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Cleaning car upholstery

Anybody who has ever owned a car has probably managed to spill something on their upholstery. Kids with runny ice-creams, dogs shedding hairs, or a carelessly placed curry in the passenger seat are all hazards. Especially on longer trips, when eating and drinking in the car becomes the rule rather than the exception, stuff gets spilled.

A dirty car-seat isn´t necessarily only a cosmetic thing: The surface of car upholstries has folds and crevices in which crumbs and dirt can accumulate over time. When moving around in the car seat - and especially when getting in and out of the car - these particles may work much in the same way as sand-paper does, which causes the seats to wear faster. This, in turn, may cause a drop in value of the vehicle.

Top tips for cleaning car upholstery

First, hoover the carpets and upholstery as well as you can. If possible, use a small, powerful vacuum cleaner built for cleaning your house. "Dustbusters" and other hand-held vacuums are normally not strong enough, and the hoovers that are available outside of service stations are frequently full, dirty, or lack suction. If you don´t have a small hoover, it may be worth investing in one - it will come in handy around the house as well. Get one that has more than 1000 watts of power, and you should be all right.

After hoovering, a clear glass cleaner can get most dry dirt and granular stains (earth stains, smeared food) out of upholstery. Glass cleaner?, we hear you cry. Well, yes, actually: Glass cleaners have great cleaning characteristics, and will not leave soap and grease themselves: Many other cleaners will get rid of the dry dirt, but then leave you with a wet stain and soapy residue that is left in the car seats. Make sure you do not get one of the blue cleaners, however, as the dye in these may leave stains themselves.

Most "wet stains" be removed from most types of fabric with a liquid and salt: Dilute the stain with some water, and cover the stain with salt. The salt will pull the humidity out of the seat, and it will take the stain with it. Repeat as necessary. If water does not do the trick to dissolve the stain, hairspray or paint thinner (try on an inconspicuous part of your upholstery first, of course, to make sure the chemicals do not cause more damage than the stain itself) with a layer of salt on top may do the trick. For particularly stubborn stains, try a solution of vinegar and dishwashing liquid in a bucket of water.

If someone is carsick inside the car, obviously remove the sick as soon as possible, but also neutralise the stain with baking soda and water as soon as possible: Vomit can be very acidic, and the acid may cause some serious grief and miscolouring of the upholstery.

Blood stains can be removed from upholstery and carpets by dissolving the stains with some water, and pouring laundry detergent over the wet stain. Rub gently, and watch the stains disappear. Remember to clean the upholstery normally afterward: you do not want the soapy and possibly allergy-inducing detergent to cause problems later.

If all else fails, we have to bring out the big guns: rent a steam-cleaner from your local machine-rental shop, and clean your interior according to the cleaning manufacturer´s instructions.

By Haje Jan Kamps,

Askaprice staff reporter