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How to Clean Vinyl Car Seats

Most people can remember the last time they washed the outside of their car. Fewer people can remember when they last cleaned the interior upholstery of their car. This is often more likely to be true if the seats are vinyl instead of cloth. Vinyl (like leather) is prone to cracking, especially during warmer months. Using water to clean vinyl seats can also lead to cracking over time. Fortunately, in less than half an hour, your vinyl car seats can look almost like new.

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  1. Vacuum your vinyl seats thoroughly, paying particular attention to any crevices or creases.

  2. Holding the nozzle about six inches away from the vinyl surface of the seat, spray the cleaning solution on the seat, concentrating on the more heavily soiled areas.

  3. Quickly rub the sprayed areas immediately with a sponge using medium pressure. If the seat is still very wet, wipe with the second sponge to absorb any excess moisture before moving to the next step.

  4. Apply a quarter-sized amount of vinyl protectant onto a clean cloth. Gently apply the protectant to the entire vinyl surface using smooth strokes and light, even pressure.

  5. Keep the protectant on the vinyl for about 12 minutes before wiping away any leftover residue with another cotton cloth. Continue applying protectant, waiting 12 minutes after application, and wiping the excess away until you are pleased with the appearance of your vinyl car seats. This may take at least two or three applications, depending on your personal taste.

  6. Tip

    Try not to let any vinyl protectant come into contact with your car's steering wheel, pedals or shift knobs. It may cause them to become slippery. Do not apply the vinyl protectant directly to the surface of vinyl seats. Doing so can create unsightly spots and streaks that will mar your finish. Always pour protectant onto a cloth before applying to the vinyl.

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Things You'll Need

  • 2 Clean sponges
  • 1 bottle of "Simple Green" or automotive vinyl cleaner
  • 1 bottle of Vinyl protectant (shiny or matt sheen)
  • 2 Cotton cloths
  • Vacuum cleaner

About the Author

Genae Valecia Hinesman, former banking executive, entrepreneur and fashion model, began writing professionally in 2002. She is a Cum Laude graduate of the University of Southern California where she studied business, finance and exercise physiology. Her articles featured in Living Healthy: 360, Life 123, the American Chronicle and Yahoo Voices.

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