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How To Clean A Car Mat: Removing, Cleaning + Maintaining

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Deciding on how to clean a car mat takes prep. You must remove the car seats, scrub footwell carpets, and properly sanitize the mats themselves. Here's how.

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  • How To Clean A Car Mat: Removing, Cleaning + Maintaining

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, car mats are designed to protect footwell carpets by containing dirt, soaking up liquids, and preventing any filth on a rider's shoes from spreading around the car. Unfortunately, dirt and liquids can still make it past the mats, especially if they're filthy themselves.

Car mats may be lifted off the footwell carpets and cleaned separately, but the carpet beneath is more difficult to sanitize. If you ignore it, however, this can lead to irreversible stains and bad odours.

So how do you clean both properly? Alongside needing a high suction vacuum, a brush, and detergent, you will also need to remove your car seats. To help, here's a guide on how to clean a car mat – as well as the rest of your car's lower interior - from start to finish:

Gather The Right Tools

For this job, you will need:

  • A high suction vacuum (your home vacuum may be sufficient, or you might need to visit a petrol station or car wash centre that provides access to a stronger vacuum)
  • A heavy scrub brush (wire bristles are discouraged, as they could harm the interior, but thick, plastic bristles will be fine)
  • Detergent (any type is acceptable)
  • Carpet cleaner (which is more thorough than detergent and will properly sanitize the interior)
  • Optional : a steam cleaner for the carpets

Remove Your Car Mats

Now, you should remove the most accessible and easily cleaned part of the interior: the car mats themselves.

  • Fold the edges of the car met over (this will prevent any mess from falling back onto the carpet, where it's harder to remove)
  • Lift the mats from the vehicle
  • Shake them out, away from the car, to dislodge any obvious dirt or debris
  • Leave them to one side on a dry, flat surface, such as a driveway.
  • Avoid placing the mats in a walkway, as they can become a tripping hazard or get more filthy by passing shoes.

Remove Your Car Seats

To reach the footwell carpets, the car seats must be removed. Depending on the model of your car, it might be necessary to remove them completely, or you can slide them as far back as possible, giving you access to the carpeting.

In any case, removing the seats is beneficial for other forms of car maintenance, so it's worth knowing how to do it yourself.

  • Before removing front seats (which have airbags), disconnect the negative battery cable
  • Wait for 20 minutes
  • Slide the seat forward and remove the screws in the back
  • Repeat the other way
  • Tilt the seat
  • Disconnect any cables or harnesses
  • Carefully remove it.

Clean Your Footwell Carpets

With the footwell carpets in full view, it's time to vacuum.

  • Use a high-suction vacuum to thoroughly clean up any pressed-in dirt
  • Pause vacuuming every few minutes to scrub at the carpet with your brush, as this will loosen the dirt that's embedded in the fibres
  • Vacuum up the loose debris
  • After this, use hot, soapy water and the brush to work out stubborn messes, such as chewing gum
  • If you have one, use the pressure from a steam cleaner to be thorough

The next step is to shampoo the footwell. This will remove any leftover dirt and stains, and get rid of bad odours.

  • Spray the entire carpet with a carpet cleaner
  • Brush it in with a stiff-bristled brush
  • Rub with a microfibre cloth, applying medium pressure
  • One last vacuum will remove the last of the carpet shampoo
  • Wipe it again with your cloth to blot out the water
  • Leave your car windows down, so it can properly ventilate and dry

Clean Your Floor Mats

Now you can address the floor mats that you set aside.

  • A quick brush will remove the surface layer of dust from the floor mat
  • Vigorously shake and bang the mats to loosen any further dust
    • You may want to wear eye, nose, and mouth protection for this, as there is often more dust than expected and the particles can be fine
  • Vacuum the surface of the floor mat with a high-suction vacuum
  • Pause to go over it with a brush to loosen dirt
  • Clear any freed dust away with the vacuum
  • Use a hose to blast the deeply ingrained dirt and bring it to the surface
  • Spray the mat's surface with carpet shampoo, and leave it to sit for a minute
  • Work the cleaner into the mat using your stiff-bristled brush
  • Rub with a microfibre cloth, lifting water and dirt.
  • Vacuum the floor mats with your high suction vacuum, pulling out the cleaner and the remaining grime.
  • Hang the floor mat to dry in a place with ample ventilation, such as a washing line or fence
  • Make sure they're fully dry before putting them back in the car, or mould can grow.

Once the footwell carpets and your floor mats are dried, you can reattach the seats by repeating the steps above in reversion. You're done! Your clean mats and footwell carpets will refresh the tired interior and remove any lingering bad smells.

Cleaning Solutions At Autofusion

For more advice on cleaning your car, head over to our blog for tips on air con recharging, tyre cleaning, and general car maintenance. If you have any more questions, want some help in removing your car seats, or need a more thorough clean, contact your local Autofusion for competitively priced servicing packages. We're happy to help!