How to Get Stains & Odors Out of Car Seat Fabric | ARM & HAMMER™

How to Clean Car Seat Stains and Remove Odors

It happens. Soda, coffee, sweat, ketchup – even blood – end up on your car seats and leave a stain. All is not lost, and you don’t need a fancy commercial cleaner. Reach for ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda, water, and a brush and you’ll have your upholstered car seats clean in no time.

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5 Ways to Use Baking Soda to Clean Car Seats

Your car’s seats can take a beating, especially if you have kids, pets, or are in the car a lot for work. Between immediate known spills (like hot sauce from that taco you ate while driving) and the stains that just appear (is that from when you took your doggo to the lake? Cooler leak? Sippy cup disaster?), it can be a challenge to keep car seats looking and smelling fresh.

 

Knowing how to clean car seats is as simple as reaching for a familiar orange box or better yet, the refillable ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda Shaker for easy pouring and sprinkling. If you’re dealing with a food stain, oil stain, an accumulated stain from sweat, water, or sunscreen or even a surprise accident from a pet or toddler, you can use baking soda, water, and a little elbow grease to refresh your car seats and get rid of stains and odors—no matter how they got there.

 

Before you dive in to clean your car seats with baking soda, always start with a spot treatment in an inconspicuous area to check for color-fastness and for residual water marks upon drying.

Here are 5 ways to use baking soda to clean dirty car seats.

 

1. Baking Soda Paste & Scrub Method to Clean Car Seats

A paste of baking soda and water is an excellent chemical-free low-abrasion cleaner for many jobs, from scorched pans, grill grates, or white shoes. It also works well on dirty car seats.

 

Materials:

  1. 2 parts ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda
  2. 1 part water
  3. Small bowl to mix
  4. Sponge, toothbrush, or scrub brush
  5. Damp towel to rinse
  6. Dry towel to wipe dry

 

The proportions for a baking soda paste are roughly 2 to 1, depending on how thick you prefer. For a small area, try 2 tablespoons baking soda to 1 tablespoon water, and increase proportionally if you need additional paste for larger cleaning jobs.

 

Method:

  1. PREP: Remove large items and vacuum car seats.
  2. TEST: Do a spot check on an inconspicuous area if this is the first time you’ve used baking soda on these car seats.
  3. MIX: a paste of 2 parts ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda, 1 part water in a small bowl.
  4. APPLY: Using the brush or your fingers, apply the paste to the stain.
  5. WAIT: Let it sit for anywhere between 30 seconds and five minutes for most stains, or up to 30 minutes for difficult ones.
    OPTIONAL: If your seats are not leather, use a toothbrush, scrub brush or sponge to scrub the stain, using circular motions.
  6. RINSE: Wipe away excess and rinse with a damp but not soaking wet towel.
  7. WIPE: Wipe dry with a clean, soft cloth.
  8. REPEAT: as needed for tough stains.

 

Use this method for cloth and vinyl seats and check the recommendations for cleaning leather car seats provided by your manufacturer.

* Caution: Before use, test a hidden area of car seats for color-fastness. Mix ½ tablespoon in ½ cup water and pour small amount on car seats. Let dry, vacuum, and check car seats.

 

2. Baking Soda Dip & Dab Method for Car Fabric Stains

An easy way to clean car seats as well as areas like center consoles, arm rests, doors and other upholstered areas is to dip your sponge or rag into baking soda and scrub small areas, working your way across the seat surface and throughout the car.

 

Materials:

  • 1 tablespoon ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda added to a small bowl or container
  • A damp rag or sponge
  • Clean wet rag to rinse
  • Towel to dry

 

Method:

  1. TEST: Do a spot check on an inconspicuous area if this is the first time you’ve used baking soda on these car seats.
  2. DAB: Take your damp (but not dripping) rag or sponge and tap it into the ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda.
  3. LIGHTLY SCRUB: Using your fingers through the rag or sponge, place the soda-covered side onto the side and scrub lighting with circular motions.
  4. WIPE: with a clean damp cloth.

 

This method is particularly useful on discolored cloth seats that have gotten dingy or dark over time.

* Caution: Before use, test a hidden area of car seats for color-fastness. Mix ½ tablespoon in ½ cup water and pour small amount on car seats. Let dry, vacuum, and check car seats.

 

3. Sprinkle Baking Soda onto Car Seats to Get Rid of Odors

If you have lingering smells baked into the car seats, baking soda will help neutralize and absorb odors, just like it does on carpet, closets, or refrigerators in your home. Try the dual-sided ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda Shaker for easy sprinkling, pouring and scooping. Or reach for the large Resealable Bag when you have a heavy-duty job.

 

Method:

After cleaning the area (this is especially helpful if you’ve had to clean up vomit), do the following:

  1. TEST: Do a quick spot check in an inconspicuous area to test color-fastness.
  2. SPRINKLE: Liberally sprinkle ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda on the vehicle carpet or seats.
  3. WAIT: Let sit for at least 15 minutes to absorb oils and odor, longer if needed.
  4. VACUUM: Vacuum thoroughly.

 

You can also use baking soda to help absorb oil stains, including on leather car seats. If you’ve spilled something oily or dribbled grease from a burger onto your seats, sprinkle baking soda on the stain to help absorb the oil (do not scrub). Then, vacuum and wipe down leather seats with a slightly damp cloth. Always moisturize and condition leather seats after cleaning.

To keep your car smelling fresh, place a box of ARM & HAMMER™ Fresh‐n‐Natural Odor Absorber in your car to help deodorize throughout the day.

 

 

* Caution: Before use, test a hidden area of car seats and carpets for color-fastness. Mix ½ tablespoon in ½ cup water and pour small amount on car seats and carpets. Let dry, vacuum, and check car seats and carpets.

 

4. Baking Soda DIY Car Upholstery Cleaner

Rather than purchasing an expensive car fabric cleaner or wondering what toxic chemicals you might be breathing in, you can use a simple and effective upholstery cleaner made from water and a household item you probably already have around: baking soda.

 

Materials:

  • ¼ cup ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Toothbrush or scrub brush
  • Damp rag to rinse/wipe
  • Towel to dry

 

Method:

  1. TEST: Start with a spot treatment in an inconspicuous area to be sure the fabric is colorfast and. that no water marks remain after drying.
  2. MIX: the ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda and warm water in a spray bottle. Make sure all the powder dissolves.
  3. SPRAY: the solution liberally onto the stained area of the car seat. The trick is to wet, but not soak or saturate.
  4. WAIT: Let sit for up to 30 minutes (use this time to clean other areas of the car).
  5. OPTIONAL: If your seats are not leather, use a toothbrush or scrub brush in a circular pattern to work the ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda spray around on the surface.
  6. WIPE: with a damp cloth.
  7. DRY: with a towel.

 

Keep the car doors open as long as possible after cleaning to allow the seats to air out and finish drying.

For an alternate cleaning solution to absorb odor and treat stains, try adding a tablespoon of dish detergent and a ¼ cup vinegar to the basic recipe of baking soda and warm water.

* Caution: Before use, test a hidden area of car seats for color-fastness. Mix ½ tablespoon in ½ cup water and pour small amount on car seats. Let dry, vacuum, and check car seats.

 

5. How to Clean Infant Car Seats

You can use any of the methods above to clean the fabric or belts on an infant or child’s car seat. However, most child car seats have removable fabric covers that you can take off and put in your washing machine. Check your child’s car seat and follow the instructions on the care label for how best to wash.

Sprinkling and vacuuming up baking soda in rear- or front-facing car seats can be a quick refresh between washes to keep odors down and help absorb any residual mystery spills.

 

Clean Dirty Car Seats, Carpet, & Upholstery with Baking Soda

You probably knew baking soda is a universal cleaner and odor-absorber for throughout your home, but now you know it’s also great to clean and deodorize your car, van, SUV, truck, camper, RV, boat, or any vehicle with upholstered seats. Try one of the methods above to get your seats looking and smelling clean and fresh, without breaking the bank or wearing a gas mask.

Use pure, natural ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda for all your baking and cleaning needs. You can be sure that your box or bag contains nothing but 100 percent sodium bicarbonate, refined from trona mined in the United States. ARM & HAMMER™ is the standard of purity for baking soda and the trusted brand for 175 years.

Tips to freshen things up

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