How to Steam Clean Car Seats | 8 Easy Steps with Expert’s Tips & Guide

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Since your car goes through a lot of use, it is no wonder that car seats and other parts get dirty easily. It may look deceivingly clean but surprisingly it’s not. For hygiene purposes, you need to keep the upholstery of your car clean and tidy. Most of the time your budget may not allow you to go for professional services. Why not DIY?

However, it is unwise to experiment with different tactics on your own without educating properly. Using chemicals with harsh components may damage your car or leave you sick when you sit in it afterwards. You can steam clean your car seats on your own without using commercial-grade steamers. The home grade models are much cheaper and easy to use. But still, you need to know how to steam clean car seats. To help you out, here are the simple steps that will keep your car seats looking neat and great.

Steam Clean Fabric Car Seats At Home

Get the Essentials

Before starting any process, you need to collect all the essentials that you will need. In this case, most of them may already be part of your home maintenance tool box. You need a steam cleaner, which you can rent if you don’t have one. An upholstery cleaner and a pre-conditioner with soil emulsifying properties. A fan and heat resistant safety gloves.

For gloves, make sure you get those that fit your hand perfectly. Otherwise, it may hamper your movements. It will also protect your hands from scalding. All the mentioned items are essential if you want trouble free cleaning.

Vacuuming the Car Meticulously

This is the time to get rid of all the unnecessary junk and dirt to make things easier. Vacuum the carpets and seats thoroughly with a brush attachment on the cleaner. It is an excellent opportunity to sweep away any loose hair or particles. You can use the crevice tool to get into all the nooks and corners of the seats. Don’t forget to vacuum the backrest of the seats. While you’re at it, vacuum the rest of the upholstery as well in case there is lost candy or anything like that.

Pre-Conditioning and Shampoo Car Seats

This is another great step in steam cleaning your car seats. Use a pre-treatment conditioner to get rid of any nasty and stubborn stains e.g. spilt ink or coffee. It is necessary to choose an appropriate conditioner or shampoo made specifically for the material. Follow the directions and apply it accordingly.

If not, you can also make a quick treatment solution at home. Take ¼ cup baking soda in 1 cup warm water and apply this concoction with a brush on the seats. Give the car a good wash for better results.

Keep Your Steam Cleaner Ready

The weight and size of the steam cleaner are quite important. Handheld cleaners are quite compact and portable as compared to commercial steam cleaners. Keeping the pressure setting at minimum or medium, cover the tip of the cleaner with a microfiber cloth. Make sure the brush attachment is triangular and the tip of the cleaner is flat and non-abrasive.

The triangular type of attachment is quite vital as it agitates the fibres and lifts the dirt loosened by steam. While following the operating instructions on the manual, fill the water reservoir with water. Depending on the type, it will take for the steam cleaner less than 30 minutes to heat up. Now you are ready to start cleaning.

Steps to Deep Clean Leather Car Seats

  1. To make steam cleaning more convenient, start doing it in sections. Run the triangular hose attachment slowly through the car seats.
  2. Start from top to bottom and back to front. This will relieve you from the discomfort of getting down on the damp fabric. Work your way slowly to the bottom.
  3. Make overlapping strokes in a vertical motion. This will help cover all the areas. Since too much moisture destroys leather, avoid holding the hose on leather seats for too long.
  4. Even if the stains are residual, brush lightly or else you will cause pilling to the seats. Put even pressure and focus on all parts of the seat. Don’t forget the nooks and crevices.
  5. If you steam clean regularly, avoid all the metal parts around the seats from steam. This may result in rusting.
  6. Avoid making random motions, instead, make consistent, smooth and straight-line movements.
  7. Although there won’t be much water residue left behind, open the windows to let the car dry quickly. Use a dry brush or microfiber soft cloth to wipe the seats if necessary. You can use a fan as well.
  8. For finishing touches, use an upholstery freshener spray or you can condition your leather seats.

Benefits of Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning has lots of specs and benefits as compared to traditional cleaning methods. It is a whole new level of cleaning that does require some effort but is not worthless. In case you have any doubts about this deep cleaning method, the following benefits will give you many reasons why you should do it.

Free of Chemicals

Water and heat are the only cleaning components used in steam cleaning. There are no harmful chemicals involved in this cleaning process. Steam cleaning also helps to remove any chemical residue in the place. It is also a very eco-friendly way of cleaning.


A steam cleaner is the only cleaning and sanitising tool that does not need any special, costly cleaning solutions. Owning it means you can work with whatever you have at home, only water in most cases.

Pet and Kids Friendly

Steam cleaning also helps remove any bad odour. Since it is a chemical-free process, there won’t be any stinky chemical smell left behind. So after cleaning,  it is safe to take your kids and pets on a ride.

Kills Bacterias and Allergens

Bacterias and allergens are the trickiest to catch. The hot vapours from the steam cleaner penetrate the pores of the fabric and forces all the bacteria on the surface. Therefore, this is a preferred cleaning method for people with multiple allergies and chemical sensitivities.

Hunts Down Mites

Dust mites and sneeze inducing pests are common to get trapped in the car. These are known to be one of the reasons for asthma. To avoid the onset of such diseases, it is better to keep everything in your car healthy and hygienic. With steam cleaning, you can easily eliminate these mites not only in your car but also in your mattresses, pillows and other household items.


Does steam cleaning remove stains from car seats?

Steam cleaning is a simple and effective way of removing stains from car seats. The high-pressure steam cleaners loosen the stains and dirt from the seat fabric which can be suede or leather. You don’t always have to go to a retailer to get it professionally cleaned. Having the right type of steam cleaner is enough. Steam cleaning is also the best way to sanitise your car and kill all the illness-causing bacteria.

Can you steam clean leather car seats?

Yes, you can steam clean leather car seats by taking some preventive measures. No matter how soft the bristles are, cover them with a microfibre cloth. Otherwise, you will end up with scratched leather. Applying a preconditioning solution made from beeswax, beforehand, is also crucial.

Steam cleaning is the best way to clean leather car seats because not only does it clean them, it rejuvenates and moisturises the leather as well. After steaming, make sure you do not let your car sit in a sunny area to preserve the leather.

How to steam clean car seats at home?

Steam Cleaning at home saves you money and will give you the best results as well. Make sure to get the best handheld steam cleaner that you can handle easily. By following the above guide you can easily get the best results without any worries.

Bottom Line!

To summarise, cars do get dirty pretty often. You definitely need to tidy it every now and then so that the interior of the car lasts longer. For that, you do not have to spend good money on professional cleaning companies. The pre-mentioned tried and tested methods are pretty useful. All you need is to invest in a good handheld steam cleaner.

Bonus tip: to get rid of chocolate stains and gum, use an ice pack. Place it over the stain for ten minutes, it should come off right away after freezing. If not, take a butter knife and scrape it off.


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