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Cleaning Car Mats - Here’s Some Top Tips From Our Experts!

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Posted by: EmmaH
Posted on: 09/10/2020

Cleaning car mats and van mats is the new going out!

“I’m going to give the car a good clean in the New Year.”

These are the words of every car owner over Christmas! We all have the best of intentions, don’t we?

Cleaning car mats can seem like a chore, but we have some top tips to get the best results.

Some of us have been saying it and some of us have been hearing it: “ The car mats and van mats will get a good clean in the New Year and this is going to be the year we take care of the interior!”

Giving your motor a good old clean, is not just about a wipe down of the dashboard. It’s not just keeping the windows streak-free or replacing the air freshener every few weeks. Cleaning car mats and van mats is just as important. We’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you achieve a great finish.

Before cleaning car mats

Remember to check your mats – whether they are rubber or carpet – to make sure that there are no holes or rips from general use. Holes or rips can cause issues when cleaning car mats. We would advise replacing any mats that show rips or tears, at the earliest opportunity.

Why do I need to keep my car or van mats clean?

Car mats and footwells are often the dirtiest part of your vehicle. The build-up of water, dirt, twigs and leaves will eventually lead to mould and rot in your vehicle’s interior. Car and van mats are there to protect your interior. But as our Mum always told us: “You need to clean the things that keep things clean!”

Giving your mats a good clean on a regular basis will help to help keep the inside of your car smelling fresh and looking good.

Cleaning Rubber Mats

Our rubber mats have a raised pattern, such as diamond or penny. This helps them to trap and keep dirt and water from running off. In most cases, a good shake of the mats and a wipe with a dry cloth can loosen up, release and remove most of the dirt. If dirt is dried on or being stubborn, you may need to wash and dry your mats a bit more thoroughly.

Four top tips for cleaning rubber car mats

  1. To give your rubber mats a more thorough clean, vacuum and/or brush down your mats before applying any water. This will clear off the first layer of dirt and remove any debris.
  2. Once brushed down, use a hose (ideally a high pressure hose) to apply a mild cleaning solution that is suitable for rubber. Use a clean stiff bristled brush to gently work the solution into the mat. This will lift and remove any residual dirt. Take the time to make sure that all the ridges in the pattern have been scrubbed. Alternatively, you can use a clean sponge and warm soapy water.
  3. Rinse down with the hose until all the dirt and cleaning solution has been washed off.
  4. To dry your mats, first wipe them down with a microfibre cloth or towel to remove the majority of the water. Leave them to dry naturally – not in direct sunlight. Leaving your mats in direct sunlight will cause them to fade, crack and become weak. Make sure your mats are completely dry before putting them back in your car or van.

Can I put my car mats in the washing machine?

Please remember, car mats are not suitable for the washing machine or tumble dryer! We recommend hand washing and air drying your rubber mats to avoid causing any tears or holes.

Bonus tip for rubber mats, and a word of warning… 

Think first before applying a vinyl or rubber protection solution to your mats. Some solutions will make the mats slippery and unsafe (despite any anti-slip matting you may have). It may also stop water from washing off dirt when you’re cleaning them in the future. If you’re unsure if a cleaning solution will work, please try it on a similar material before applying it to your car or van mats.

Cleaning Carpet Mats

There’s a little bit more elbow grease involved in cleaning car mats with carpet – but it’s worth it. Carpet mats are likely to take longer to dry than rubber ones. If they don’t need a full clean yet, you could just focus on one particular spot, rather than the whole set. The same method will work just fine for both. We would not advise washing and drying our carpet mats in a washing machine and tumble dryer. They have a rubber backing, which can get damaged if you clean them in your machine.

Top tips for cleaning carpet mats

  1. Thoroughly vacuum and/or brush off any loose dirt or debris. The more dirt you can remove at this stage, the easier the next steps will be. Depending on the thickness of your carpet, you may need to repeat this step a couple of times. You are unlikely to get 100% of the dirt off with this step alone, as some bits may be trodden deep into the carpet.
  2. Once the top layer of dirt has been removed, you can get to the real deep cleaning! If you have a carpet cleaner – use it! This is the easiest way to carry out this step. Alternatively, you can purchase carpet cleaning solutions from a supermarket or hardware store. They often come with a brush nozzle attached, like the linked product.

Alternatively you can just use a standard carpet cleaner solution and a suitable brush. You need the brush to work the solution into the carpet. Once you’ve brushed the solution into the carpet, rinse as required.

Just the spot!

If you’re cleaning just one particular spot/stain, you can apply your cleaning solution to a cloth and dab the solution on the specific area. Using a clean and dry cloth, dab on the same area to remove some of the excess solution. Leave to dry and repeat if needed.

  1. Once the mats are ready for drying, try to find a nice sunny patch. Lie them down, carpet side up and give them time. Sun-drying helps you to avoid a damp or mildew smell. Please make sure your mats are completely dry before putting them back in the car or van.
  2. If you want to go that extra step, go over your mats again with a steam cleaning vacuum. You can also apply some carpet freshener before vacuuming again with a non-steam vacuum.
Bonus tip for carpet mats… 

You can make your own carpet cleaning solution in a pinch! This works especially well if you’re just doing a spot clean. A lot of basic carpet cleaner recipes can be made at home with ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard.* You can also add your own essential oils to customise the smell of your cleaner.

Homemade Carpet Mat Stain Remover 

Mix together one tablespoon of white vinegar and one tablespoon of baking soda together to form a paste. Using an old scrubbing brush or toothbrush work the paste into the carpet. Once dry, thoroughly vacuum and repeat if needed.

Homemade Carpet Mat Freshener 

Mix together two cups of baking soda with 10 to 20 drops of your preferred essential oil. Sprinkle a fine layer of the powder over your mats and allow to sit for a few hours. Give the mats a good once-over with the hoover to remove the baking soda. This should leave your mats smelling lovely and fresh!

So remember to show your mats some TLC on a regular basis! Don’t wait until next year to give them a good clean again!

* If you have a specific stain that you need to remove, please check which of the ‘at-home’ cleaning methods and recipes will work for the that type of stain.

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