Cleaning Car Upholstery on the CHEAP!

Kids are messy.

So am I.

Which ends up meaning my house on wheels, the van, (aka the prison bus) gets really (REALLY) dirty very frequently.

A whirlwind of running around and a very festive July which included 4 birthdays within a month, a national holiday, a camping trip, Lake Michigan sand dunes and another beach outing made for a very sandy, sticky (because eating ice cream in the car is a MUST when it’s hot!), filthy car.

When I looked at the upholstery that hadn’t be cleaned (other than a quick vacuum) for MONTHS I almost talked myself into buying a new vehicle. But then it dawned on me that NO one in their right mind would want to sit in this thing, let alone buy it looking like this.


I thought that with the amount of staining and the time elapsed since it was stained (who KNOWS how long that was there) I would have to rent a mobile carpet cleaner. But I am cheap frugal.  So, why not try to DIY with good ol’ soap and water.

I normally keep a bottle of cleaner mixed up for cleaning anything and everything so I grabbed it. Sometimes it is LOC (from Amway), other times it is Basic H (from Shaklee) and sometimes it’s just plain Dawn. Today it Dawn and water. If I was to guess I would say I dilute about 32 oz of water with a teaspoon or two of Dawn.

I sprayed the seat pretty thoroughly and scrubbed it with a dry terrycloth cleaning rag (just a cheap Walmart bar rag, but any wash cloth or rag would would work). I used a dry one so that it would aid in drying the seat as I scrubbed. AND. IT. WORKED. I have used this method before but it was really bad this time.

2But it really did wonders. It didn’t ALL come out, but come on now, it’s Dawn not magic fairy dust.  And I am not planning on driving around royalty. Unless, of course, you mean the 4 year old with the crown and wand that sometimes sits behinds me and sprinkles food on the floor…

So I guess I am NOT getting a new car. Which is kind of a bummer because I have been eying the shuttle bus that the local nursing home uses. Don’t laugh; I am not joking. It’s awesome. And roomy.

So here are the before and afters:




3 thoughts on “Cleaning Car Upholstery on the CHEAP!

  1. I love this idea and believe we underestimate the power of good ol soap and water. For years now I have been doing this….I bought a big bottle of Bissel carpet cleaning solution at Walmart, the kind you would use in a carpet cleaning machine at home. I don’t know my exact ratio of solution to water…if I had to estimate it would be 3-4 T for a 32 oz bottle of water. I keep this mixed up and ready for spills and have used it in my husbands truck on the upholstery, IT IS AMAAAAAZING!!! And tons cheaper than buying it in a bottle already prepared from the store. Just shake well and use as you would Resolve.

  2. You did a wonderful job! I was thinking if you don’t mind the smell of vinegar; you could mix it with the dawn soap and it would probably be the very fairy dust you been looking for. I used it on my shower and all the nasty black rings completely gone! I think I’m going to give it a try you know with all this free time I have raising kids, cleaning house, and homeschooling! And yes I totally laughed about you eying the nursing home bus! We all need a good laugh so thanks.

  3. good to know! Our Mini van is getting quite disgusting and with 5 weeks until baby number 3 is due, I have that glorious itch to CLEAN!!! I’m gonna try it with my Mrs. Meyers cleaner

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