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Old 06-04-2008, 11:48 AM
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Deep cleaning, carpets and seats

I just bought a 1990 Toyota truck and the interior is absolutely filthy. The PO had obviously never cleaned it, looks like he lived in it for the last 18 years. What is the best way to clean the seats and carpets? What are the best products?

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Old 06-04-2008, 02:50 PM
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re;deep cleaning,carpets and seats...

I know this will sound crazy,but,work non-pumice go-jo into the carpets and seat. let it work for an hour or so and rinse out with a wet,not soaked, cloth,blotting as you go. Put a fan on it,after 1 hr. repeat, rinse again,then use upholstery cleaner when it's almost dry,should do the trick. Tom
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Old 06-06-2008, 07:34 PM
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The best way to clean your seats is to take them apart, spray them with shout and throw them in the wash. Hang them and let them dry overnight. The best for the carpet is to take it out and spray with shout then take to the carwash. Soap the carpet down and rinse. Hang the carpet till its dry, it will take a while for the carpet to dry completely. The carpet will dry faster in the sun or with fans on it but expect 24-48 hours. The carpet will mold if you put it back in wet!
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:04 PM
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JMHO I can't imagine any cloth or carpet drying enough to re-install in less than a week. In any case, after cleaning, let it air dry as long as you can before reinstalling.
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Old 06-06-2008, 11:10 PM
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I clean carpets and upholstery for a living. IMO you should hire someone to do it for you. They will turn a several day or week event into a couple of hours. It will be safe, well rinsed and dry by the next day. I clean the upholstery in my truck once a year and every time I do it it looks brand new.
Having said that if you still want to do it yourself...carpet is very durable. You can take it out spray it with Shout or liquid detergent.Use a brush to work it in...dont scrub too much, just enough to work it in. Then spray it out with a garden hose. A car wash would work but save your self a few bucks. Rinse until its its good and clean and then take a shop vac to it. Hang and let dry. Carpet should dry fairly quickly if you vac'ed out the majority.
For the seats as said you could take them out but depending on the type of fabric it could cause shrinking...last thing you want is to have your upholstery 1/3 scale. You could use use the same shop vac technique here. Spray with shout...work to foam...instead of a garden hose this time go with a squirt bottle. Misting and vac'ing until you dont have anymore residue left. Done deal. With the cushions go slow, you dont want to get the padding wet just the cover. Good Luck, Nate
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Old 06-07-2008, 05:28 AM
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Guys, I would not have posted this if I didn't know what I was doing. I have done this for years and have never had a problem with loss of color, shrinking or anything else. If there was any doubt about my method I would not have posted this message. I have literally done at least a hundred cars for dealers in the last 10 years in business. I am an upholsterer and actually fell into this part of my business by accident. I tried this on an old seat cover once because a detail shop could not get stains out of a seat for a dealership. I do this for every one of my dealerships, retail customers, and also an occasional theft recovery vehicle. Automotive seat cover material is very durable and color fast. If there were any cautions at all to this I would tell you don't overload your washing machine! Two to three covers the size of a bucket seat or one bench seat cover at a time and make certain the plastic clips don't ride the edge of the top of the washer in the spin cycle or it will burn a hole thru the plastic. Also, OEM seat covers have a cheap pink or white membrane on the inside of the cover that the process will remove alot of so don't freak out when you see pink balls floating around in the washer. You can get it off the outside of the cover with a lint roller. There are not alot of shops that do this and dealerships love the results, their cars smell as fresh as a summers breeze!!!!!!!! As for carpet, it does take a long time to dry, most seat covers dry overnight if they are inside out but carpet...really the pad stuck to the back, will take days...two or three at least to totally dry. Laying it out or hanging it in the sun will greatly speed the drying process. Hang it over a A frame but good luck with lifting wet carpet!!!!!!!!!! I should have been more specific with my first post....sorry. Good Luck
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Old 06-07-2008, 07:56 AM
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You are absolutely correct as far as automotive fabric being durable, colorfast, and also will not shrink. The reason for that is that there is no cotton content in the newer automotive fabrics, they are all synthetic. The enemy of synthetic fabrics and also Velcro, plastic, and other synthetic materials used in car seats is heat. Your method may work for newer cars, but the older the seat covers are the less you should want to put them in a washing machine. The older the seat, the more chance there are natural fibers in the fabric or listings, etc. You do not want to put upholstery fabric into a washing machine. The reason for this is that the agitation will destroy the backing on the fabric. If you want to fill the washer with water and cleaner, soak the seats in it, hand wash it, and air dry it that's one thing, but actually washing it in the washing machine is not a good idea. How do I know this? From helping out in a fabric testing lab at one of the places I worked at. We did durability tests (like the Wyzenbeek rubbing test) on every fabric before offering it on the furniture we sold.
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Old 06-08-2008, 07:19 AM
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You are absolutely right about the older materials. Great input on this subject. On the furniture side, I think some of these companies must have thrown out the Wyzenbeek test judging by the way some of the furniture I see wears out so quick.
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Old 06-08-2008, 07:55 AM
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I don't think very many companies did their own fabric testing or do it now. Just one more unneeded expense in their eyes. Now they just depend on the testing the fabric mills do.


I have been looking over this thread, and I think we missed something obvious regarding cleaning carpet and seats. The first thing you need to do when cleaning carpet is to vacuum out as much of the dirt as you can. For that matter, you should vacuum the seat covers first also. If you don't, the old dirt and sand act as an abrasive when you scrub the carpet or seat covers. You don't want to cut the carpet fibers or abrade the fabric if you can help it.
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Old 06-08-2008, 06:34 PM
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Very true. A thorough pre-vac will remove 98% of soil. For the most part you are left with oil based stains and other "spills and spots". For oil based stains use solvents based cleaners. You can buy decent solvent based cleaners at most janitorial supply stores.
Older carpets may also have a jute backing (at least in homes not sure about vehicles) in which case you want to be careful of what is called cellulostic browning. This is where the color of the fibers will actually change to a nasty splotchy brown color. It can be treated sometimes succesfully with a tannin ( or acetic acid treatment). This was very common in old lighter color carpets as well as older fabrics containing cotton. Synthetic=easy natural fibers can= trouble and knowledge of fibers and chemicals should be known.

By the way...I didnt mean to say you were wrong about removing seat covers. I just meant that care should be taken to avoid certain things like shrinkage etc. not to mention fragility of older materials.
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Old 06-08-2008, 08:12 PM
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You are absolutely right, but there is nothing wrong with removing seat covers,or removing carpeting to clean them, but for the most part, the only seat in any newer car that needs to be cleaned beyond normal cleaning is the driver's seat.

I'm not talking about a newer car. Any older car needs to have the seats and carpet taken out and cleaned. Your suggestion about janitorial supply stores is right on the money. They have more and better products to clean most any stain, or do a better job on any level of cleaning. Your statement that it is important to know what the fiber content you are dealing with is right on the money. Unless you know that, the more generic your cleaning solutions should be. In other words: If you don't know what the fabric or carpet in your car is made of, you should use less aggressive cleaners to clean them. I am speaking in generalities. These guys who are professional cleaners of carpet and fabric know best. BUT: The older your seat covers and carpet are, the less aggressive you should clean them. I am not a cleaning expert, but I'm sure the cleaning pros will agree with that statement.
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Old 06-10-2008, 02:10 PM
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I'm just tossing my 2 cents in here, not being an expert on any of this, but after taking apart a couple of interiors, it appears to me that stains on the covers are rarely the extent of the damage. A nickel-sized stain on the upholstery can lead to a 2'X2' stain on the foam beneath - the backing mentioned in the above posts not withstanding.

My question is this - has anyone here ever tried any of the home carpet/upholstery cleaning machines to try to clean a car/truck seat? Our "steam" cleaner has a wand to force hot cleaning solution into whatever you're cleaning, and the vacuum draws it out - it works wonders on furniture. Anyone ever tried it on a car/truck seat?

As far as carpets are concerned, the shop vac idea is the one to go with. Get the carpet as dry as you can with the shop vac, then hang it to dry - it might be dry by morning.
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Old 06-10-2008, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
What is the best way to clean the seats and carpets?
Any used car that I have had, as far as the carpet, was to pull it and powerwash it. I have never had any carpet break down and aside from the normal fade, it will look good as new. After washing it, I just usually lay it across a sawhorse or two to let it dry. Do it in the morning and if the sun is out, it can be installed either later that day or the next day. Using the small scrubbers and such is fine, but it will not get all the dirt out. Depending on the seat type (if it is not glued to the foam) undo the hogrings, pull the covers off and toss them in the washer. Doing that makes for a long day with dismantling and re-ringing the seats, but well worth it in the longrun
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Old 06-10-2008, 03:16 PM
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One other thing I do is if the foam cushion is really bad I will wrap in it plastic that I use on boat cushions to keep the stains in the cushion from ever coming back thru the cover.
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Old 06-10-2008, 03:18 PM
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Once again, while throwing them in the washing machine is tempting, you can really damage the backing on upholstery material that way. See post #7. Auto carpet is extremely tough, so just about any method will work.
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