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How to Clean Car Mats

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Posted by: EmmaH
Posted on: 13/10/2022

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

In this guide we’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you get your car mats looking as good as new!

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.

What to do 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.

How to clean carpet car mats

A lot of people might not know where to start when it comes to washing carpet car mats, and may struggle to know which products are safe to use on their mats without compromising the durability of the carpet fibres.

There’s a little bit of elbow grease involved in cleaning carpet car mats – 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. 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.

Step One: Remove any surface debris

The first step to cleaning your carpet car mats is to remove any surface debris. Get your mats out of the car and give them a good shake, and a whack to loosen the dirt.

Once you have shaken off all the loose dirt, lay your mats on the floor and get your trusty vacuum cleaner. Give each mat a thorough vacuum to get all of those pet hairs, gravel, mud and debris off.

For any stubborn dirt which is really embedded into the fibres, you can use a stiff brush like this one from Chemical Guys to work all of that grit out before sucking it up in your vacuum.

Step Two: Washing Your Car Mats

Now that your mats are thoroughly vacuumed and all the surface dirt has been removed, its time to move onto washing your mats. There are a number of brilliant cleaners on the market that have been designed especially for use on car mats and car interiors. Some great ones worth mentioning are Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Carpet & Interior Cleaner and Turtle Wax Power Out Carpet and Mat Cleaner but you don’t need to go out and buy a carpet cleaner if you don’t want to, you can wash your mats with stuff you probably already have lying around the house!

Mix 2 tablespoons of washing powder with some shampoo and water, and use a brush to work the solution into the carpet fibres. Rinse with clean water and repeat the process if necessary. For any really stubborn stains, you can mix some baking soda with a little bit of water to form a paste. Work the paste into the carpet using a brush, leave to sit for a minute, and then brush off with clean water. Baking soda is also an odour neutraliser so it’s great for cleaning up any food or drink spills and stains!

I know it’s tempting, but don’t put your mats in the washing machine! It might save you a lot of work, but it will damage the rubber backing on the carpet, so avoid at all costs!

Step Three: Drying Your Carpet Car Mats

Once your mats are nice and clean, leave them to air dry. You can peg them on the washing line, or leave them in a sunny spot to speed up the drying time, just don’t put them in the tumble dryer!

…and there you have it!

Your car floor mats will be squeaky clean and looking brand new again! Now I know what you’re thinking; “this is a lot of effort to go to just to clean some floor mats, why should I bother?” Well, have you ever heard that saying – ‘You need to clean the things that keep things clean!’ At the end of the day, your car floor mats are what protect your car interior; if you don’t look after them and keep them clean, then they won’t be able to keep your car interior clean and protected!

Not to mention that the build-up of water, dirt, twigs and leaves will eventually lead to mould and rot in your vehicle’s interior – yuck! Now you know how to clean carpet floor mats, there’s no stopping you – let us know how you get on!

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.

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.

How to clean rubber car 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.

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.

Car Mat Cleaning FAQs

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.

How to Make Car Mat Stain Remover?

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.

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.

How to Make Car 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.

Why buy from us?

Car Mats UK has a dedicated team based in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, where all our products are designed and made by our experienced staff.  We hold the Made In Britain collective mark and are proud to do so. We pride ourselves on our customer service and you can see some of our happy customer’s thoughts on Trustpilot.

We also manufacture the best tailored car mats on the market, made from quality material while maintaining value for money. Browse our product range online today!



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