How to Clean Your Seat Covers, No Matter What Type

BY MICHAEL D.

The ideal seat covers won’t just protect your interior from UV-fading, stains and more. In some cases, the improvement will be functional, offering handy pockets or pouches to store odds and ends. But, when time, the elements and your passengers have left behind too much of a mess, how do you go about cleaning your seat covers if the material presents a more complicated dilemma than any of the fabrics you typically throw in the washer-dryer?

This article offers a concise, clear breakdown of the various steps you’ll need to take with the different sorts of seat cover you’ll find on our site.

Canvas

First, vacuum the surface of your canvas seat covers to remove all dust, dirt and other debris. If some lingers, you might need to use a soft bristle brush. Next, remove the seat covers. Run cold running water over the canvas to wash away the filth, while taking care to avoid wetting the clean underside of the cover. Finally, dry it off with a clean towel. Be aware that over time, your seat covers may fade after cleaning.

Leather

Genuine leather seat covers can be cleaned with a homemade cleaning solution. First, though, you’ll want to vacuum the covers just like you would with canvas. In concocting your cleaning solution, be sure not to use bleach or any ammonia-based products, as this can damage the leather. Mix warm water and soap — plain liquid dishwasher would suffice. The best solution is about five parts H2O and one part soap. Once it’s ready, wipe your vacuumed seat covers down with this solution, then give it another go with a second damp cloth.

Mesh

To clean your mesh seat covers, you’ll want to remove them first. Second, hand-wash them with a mild laundry detergent — a brand like Woolite will do. Do not machine-dry these or use an iron, despite the fact that you may have done this for mesh shorts, jerseys and other items. Rather, let them air-dry.

Neoprene

Wetsuit-like neoprene is treated to resist UV-damage, mildew and spills, and is essentially waterproof. To clean these can be something of a challenge, as crud can really set in there. Uninstall them first, then fill a bucket with water and add wetsuit shampoo — we would recommend a product like McNett. Next, use a lint-free cloth to scrub and wash the covers clean. Rinse them off with freshwater, then towel-dry. Finally, let them air-dry.

Saddle Blanket

After a long trail-ride, you’d remove the blanket from under your horse’s saddle, whack it free of dust and toss it in the washer. With these one-of-a-kind, rugged-looking covers, you’ll first want to unfasten them from your seats and be sure to remove all hooks prior to washing them. They can, in fact, be machine-washed, but be sure to use cold water. Don’t machine-dry them, but let them air-dry.

Sheepskin

With such a luxurious material as sheepskin — whether synthetic or natural — you’re going to want to take extra care. One at a time, machine-wash these covers, setting your machine cycle to “wool” or “gentle.” Use lukewarm water, with a maximum temperature of 40°C/104°F. Use only Woolskin Sheepskin Shampoo or another explicitly sheepskin-specific detergent. Spin the excess water out. Once done, take them out and give them a light brushing to restore their fluffy touch and flawless appearance.

Suede

Just like you would a pair of suede shoes, blue or otherwise, you’ll want to first brush your seat covers thoroughly with a suede brush. Be exhaustive, and go over the entire surface in a circular motion to fluff up the nap. Kiwi Suede Eraser, which can be found in any shore store, will help remove blemishes. Again, use gentle swirling motions with the top of the eraser. Go over the covers again with the suede brush, then re-apply the eraser and repeat the process as many times as is necessary.

Velour

If your seat covers are velour, you’ll want to invest in a cleaning agent whose label specifically states that it’s safe to use on this fabric. Spray the cleaner directly onto your covers, then use a simple wet sponge to evenly work the foam into the velour. Let the fabric dry naturally, then go over the surface with a hand-vacuum to suck up any dried cleaner and lingering debris.

Vinyl

For a product as durable as vinyl seat covers, you’ll need to employ the same amount of ingenuity as owners of leather covers. Mix a mild soap like Dreft with fresh, warm water — about a quarter-cup of soap and one gallon of water will suffice. Then, you’ll want to dip, then wring-out a soft cloth or sponge in this solution, and wipe the vinyl in a circular motion. Don’t let water pool into the seams. Once you’ve done that, rinse the solution off with a second cloth, using clean water, in the same manner. Lastly, wipe those babies dry with a soft towel.