How To Easily Clean Your Car Rugs


I’m going to start off this post with a disclaimer. The pictures I’m using in this post are indeed cell phone pics and others with horrible indoor lighting. To be honest, I was just downright lazy. But you know what? I don’t really care right now. I’m in a different season of my life at this point, juggling four kids, preparing for hubby’s upcoming deployment, still trying to get settled, learning our way around this new base, and so forth. Yeah, the pictures for this post just weren’t on the “must be perfect” list.

I currently have a baby strapped to my chest because she refused to stay asleep,


and I have a mile-long to-do list that has two things accomplished. TWO! It’s nearly midnight and only two things have been done since the kids went to bed. BUT, they didn’t finally go to sleep until about 9:30 (even though I put them to bed nearly two hours prior). So, there’s that.

Anyway . . .

I want to show you how you can easily (seriously, so easy) clean your car rugs without having to break out any kind of carpet cleaning machine (which I don’t have anyway). I’ve used this method for the past six years, and it hasn’t failed me yet!

So, yeah, here are our van rugs before I cleaned them.


Before you go judging (which I know you aren’t doing, but in case you are), the last time these bad boys were cleaned was months before we moved. These poor guys endured a cross-country move and a long trip to Oklahoma, with about 6 months between the last time they were cleaned till now. Okay okay. You can stop with the “ewww gross” bits now.

Now for the cleaning! Oh boy! So, here’s what you need:

  • baking soda
  • spray bottle with vinegar
  • scrub brush
  • Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover (optional, but great for getting out the tough spots)
  • washing machine (and laundry soap, of course)

First, sprinkle your rugs with baking soda.


Next, take your spray bottle of vinegar and spray down the rugs. You’ll immediately start to notice the vinegar react with the baking soda, and it will begin fizzing. This is good!


Then, grab your scrub brush and scrub away. You don’t want to scrub too hard because the last thing you want to do is scrub that dirt even farther into the carpet. Basically, what you’re mainly doing is lifting off most of the surface dirt. See how much cleaner my car rugs already were after a simple scrubbing?


This next step is optional but is great for those hard-to-remove stains. Squirt Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover lightly over your rugs and rub it in lightly with your fingers. (The stain remover is non-toxic and uses natural ingredients, so it’s safe to do that.) You can find a bottle of this at Walmart for less than $3!


Seriously, this stuff is awesome! It removed a dogĀ urine stain from my friend’s white down comforter!

After letting the stain remover sit for about 10 minutes, grab your rugs and throw them in the washing machine! Put in your laundry soap and set your washing machine to the heavy duty setting on cold. You want those bad boys to get clean!


Finally, when they’re finished washing, let them sit out to air dry. (If there are still some remaining spots, run them through the washer for another cycle, and that should take care of them.)

I could have probably thrown the rugs through another wash cycle, but I had other laundry that needed to be done. Either way, look how much cleaner the rugs are, and I did minimal work to get them that way! If I had put them through another cycle in the washer, they would have come out looking brand new!


*Tip: For added freshness, spritz some diluted lemon essential oil on your clean rugs. Not only will your car look clean, but it will smell fresh too!

Have I convinced you to give this a try?

What are other ways that you have cleaned your car rugs?

For other cleaning tips, check out how to get rid of tough hard water stains!



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