Auto carpet cleaning best practices - Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Auto carpet cleaning best practices

From stain-lifting to pet hair removal, this article covers all the basics.

It’s important to examine some of the more challenging issues we face as professional carwash operators looking to deliver a quality service and also turn a healthy profit.

Despite a lot of us using the latest in modern carwash technology, there are still problems that arise. Improvements in cleaning fluids, materials and equipment have made our work progressively easier. However, there are other issues that can affect the service we provide and, as a result, profitability. Many of these, such as the weather, are out of our control, but good training for your colleagues is the best way to make sure you overcome the cleaning issues that are within your control.

Regardless of the country your operation is based in and the climate the cars you wash are run in, the interior cleaning tasks we focus on below will be familiar to you, and you’ll be glad for our smart solutions. Whether you’re faced with a family car or SUV minivan, these pointers will help get to the bottom of those hidden carpet and pet hair areas.

The hidden carpet areas

Carpets are always an issue, especially when they have been neglected for a while and have built up many stains in the same area. Of course, not all stains are created equal, and while some are relatively easy to remove, there will frequently be moments when you come across a previously encountered stain. What do you do then?

Related: Interior detailing tips and tricks

Carpets in automobiles are different to carpets in any other location because they can be awkward to clean in a cramped space. Luckily, as professionals, this is what we expect to encounter in our everyday work. Stubborn stains are our bread and butter as automobile cleaning professionals. Try out one of these solutions to get some better results than those you’ve been getting using the usual cleaning solutions.

Carpet cleaning solution No. 1

This is a great carpet cleaning solution for stains from grease after any repairs, spilt coffee from the morning rush or spilt milk.

Related: How to treat automotive tannin stains

Mix one part dish soap (in its liquid form) in a receptacle with one part vinegar and one part club soda. Any club soda and vinegar will do but, for the dish soap, use something more fruity. This isn’t to leave a fruity fragrance in the car, but rather is more to ensure that any lingering odors from the carpet are eliminated and also counter the smell of the vinegar.

Try one tumbler of each ingredient to start with and pour the mixture into an old spray bottle so you can spray it over the affected areas. Let the solution soak in and settle for up to ten minutes before revisiting and scrubbing clean. The solution will have broken down the stains before you go over it with your cloth to wipe and lift away.

The area will take a while to dry so, if you have the equipment at hand, use a steam vacuum on the carpet you have just cleaned.

Carpet cleaning solution No. 2

This carpet cleaning solution is especially great on stains from drinks like blackcurrant juice and is more of a last-ditch solution if the previous solution doesn’t work.

Make a mixture of one part dish soap — again, in the liquid form — and two parts hydrogen peroxide and pour it into a spray bottle. Just like before, spray a generous amount onto the stained area and use your cloth to clean up the stain before steam vacuuming.

If the carpet is deeply stained, you might need a few applications, but in most cases the stain will come out on the first attempt.

Steam clean or shampoo?

The best way to make sure your customers keep coming back for more is by doing all you can to surprise and delight them each time they come to you. The feel of a soft, rejuvenated carpet is one of the most impressive things to achieve and certainly adds a “wow” factor when it has been a long time since the carpet looked so good.

After vacuuming the carpet to get rid of any loose pieces of dirt, the accepted knowledge has always been to use either a steam cleaner or carpet shampoo to really get in between the fibers. The great carpet debate among professionals is always about choosing between steam cleaning and shampooing, and we want to weigh in on the topic.

Many see steam cleaning as being the best possible solution for getting a carpet clean and keeping it that way. However, in our view, the truth is that over time steam cleaning can inflict irreparable damage to the carpet. Our advice is that, if you are serious about your car care business, you should avoid steam cleaning and stick with good old carpet shampoo.

Related: Steam cleaning versus extracting

Heat extraction

Using carpet shampoo that is mixed with warm water and pushed through the carpet fibers will soften the dirt and eliminate odors. You can then use your vacuum to extract the water and the dirt together: heat extraction. This is a significantly superior treatment for the carpet and one that your clients will appreciate.

Removing stubborn pet hairs

We all love our pets, and with good reason. They are, in many cases, the most loyal friends we will have. However, they come with bad habits. One of them is their outright refusal to keep their hairs attached to their own bodies. Instead, their hair, among other things, can end up all over the upholstery and carpet.

When it comes to pet hairs, you’ll need to try a few things depending on how embedded into the materials they are.

Blast out the dog hair with an air compressor. This should blow out many of the fine hairs, making them ready for you to further loosen by wearing a pair of nitrile gloves and brushing at the material. Then you can suck up the loosened hairs with a vacuum cleaner. If your gloves are covered in too many hairs and you feel you are adding more hairs than you are picking up, dip your hand in a bucket of clean water. Repeat the process if you can still see hair on the upholstery and carpets.

For the hard-to-reach areas, make sure you have a pet brush at hand. If this still isn’t convenient, try using a pumice stone. Sounds weird, but these stones are excellent for getting out embedded dog hairs. Just watch out for any plastic surfaces!

Having options available

Some of these solutions to common carpet cleaning problems we encounter in our everyday work may already be known to you. In any case, training your colleagues to deploy them correctly can only help to keep bringing customers back to your business.

Easy Cleaners is a cleaning firm with helpful resources and a blog on all forms of cleaning at

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