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How to remove water stains from cloth automobile seats

With many people spending an hour or more per day in their cars, it's not surprising that the cloth seats take a beating. Spilt drinks and rain can cause unsightly water stains and spots on the upholstery. Fortunately, you can remove these stains with some simple products and a bit of elbow grease, restoring your car's interior to pristine condition. It's best to catch water stains before they dry, of course, but even old stains can be removed with upholstery cleaner.

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Fresh stains

  1. Stack several paper towels together to make a blotter. Place the paper towels over the damp water spot.

  2. Weight the paper towels with a heavy object like a large book or a paperweight. This will increase the contact with the stain and draw more of the moisture from the upholstery.

  3. Point a hair dryer on its lowest setting at the stained area. This will dry the area faster.

  4. Remove the paper towels. If a visible stain remains, hit it with a blast of steam (not water) from a garment steamer or iron. The stain should disappear.

Old stains

  1. Spray the stain with upholstery cleaner. Follow the manufacturer's directions and use a small amount; don't overdo it or it will take too long to dry.

  2. Scrub the stain gently with an old toothbrush. You can also use a washcloth or other rough cloth.

  3. Dry the stained area with a clean, dry cloth. If the stain is still visible, apply more upholstery cleaner and repeat the process until the water stain is gone.

  4. Tip

    If you frequently drink water in your car and have problems with stains, consider adding seat covers to protect your car's upholstery from spills, as well as other wear and tear.

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Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Heavy object
  • Hair dryer
  • Garment steamer or iron
  • Upholstery cleaner
  • Toothbrush or rough cloth
  • Clean, dry cloth

About the Author

Based in central Missouri, Rachel Steffan has been writing since 2005. She has contributed to several online publications, specializing in sustainable agriculture, food, health and nutrition. Steffan holds a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from Truman State University.

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