even worse, most of the debris and particles will end up settling on your carpets! 

To clean them properly, you should check whether they are rubber or carpet mats. The first ones are sturdier, easier to clean, and dry. The second one might require more effort on your part and the addition of baking soda to eliminate odors. 

However, in both cases, you should proceed to:

  • Remove them from your car
  • Shake or vacuum them
  • Wash them with a soapy solution
  • Rinse them with a hose
  • Vacuum away the moisture in excess
  • Allow them to dry 

And you will have shiny carpets in no time and without paying a detailer!

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