steam clean car seats

Vacuuming from time to time and experimenting with different tactics and products on your car interior is not a wise decision. It can cause unsightly damage and decrease the vehicle’s resale value. However, steam clean car seats are helpful in removing stains and sanitizing your car. Ideally, steam clean car seats at least once or twice a year, but it may require more cleaning sessions if you have pets and children. Although you can clean your car seats by yourself, professional car detailing services can help you make your car interior like a new one.

A comprehensive guide from Auto Boss experts will help you know about the methods and steps to clean your vehicle seats.

Steps to take before starting the process 

Before starting the process, you have to check for the following factors:

Determine fabric types 

Different fabric seats are available in the market, whether upholstery fabric, carpet, leather, or vinyl. All have their benefits and drawbacks. But it is significant to determine whether you can safely steam clean car seats.

Upholstery fabric: You can clean an upholstery fabric if it has a water tag on it. “w” or water tag indicates that if a water-based solvent or product is used on it, there will be no color fading effect. However, the challenge is to understand the label. 

Vinyl or leather seats: You can safely steam clean leather seats as well as vinyl seats. 

Colorfastness test

Test your car seat fabric for colorfastness by cleaning a small area of the seat. Steam cleans a small portion of the car seats, then rubs it with a dry towel. Check whether the color appears on it or not. If no color appears on the towel, continue to steam clean the car seats. If a minor quantity of color appears on the towel, there is less chance of losing color. Use cold water to again check for the area.

Pay keen attention to the temperature of the seam.

The surface temperature of the steam should be between 160 degrees Fahrenheit and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. More surface temperature can lead to damage to your car’s upholstery.

You can use an infrared thermometer to measure the surface temperature after every few minutes. If the surface has low temperature, move the steam seat cleaner slowly. In case of a higher surface temperature, the cleaner is quick. 

If you lack an infrared thermometer, avoid holding the steam trigger to prevent overheating.

Tools Required 

  • A handheld vacuum cleaner 
  • Car interior detailing kit
  • A handheld seat steam cleaner.
  • Spray bottle 
  • Clean microfiber sponge, mitt, or clothing.


  • White vinegar 
  • Water 
  • Homemade stain remover or commercial 

Step-by-step method to steam clean car seats

Here are step-by-step instructions to steam clean car seats:

Step 1: Vacuum your car seats 

Vacuum your car seats

Start the process by vacuuming the seat surface using a soft bristle and non-metallic brush. Start suction slowly in shorter straight lines to suck the dirt from hard-to-reach places like edges underneath the seats or corners.

Step 2: Remove odors

If some unpleasant odors are present, spray white vinegar over the affected area. Dab the area with a soft microfiber mitt or cloth. 

Avoid spraying much vinegar over the area as it leaves a vinegary scent in the car interior. If you feel uncomfortable with the vinegar smell, Auto Boss experts suggest adding a few drops of essential oils with vinegar in the bottle. 


Related Article: What is Car Interior Detailing and What Are Its Benefits?

Step 3: Spot clean stains

Pre-treat protein-based stains before applying heat to the seat. If you apply heat over the protein-based stains, it will set these stains. 

Use a stain remover and a sponge to extract the spill. You can use a homemade carpet cleaner or commercial stain remover. Use a minor quantity of the cleaner onto the microfiber clean cloth. Blot this cloth into the stain, moving from the edges to the center. Remember, avoid scrubbing the stains. 

Blot more than twice. If the stain is stubborn, remove the spot completely. Blot the stain with clean water a few times to remove the cleaning product. 

Step 4. Prepare steam cleaner

Most of the car seat steamers come with special upholstery or carpet attachments. Install these attachments properly. 

If your car seat fabric is upholstery, use a cleaning brush. Use soft attachments for leather seats. Use a simple but new microfiber cleaning mitt to the nozzle.

Fill the tank with water, replace the cap, and insert the assembly.

Step 5: Sanitize the seats of your car 

Sanitize the seats of your car

Squeeze the handle trigger of the seat steam cleaner to produce steam. Push and pull the automatic upholstery steam cleaner slowly to clean your seats. 

Remember! Don’t wait for the car seats to dry. You must damp the fabric, but don’t wet it completely. 

Step 6: Ventilate your vehicle and vacuum clean again

Leave the car seats to completely dry. Seat steam cleaners use a small quantity of water to prevent excessive moisture. However, the upholstery can be damp from steam. Leave the car windows and doors open to let the car interior dry completely. 

If you observe the dirt and debris, vacuum your car seat again.

Things to remember

  • Steam-clean car seats remove stains, but excessive moisture on leather seats can cause damage.
  • We suggest using a fabric car seat steamer with a soft-bristle brush and vacuum. 
  • Start from the seat top to the bottom while moving slowly in straight lines.
  • Avoid using steam on metal parts because using steaming on metal parts can cause rusting.
  • Allow drying vehicle interior to dry for up to five hours.


Although you can steam clean car seats by yourself, it is a time-consuming process that requires keen attention. A professional car detailer like Auto Boss Vaughan can help you get a clean interior with the pleasant air quality of your car. Our experts maintain your car interior and exterior through specialized products and tools. Enjoy a pleasant environment of your car interior with our comprehensive car interior detailing services.


Can you wash your car with steam?

A steam cleaning will remove the dirt and debris from your car exterior in an effortless manner. No pressure or harsh rubbing is included in the process.

Is steam cleaning safe for your car engine?

Steam cleaning is considered an effective and safe method for cleaning your engine if it is done properly. Steam cleaning helps in removing dirt or grease that accumulates on the engine with time. 

How long does it take to dry your car seats?

On a hot summer day, seats are completely dry after an hour of steam cleaning. However, in winter, it may take longer.