How to clean a very dirty car carpet

Updated February 21, 2017

Between eating on the run and rainy weather causing muddy shoes, your car's carpet has taken a bit of abuse lately. While dirty carpet isn't a driving hazard, it can be if it's so dirty that it's diverting your attention. Though the chore may seem monumental as pine needles and stains taunt you from the floorboard, it's really not as bad as it seems if you invest the minimal time needed to clean it.

Remove the floor mats and clean out any trash that may be littering your car's carpet and discard it.

Vacuum the carpet with a wet/dry vac or use one of the vacuum cleaners at your local car wash or petrol station. Remove as much of the loose dirt and debris as possible.

Pour a quarter cup of a grease-cutting, bleach-free dish soap and a quarter cup of white vinegar into a spray bottle.

Fill the spray bottle the rest of the way with hot water.

Spray the solution onto the carpet to lightly soak the entire area. If your carpet has heavy stains, spray those first with the solution and allow them to soak at least 10 minutes before spraying the rest of the carpet.

Dip a clean nylon brush in clean hot water.

Scrub the carpet with the brush. You should see a light foam cover the surface of the carpet.

Vacuum the carpet again with a wet/dry vac to remove the suds and excess dirt.

Leave the windows down and allow the carpet to air dry. If your car's carpet has developed an odour, sprinkle baking soda onto the wet carpet liberally. The baking soda will help to draw moisture and odours out of the carpet. Vacuum it up when the carpet is dry.


Wash the floor mats the same way you wash the carpet and don't put them back into the car until the carpet and the mats are dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Wet/dry vac
  • Spray bottle
  • Grease cutting bleach free dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Nylon brush
  • Baking soda
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