How to make car mats look new again

Cleaning Car Mats

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Cleaning Car Mats

The mats in my car took a beating this winter. I want to clean them up. Are there any cleaning products or homemade solutions that can help me clean my car carpets?

This Has Worked for 20 Years

I start with dry carpet or car floor mats with as much dirt vacuumed out as possible. Then I spray undiluted Formula 409® on dirt, grease, or oil spots. I then add undiluted shampoo on top of the 409 and rub it thoroughly all the way down to the base of the carpet with my fingers. Let the two mixtures sit for about 15 minutes and then rub the spots again in the same way with your fingers. To finish, just rinse it off with very warm water and hang the mats up to dry. It has worked for me for about 20 years, and I repair antique tractors and fix my own cars.

Also, if you have permanent marker marks on the plastic or fabric of your car, just spray them heavily with aerosol hair spray and let it set for about 10 seconds. Rub the mark off with a clean white washcloth. Repeat as many times as necessary. It leaves no spots where it was removed.

Get Rid of Salt Residue First

If the mats have a lot of salt (white dusty residue), I use a 50/50 white vinegar and water solution to dissolve it. I pour it on and scrub or put the mats and solution in a large laundry tub to soak for 10-15 minutes.

If the car mats have oil spots and general dirt, I use original Dawn® dish soap with warm water to scrub them down and rinse with water. I dry them out in the sun to also freshen them.

Power Out the Dirt

I remove them and lay them flat on the driveway. Then I spray them with a power nozzle on the garden hose to thoroughly soak and loosen up surface dirt. Next, I use Spray'N Wash or a carpet stain remover on them. After letting soak for a few minutes, I fill up a bucket with hot water and a few squirts of dish soap. Then I use this solution next with a scrub brush on the mats. To finish, I hose them off with power nozzle and hang them over a fence to dry. The mats look like new when dry.

From Beating to Better

With three kids and a big dog, my car mats take a beating. I take them to the DIY car wash on a sunny day. They have clips on the walls of each bay where I can hang the mats, spray them with the soapy water, and then give them a rinse. I throw them back in the van, take them home, and lay them out on the driveway to dry. They come out great, and it only costs a few dollars.
Jen in Rio del Mar, California

White Vinegar Works Best

I put white vinegar in a spray bottle. After spraying them thoroughly, I let soak a few minutes. Then I rinse them with cold water. I tried other products and they didn't work as well.
Lilly P.

Throw Them in the Washing Machine

Cleaning floor mats can be as easy as doing a load of laundry. I just put my carpeted floor mats in the washing machine and use inexpensive laundry detergent. It sometimes takes two washes, but they come out looking great.

Count on Cleaning Them Twice

First, vacuum both sides of each. Then use a new toilet brush to dry scrub them. Vacuum them again. Then use a good general cleaner like Mr. Clean®, scrub with your brush, and rinse. If there are any grease spots, buy a degreaser from an auto store and scrub them again.

Not an auto club member? Compare roadside assistance plans.

If you rinse and then spray with white vinegar and then rinse again with clean water and hang to dry, they should be almost like new. This may sound like a lot of extra work, but it's worth it. The vinegar will make sure all soap residue rinses out, so the mats stay clean longer.

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