how to get stains out of car seats

We have three cars in our family that have had their fair share of soda spills, dirt, pet hair, milk, and food items dropped on the interior upholstery. As a lot of the stains are deep down the usual method of blotting and scrubbing 1/4 cup of baking soda with a cup of warm water didn’t work.

In this mega-post, we will show you how to get out stains on car seats in an easy natural way and the tools required to give your car that professional finish.

How to clean car seat stains

how to get out stains on car seats

If you take your car to a steam cleaner shop they will get those stains out but it will cost you an arm and a leg. There are similar products available that are cheap and reliable so you can do it yourself.

You can also use vinegar as a natural cleaning solution which we will talk about further down in the article. For the best result, you will need a portable spot cleaner.

We have a large Bissell carpet cleaner at home so I thought why not try their new small Bissell spot-clean car upholstery cleaner.

The trick is to not push or rub the stain further in but wet vacuum the car seat stain out. If you just rub the surface, the seat is like a sponge so the sain will eventually come back again.

I was very surprised by how quickly the rear car seat milk, dirt, and water stains were removed. After soaking the car seat with the cleaning solution sprayer the stains came right out. You can actually see the dirty water pooling in the clear Bissell tank.

How to remove blood stain from car seat using spotclean Bissell
Clean water tank on the left and dirty on the right.

I was able to clean the whole rear seat using one tank. The front car seats needed another tank with a cleaning solution added to finish the job.

Bissel Spot Cleaner review

Bissell Spotclean auto review for cleaning car seats

Like all products, it’s best to read the instructions. The Bissell spot cleaner comes in a few different models depending on your application such as a pet cleaner, car cleaner, and home little carpet cleaner.

The Bissell SpotClean ProHeat Portable Spot and Stain Carpet Cleaner was the pick of the bunch and have some great features such as:

  • Tank capacity 37 ounces;
  • Heatwave technology maintains a consistent water temperature.
  • 3-inch vacuum stain tool for cleaning stairs, upholstery, and hard-to-reach places.
  • Deep reach tool removes embedded dirt and stains from the bottom up.
  • Eliminates pet odors and stains.
  • Removable water tanks for easy filling and emptying.
  • Comes with free cleaning solution.

After filling the water tank with cold or warm water I added the recommended amount of Bissell carpet cleaning solution to the water tank. There are water level marks to help you with the correct amount.

I then turned on the machine and used the hose trigger to soak down the car back seats. The water sprays out quite well and will reach around 30cm distance.

I then left the magic solution to soak for a few minutes before scrubbing the seats with the Bissell vacuum end. After a few minutes of scrubbing, I used a slow deep dragging method to suck up all of the dirt, blood, juice, food, and water stains out of the car seats. Yes, kids are dirty creatures.

How to remove water stains from car seats using Bissell car cleaner
Center car seat was cleaned with the Bissell Spotclean, fantastic result. Just look how dirty the side seats look that have not been cleaned yet.

As the hose and vacuum connection points are clear you can see the dirty water being sucked up into the wastewater tank. Very cool.

I then ran a clean towel over the car seats just to blot up any excess water. There wasn’t much dampness so the Bissell spot clean did a great job of collecting the excess water deep down in the car seats.

You can see all the dirt, oil, blood, milk, and crayon stains it has collected once you tip out the Bissell storage tank. Not a pretty sight.

Removing dirt blood, milk, juice stain from car seats

The car was left in the sun for a day to fully dry out before being used again. It was nice to have clean car seats again that smelled fresh. This was the first time in 15 years that these car seats were cleaned and they came up great.


  • Light unit with a long power lead.
  • Different connections for stubborn stains
  • Large water tank
  • Small compact unit.
  • Powerful suction motor.
  • See-through hose and vacuum brush
  • Cleaned every stain I had.


  • Needs a longer vacuum hose.
  • Slightly loud
  • Needed a smaller vacuum nozzle for hard-to-reach places.

How to remove a blood stain from the car seat.

Blood if left to dry can be very hard to get out of car seats and bed matrasses. The tip is to quickly soak the stain and prevent it from drying out.

I like to use a higher concentration of the Bissell carpet shampoo solution to spray directly onto the bloodstain. Oxy action formula also works wonders on tough-to-get-out stains.

Once the blood stain has soaked for around 10 minutes you can then scrub it gently with the bristles from one of the Bissell attachments. Continue to vacuum out the stain and re-apply some concentrated solution.

Don’t scrub too hard as you could damage the seat cover fibres.

How to remove water stains from car seats.

How to remove water stains from car seats.

If you leave the windows down on your car when it rains or snows your seats will get wet. This is not too much of a problem if you have leather seats but if you have cloth seats they will stain.

This is because the water will leach out some of the dirt in the seat and bring it to the top as it dries. This causes stain patches on your car seats.

Basically, water stains are caused by water passing through the fabric on car seats and collecting dirt as it moves. Once the water drys the dirt particles are left condensed in the fabric in different areas.

To clean water stains from car seats you have to fully clean the whole seat otherwise, you will be left with clean patches on the seat.

For a natural cleaning solution use 1 part vinegar with 4 parts of warm water. Spray down the whole seat and rub in well with a sponge or rag.

Use a clean cloth to fully dry the car seat down. this will transfer the water stain to the dry cloth.

For a quicker faster professional solution use a wet and dry car vacuum like the Bissell spot cleaner.

The only way to get rid of these stains is to re-wet your car seats with a carpet cleaning solution or vinegar and gently scrub the stain out. You can then use the Bissel spot-clean to vacuum out all of the dirty water from the car upholstery.

How to remove stains from leather car seats

How to remove stains from leather car seats

Leather is usually very resistant to staining. But if you have a white leather seat it can blemish over time. Often food or soft drinks can stain a leather car seat if left for a while to bake on.

The best method is to use a mild detergent or carpet cleaner solution mixed in warm water. Sponge down the area to be cleaned and leave to soak for a few minutes.

Use a dishcloth or microfibre cloth to clean the stain making sure to scrub deep into the pores of the leather. You may need to apply the solution a few times.

After cleaning use a towel to fully dry the leather car seat and spray down with a leather vinyl protector solution. We use Aerospace Protectant for our vinyl hot tub cover and leather Sea-doo Jet ski cover.

If it works well on leather and vinyl products that are exposed to the direct sun it will work well on your car leather seats.

How to remove blue jean dye from leather seats.

How to remove blue jean dye from leather seats.

Step one, always wash your new blue jeans before you put them on. This will leach out any excess blue dye from the manufacturing process.

If you still manage to get blue jean dye on your fabric, vinyl, or leather seats you will have to clean them asap. Steam cleaning will be best on fabric car seats. But the Bissell seat cleaner will also do a great job of a deep clean.

As for the leather you will have to use a high concentrate carpet solution mixed with hot water. The blue dye will leach into the leather and stain it so the hot water will help to wash it out.

After cleaning the jean dye from the leather seats you will have to protect the leather from cracking. This is because we may have just washed out some of the natural leather oils.

A good leather protectant such as Guardsman Protect & Preserve will stop your leather seats from cracking in the hot American summer.

How to remove milk stains from car seats

How to remove milk stains from car seats
Removing milk stain from car seat covers.

Spilled milk is complicated as it will embed into the car seat fibers and will stain badly. Flavored milk like chocolate and strawberry will add color to the stain.

Over time if you don’t remove it quickly it will dry out and start to smell bad. The only way to remove milk stain is to sponge it out as soon as it happens.

Vinegar is a natural cleaner and safe to use on your car seats. It won’t leach out the color on your car seats like some soaps will. Simply dilute the vinegar in warm water at a 1:4 ratio. So one part vinegar to 4 parts water.

Rub the solution in and then sponge off with a dry towel. Continue to do this until all of the spilled milk has been cleaned off the car seats.

A vacuum spot cleaner will do the job in half the time, they really are worth their weight in gold if you like to keep your car seats clean.

If you have really stubborn hard milk stains you could always use some mechanical help. I like to think outside the box so my long handle shower scrubber works wonders to loosen up hard milk satins.

How to remove mold from car seats.

Mold is a type of fungus so you can’t just rub them out. These small organisms can be in a range of colors such as black, white, orange, green, or purple. They can live and thrive anywhere where there is moisture content indoors or outside.

Vinegar is a natural cleaner and will kill mold fast. It is also safe to use on your car seats.

To remove mold from car seats mix up a solution of 1 part vinegar to 4 parts of warm water. Mix well and spray onto the mold-infected car seats. Leave for 10 minutes and then wash off with clear water.

Use a dry rag to sponge off any excess damp patches. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell as it will clear up once it drys.

Work out why you are getting mold on your car seats. Is a window leaking when it rains or is a water bottle leaking? Leave your car in the sun for a full day with the windows cracked 1 inch to dry any moisture that is in the car.

How to remove crayon from car seats

How to remove crayon from car seats

Crayon is a waxy substance that once embedded into the car seat fabric is very hard to remove.

There are two methods to remove crayons from car seats one is the hot iron method and the other is the WD40 method.

Hot iron method to remove crayon from car seats.

The idea here is to melt the crayon from the car seat and transfer it to paper.

Use a cloth iron set on medium heat and no steam. Use some writing paper or paper towel and place it on the affected crayon area. Iron the paper towel until you see the transfer crayon move from the car seat to the paper towel.

Keep using a fresh paper towel every 10 seconds or once you see the transfer happening.

Once all of the wax crayons have been removed use some water mixed with 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water to clean the remaining stain.

WD40 cleaning crayons from car seat method

WD40 is very good at breaking down way crayon from car seats. Use a dull knife to remove any large flakes of crayon. Spray WD40 over the affected fabric area and rub it gently with a paper towel.

Leave the WD40 on for a few minutes and then blot off with fresh paper towels. Apply more WD40 if the crayon marks are still visible.

Use one part vinegar to four parts water to clean up the WD40 residue and then dry out completely. A wet and dry spot cleaner works well to clean up moisture left in the car seat. We have even used WD40 as starting fluid.

Bissell Spot cleaner vs Hoover Spotless.

Both get excellent reviews online, but at the time of needing a portable car stain remover vacuum cleaner, the Hoover was out of stock.

At the end of the day, the Bissell did what it claimed it would. The Hoover Spotless is slightly cheaper and looks very similar. Shame it was not available.

Now that I have the Bissell I have found myself tackling a lot of other cleaning jobs like carpets, drapes, bed matrasses, and rugs. The Bissell upholstery cleaner has performed wonderfully.


cleaning car seats leather black

There is nothing worse than having ugly-looking stained car seats. No one wants to sit on a dirty car seat and possibly stain their nice clothes.

Do it right the first time and deep soak clean those car seats. It will only take around 1/2 hour to do all the interior car seats. Plus another few hours to dry in the sun.

The main methods how to get out stains on car seats are vinegar and using a portable spot cleaner. Use them together and get a stain-free car seat.

If you do need to use the car in a hurry just place down some towels to sit on so you don’t get a wet bottom.

Previous articleHow to Charge a Car Battery at Home Without a Smart Charger
Next articleHow to Patch a Vinyl Inflatable Towable Tube Fast


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here