Our vehicles can be expressions of age and maturity. When you're young, your first car symbolizes freedom and autonomy. As a you get older, the meaning may shift to a pricey line-item, forever built into your budget for registration, insurance, gas, maintenance and car payments. However you view your car, all can agree on the value of a clean car.

The average American may own up to six cars in their lifetime. If you start driving at 17 and drive until you're nearly 79 years old, you may spend more than 37,000 hours driving throughout your entire life! Spending so much of our lives in our cars, it's important to keep them well-maintained mechanically with a well-kempt interior. A clean interior keeps you and your passengers comfortable, which you better be, since you might be spending tens of thousands of hours on the road.

Car interior upholstery and fabrics can be stubborn when it comes to keeping clean. Below are a few handy tools and remedies for common types of stains on car fabric and upholstery. We recommend testing these techniques on a small section of the area that is out of plain sight.

Tools - These items are always a great idea to keep in your car for stain emergencies!

  • Microfiber cloth and cotton rag or cloth (Stock up in bulk on Amazon!)
  • Toothbrush
  • Lint roller
  • Disposable gloves
  • Extra plastic grocery bags
  • Q-Tips

Ballpoint Ink Stains

  • Ingredients: Hairspray or rubbing alcohol mixed with water
  • Spray a touch of hairspray (or apply rubbing alcohol with a Q-Tip) on the stain and blot with a clean, damp cotton cloth to avoid ink spreading out further or letting it run and drip.
  • *Remember: Never scrub a stain as this just allows it to spread and set into clean fabric around the affected area.

Grease and Oil Stains

  • Ingredients: Watered-down paint thinner, salt and a cotton cloth
  • Lipstick or food grease can leave stubborn, obvious stains that set quickly. Put a little bit of paint thinner in a cup and add an equal amount of water. Be sure to test the paint thinner on your upholstery to make sure it will not stain or ruin the material. Dip a cotton cloth in the cup and rub it into the stain. Sprinkle the stain with salt or cornmeal and let it sit overnight. Vacuum this section of the upholstery in the morning or after it has been sitting for several hours.

Coffee and Soda Stains

  • Ingredients: Cold water, paper towel or cotton cloth and glass cleaner
  • Dilute coffee with cold water and blot with a paper towel. Apply some glass cleaner and let it sit for 5 minutes. Blot again with a paper towel to lift more of the stain.
  • If the coffee is still visible, scrub the upholstery with dishwashing liquid and rinse with warm water. Blot the area again with paper towels or cotton cloth. Dry the area with a hair dryer, holding the hair dryer several inches away from the spot to prevent heat damage.

Vomit Stains

  • Ingredients: Microfiber towel, cold water, mild soap, warm water, club soda, plastic gloves or bags and/or baking soda
  • If someone (or a beloved pet) gets carsick in your car, you'll want to clean it up as soon as possible to prevent it from setting. If you have plastic gloves or grocery bags, you can use these to cover your hands. Wipe up excess vomit and dilute the stain with cold water. Wash the area with mild soap and warm water. Neutralize the stain by pouring a small amount of club soda on a cloth and blotting it on the stain.
  • You can also use a paste mixture made of baking soda and water. The baking soda will also help to absorb the smell.
  • If you have a garage, you can leave the windows down in your closed garage to allow for ventilation to rid of any lingering smell.

Blood Stains

  • Ingredients: Cold water and microfiber or cotton cloth
  • Consistent with most fabrics, blood can be a tough stain to remove. Do not use hot water or soap, as this will set the stain. Soak a cloth in cold water and blot it on the blood stain. Rinse the cloth in cold water and blot again until the stain lifts.


  • Pretreat leather stains with a leather conditioner. Apply a leather stain remover on the stain and rub it in. Allow to sit for about 30 seconds and wipe off the stain remover.

Keeping the interior of your car clean and tidy keeps you comfortable, safe and maintains your car's value. There are tons of seat covers on the market, if you want to opt for an added layer between stains and your car's upholstery.