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How to Shampoo Carpet in Car

Keeping your car carpet clean is an important and sometimes hard task to do. No matter if you drive often or just use the car for the weekend shopping, carpets on the car floors catch all the dirt from the outside. It’s a good habit to shake your feet before sitting in, but nevertheless, carpets do get dirty. In this post, I’ll share the tips to clean your carpet car with shampoo easily.

Step #1 – Remove the Trash and Large Dirt from the Car Floor

Before you start with the cleaning, inspect the floors. There will always be some larger particles that you have to remove prior. These may be leaves, food remains or some stuff you may have dropped accidentally (like lipstick!). After you’ve finished this process, go to step number two.

Step #2 – Remove the Floor Mats from the Car

To reach the carpeting which you’re about to clean, take off the car floor mats. It’s very easy to do, they usually just lay down or are held by the small floor hooks. Follow the direction of the hooks to set the mats free and remove them from the car. Shake the floor mats and leave them for a while, we will clean them later.

Step #3 – Vacuum the Carpet Floor

This step will help to remove all the dust and visible particles from the car floor. Make sure you use the maximum vacuum power and move the seats to the back to the maximum position. Collect all the dust you can see, paying special attention to corners and edges.

Step #4 – Brush the Carpet

Using a hard brush, go through the carpet to loosen the dirt that’s trapped inside. You have to lift the fibers and prepare the carpet for further shampooing.

Step #5 – Spot Clean the Visible Stains

Before you go forward to the full hands-on cleaning, it’s good to treat the individual stains, they require more attention. To do this, use a common stain cleaner like FOLEX Instant Carpet Spot Remover, it does the job well. Brush the carpet stain after applying the cleaner. You should leave the cleaner on the carpet for at least 10 minutes and then remove it with a stiff brush.

Step #6 – Deep Clean the Carpet with a Shampoo

First of all, you should choose the shampoo that you’ll be using for the cleaning, or prepare it yourself.

how to shampoo car carpet

Option 1 – Proven Carpet Shampoo

Select an effective carpet shampoo for the car. I strongly recommend the use of a special cleaner, such as this cleaner from Chemical Guys.

If you cannot buy commercially available products, you can also use the detergent described in option 2 below.

First, read the manufacturer’s instructions for the carpet cleaner. If it is a spray, spray directly on the area. The concentration should be diluted as needed, after that, you can use a spray bottle for ease of use.

Let the carpet cleaner sit for the carpet for a specified period of time. Then use a stiff brush to apply the cleaner to the carpet. Circular motion is best for getting rid of stains, grease, and dirt.

If your car carpet is very dirty, you can also use a steam cleaning technique to clean it more thoroughly. Alternatively, you can use a portable carpet cleaner suitable for your car.

Steam cleaners will put water and shampoo deep into the carpet fibers. Then they employ a lot of vacuum and suction power to remove the excess water, and your surface is almost dry.

Option 2 – DIY Car Floor Cleaner

If you don’t have time and money to buy a commercial carpet cleaning solution you can always prepare it by yourself at home. For this, you will need simple ingredients. This solution is great for removing dirt and stains from all types of car carpets.

shampoo carpet in car

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid
  • 2 cups of water
  • 10 drops of hydrogen peroxide
  • spray bottle

Step-by-step process:

  1. First of all, mix all the ingredients in a small bucket.
  2. After that, pour the solution into the spray bottle.
  3. Apply it evenly on the car carpet and brush it well.
  4. Leave it for a few minutes for the solution to sit in.
  5. Remove do-it-yourself carpet shampoo with a shop vac and make sure that your carpet gets dry.

Step #7 – Rinse the Car Carpet

After you have removed the cleaning solution, you have to make sure that the carpet doesn’t have any soapy residue. You have to rinse it well. To do this, use a wet cloth and wipe off the remains of the cleaner and excess water. Try to remove as much carpet cleaner as you can.

Step #8 – Let the Carpet Air Dry

As you know from the previous articles, leaving the carpet wet will cause the development of mold and mildew. That’s right after you have finished removing the cleaning solution and rinsing the carpet you should let it dry completely. If you have a chance, park your car in a sunny spot so the sunlight will help to speed up the process. Carpets in the car usually dry for around 1-2 hours. Check the carpets with your hand to see if it’s already dry, if needed – leave it for a little longer.

Don’t forget to check out our post on how to clean carpet without water.

Step #9 – Cleaning the Car Floor Mats

In step 2 you have already removed the car mats to start the cleaning procedures. Now it’s time to clean them. 

After you take out the mat from the car, place it on the floor; preferably on pavement, concrete or asphalt. Use a commercially available vacuum cleaner or a workshop vacuum cleaner to remove any visible dirt and grime from the carpet. Be sure to suck on both sides of the floor mat. You can also shake the carpet well to remove dirt, grime, and mud. 

  1. Clean the underside of the car mat. Turn over the cushion with the plastic bottom facing up. Put a few drops of liquid dish soap or hand soap on the plastic. Use the hose to shake off the dirt and activate the foaming effect of the soap. Use a towel or sponge to brush the mat. If the dirt gets stuck, use the soft-bristled brush. Rinse the mat once again with the hose, and then dry it with a towel. 
  2. Spray the car mat upholstery with detergent. Turn the carpet over with the fabric side up. For this purpose, use a carpet cleaning solution or use washing powder. Spray/pour an appropriate amount on the fabric. Use a hose and spray the cloth with water. This will help with cleaning. Remove any residues.
  3. Wipe the carpet fabric after cleaning. Use a medium-sized carpet brush to scrub the fabric in circular motions. In some places, more pressure may be required. Between the different areas of the cleaning fabric, you can spray the carpet with water in the process. When rubbing, rinse the cloth again with water until all soap bubbles disappear, and the car mat is completely soap-free.
  4. Dry the carpet and hang it up. Use a shop vac cleaner to remove excess water.


I hope these tips will help you shampoo carpet in the car without the hassle and effectively. It’s a multi-step approach, and if you know what you’re doing, it will save you from high cleaning costs and also lots of time.

Kira Iaryst
Kira Iaryst is the founder and editor of Mats and Rugs. She has over 10 years of experience writing, editing, and producing articles for renowned national publications on the subjects of interior design, home improvement, and cleaning/maintenance. She is also a trained cleaning professional with extensive knowledge in stain removal and carpet care.