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Auto Upholstery Tips: How to Clean Auto Upholstery Efficiently

What is Upholstery? Before discussing Auto Upholstery, let’s talk about the word Upholstery! What does the term Upholstery mean? Well, …

What is Upholstery?

Before discussing Auto Upholstery, let’s talk about the word Upholstery! What does the term Upholstery mean?

Well, the term upholstery was introduced in upgrading or molding old sofa into new by changing; leather top, adding more to cushions, replacing old springs with new, and adding new looks to its general appearance. It used to refer for your home sofas, chairs or your auto seats.

What is Auto Upholstery ?
Auto Upholstery Guide

It has now grown widely covering home furniture, curtains, auto detailing including interior and body paint other than legendary sofa upgrade. And now as expanding more to its meaning is commonly in use for remodeling boats and small aircraft for the same, adding the alteration of fiber body to yachts. Okay now, let’s come to the main topic!

What is Auto Upholstery?

Upholstery is gradually changing its meaning towards auto detailing. In other words, covering the formation of old car seats into modern articulated seats, doors interior upgrade… etc
Auto Upholstery includes dashboard tops, body-paint, front and back lights customization, replacement of old tire rim with fancy alloy rims. It also deals with the replacement of old heavyweight engine with new efficient lightweight engine and much more.

Types of Auto Upholstery Fabric!

In Upholstery, many kinds of fabric are available to meet your budget and style. There are mostly two types of Upholstery Fabric, which includes Natural Fabrics and Synthetic Fabric.

Let’s talk in details…

Natural Fabrics:

Natural fabrics are obtained from fibers of plants, animals, leaves etc. The Following are the natural fabrics that are commonly used in Upholstery.
1. Cotton: Strong, dim, fading, resistant to wear.
2. Leather: Very strong, useful and gets better day by day.
3. Silk: Better for normal use but requires proper cleaning.
4. Wool: Mixed with Synthetic and durable.
5. Linen: Resistant to fading and pilling, gives a better look.

Synthetic Fabric:

The Synthetic fibers are the textiles made from human-made rather than Natural Fabric. The following are the synthetic fabrics; Vinyl, Nylon, Polyester, Rayon, Acetate, Acrylic etc.

A Guide to Auto Upholstery Cleaning

How to Clean Auto Upholstery
How to Clean Auto Upholstery?

Application of the scientific method for auto upholstery cleaning is said to work well for enhancing the restoring the original aesthetics of the interiors. The entire process can be made simple by breaking it into steps. Start by inspecting the existing condition of the interior upholstery. This might give you an idea about the required cleaning materials and tools. If any parts need repair or replacement, you need to a make separate list of them. Here are a few hints for the procedures from the stage of pre-cleaning inspection to post-cleaning procedures.

Pre-Cleaning Procedure of Auto Upholstery

    • Inspect the interiors completely. You can start from the roof interiors. Check for dirt, stains, faded fabric and any other visible marks. Make a list of then. Check the interior parts for scratches, excessive peels, and nibs. Move onto the backseat and check the fabric cover and leather parts. Make a list of defective parts. Do the same for front seats also. Move to the dashboard and inspect the parts to be cleaned. Make a list of all defects you observe in steering, gears and foot controls. Finally, check the carpet and floor mats.


  • Cleaning each type of defect requires specific cleaning material and tool. Based on the cleaning tasks at hand you will be able to select them accurately. For example, grease and soil require degreaser, cleaning liquid and a hand brush. Scratch marks on metal and plastic components need wax, buffing material and polishes. The list can be split into three columns. The first column lists the cleaning task and the second column lists the corresponding materials and tools. Write the procedure for cleaning in the third column. If you are new to auto upholstery cleaning this may take some time. But you will be able to do it with some help from references.

Sample Checklist – Auto Upholstery


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CPU Cooler

Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black

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MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio

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Gaming and durability-focused, the ASUS TUF GAMING X570-PRO Wi-Fi will support you through numerous heated gaming and overclocking sessions without fail

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB

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Corsair RMx 850W 80+ Gold

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Go online and check for the cleaning liquids, grease remover, wax, polish cleaning shampoo, Upholstery Cleaners and other materials.What you see here is the sample checklist. Your list could be more elaborative with additional parameters also.


  • Gather the cleaning tools like vacuum cleaners (hand vacuums, standard vacuums), brushes, sprayer bottles, cotton rolls, steam cleaner and the others as required.

Cleaning Procedure – Auto Upholstery

Auto Upholstery Guide | A Complete Guide on Auto Upholstery Cleaning
Auto Upholstery Guide | A Complete Guide on Auto Upholstery Cleaning


    • Wear protective clothes while cleaning the auto upholstery. You need hand gloves, boots, aprons and safety goggles for eye protection. Avoid loose fitting clothes.


    • Start cleaning from the uppermost part of the auto upholstery in your car and move down. This procedure is recommended for ensuring complete cleaning.


    • For cleaning the vinyl and leather upholstery you can use the recommended cleaning liquid after diluting it. Follow the diluting ratio as specified by the manufacturer on the bottle label.


    • For removing hard stains you may need to spray the concentrated liquid. Let the liquid soak the stained or greased surface for about 10 minutes before using the cleaning pad or brush. If you find hard stains on steel or metallic surfaces it is better to steam it before trying to clean. This is said to be better than trying to use the brush as it can cause scratches.


    • Pay special attention to cleaning the dashboard region beneath the front windshield. This area might have vents for the AC, car stereo output etc. Use the sprayer with soft cotton cleaning pad to remove the dirt and dust from this area.


    • Avoid spraying the liquid directly onto electronic parts in the car. You can spray the liquid on the cleaning pad and scrub it gently on the surface areas. If there are vents and holes you can use the hand vacuum to clean.


    • Before using the carpet and rubber mats you need to take them out. You might find lots of accumulated soil and dirt on the floor. If you find any dry leaves and broken twigs, remove them with your hands. Vacuum the floor and steam clean it. Now you can repeat the same procedure for the carpets and rubber mats. Soaking them in hot water for about 20 minutes can make cleaning easier.


    • Brush the stained areas on the seats after using the liquid sprayer. If you find any torn parts on the leather seats you need to get them stitched before using the cleaning liquid. This will protect the inner cushions from getting soaked.


    • Soak the surfaces with hard grease marks with concentrated cleaning liquid. Then use the scrubber to eliminate the grease spots. In some instances, you may need to use the steam cleaner.


    • Check for any adhesive marks within the interiors of the car and on the upholstery. Use the adhesive cleaner to soak the surface for about 10-15 minutes (approximation). Then use the brush.


    • You can use a polishing liquid for taking out the scratch marks with a sander. In places with contours (door handles) use the pad. Take care to avoid applying excess pressure while using the sander. Apply fine quality wax polish by using the foam pad and scrub gently. You may need to repeat it more than once to even out the scratch marks completely.


Fabric Cleaning – Auto Upholstery

    • You can sterilize the removable parts of auto upholstery fabric like the upper seat cover, steering wheel cover, gear cover and others with medicated liquid. Soak the fabric for about 30 minutes before washing them.


    • Leather fabric can become dull in appearance due to regular usage. You can use the leather polish with a soft bristled brush to enhance the brightness. Make sure that you choose the same color polish as the fabric.


  • Cotton and synthetic auto upholstery fabric can be cleaned with normal detergent. Rinse them for about 30 minutes and clean them with a brush before drying.

Extension Tools – Auto Upholstery

    • Use the flexible nozzle of the steam cleaner to remove dirt and soil from the deeper parts beneath the seats. You may also use the extension pipes to clean the narrow spaces on the rear side of the backseat.


  • Use hot water /steam jets from the steam cleaner to remove stubborn grease and dirt marks from the door jambs and rear windows. If you find them difficult to remove, you can fix the bristled brush at the front of the nozzle to steam and scrub the parts simultaneously.

Homemade Cleaning Materials – Auto Upholstery

    • You may choose the branded cleaning liquids and products from online stores to make your task simple. If you find them expensive you can also opt for preparing your own cleaning liquids at home. Borax, vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, tartar cream and cleaning alcohol can be used to prepare cleaning products.


    • Take one portion of borax and mix with half a gallon of hot water. Add two teaspoons of vinegar. Your cleaning liquid is ready.


  • You can use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for stain and dirt removal. Mix one portion of them in three portions of hot water. You can spray this liquid and let it soak the spots for 10 to15 minutes before cleaning.

Post-Cleaning Procedure –Auto Upholstery

Once the cleaning is complete, use the dry air blower to remove the accumulated water content from the auto upholstery. Then you can clean the surfaces with dry cotton foam. Use the fresheners to remove the stink of chemicals from the interiors. This completes the process of auto upholstery cleaning.

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