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Automobile Carpet Care Tips

Vacuum Thoroughly

Vacuuming is one of the most underrated ways to maintain automobile carpet. To keep your car vacuumed thoroughly, invest in a hand-held vacuum cleaner. These small wet/dry vacs can work just as well as the car wash vacuums---at a fraction of the cost. When dirt and sand get into your carpet, this wears down the fibers, leaving the carpet looking ragged, dull and matted. Vacuum once a week to stop this from happening.

Remove the floor mats, and pick up any large items or coins. Start in small sections, such as the driver's side foot well, then work your way to other sections. Vacuum vertically, from one end to another, a few times. Then swipe back and forth, in the same section, to make sure you loosen and remove all particles.

Protect the Carpet

A good fabric and upholstery protector can keep stains from penetrating your carpet. You can buy one application of 3M Scotchgard for less than $20; other brands can produce similar results.

Test the fabric protector in an inconspicuous area before applying it to your entire carpet. You may want to start with a small section beneath your seat. Spray a light coat of the protector on your carpet, then lower your windows and wait about an hour for it to set. Inspect the carpet to make sure its color hasn't been negatively affected (a rare possibility). After testing, spray a light layer over all the carpet in your vehicle. You still must lower the windows and allow the product about an hour to set in and dry.

Shampoo or Steam Clean

You don't need to be an automotive detail professional to shampoo or steam clean your carpet. Hand-held steam cleaners are relatively inexpensive and can work wonders on soiled or matted carpet. Do-it-yourself shampoo kits are also available at a low price. Shampoo or steam clean your carpet every six months.

If using a shampoo kit or a carpet-cleaning solvent, spray the carpet thoroughly in sections, and wait 10 to 15 minutes. Then scrub the carpet with a medium-grade brush. Vacuum to remove the particles you have lifted from the carpet.

With steam cleaners, turn the device on and allow it to heat up. Spray a section of carpet using the nozzle, then go over the area with the cleaner to scrub the carpet and pick up the water. Since each steam cleaner is different, make sure you follow the instructions provided with your specific model.