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How to Remove Water Stains from Car Upholstery in 5 Easy Steps

  • How to Remove Water Stains from Car Upholstery
    October 31, 2016

    At some point, you’ll probably need to know how to remove water stains from car upholstery. When it comes to stains, water is a common culprit. For example, water bottle spillages, accidentally leaving your car windows down in the rain, or wet clothes soaking into the fabric of your seats can easily ruin the appearance of your vehicle.

    If you think your car upholstery needs professional attention, download our Eco Car Wash Benefit Guide. It shares the secrets of how we achieve superior cleaning and sanitization to leave the inside of your car looking and smelling like new.

    5 Steps to Remove Water Stains from Car Upholstery

    What causes water to stain your car upholstery? As water evaporates on seats, it can leave behind mineral deposits that appear as dark stains. Also, water left to sit on car upholstery for too long can seep into fibers, causing stains and discoloration. Finally, if your wet car seats are not properly dried, it can result in mold and mildew, which leaves an unpleasant odor.

    Removing water stains from car upholstery can be a bit tricky, but it is possible with the right approach. Try to clean the water spots as soon as possible. These “fresher” spots are easier to remove than old water marks. Here are 5 steps you can follow to remove water stains from car upholstery.

    Step 1 – Vacuum the Car Interior

    A good set of car interior detailing tools, including a handheld car vacuum, will get you off to a great start. Remove any litter and belongings from your car, then vacuum the area thoroughly. It is important to remove any crumbs and dirt from the seats. If these particles come into contact with moisture, they can create more stains.

    Step 2 – Use an Appropriate Car Upholstery Cleaner

    Choose a high-quality cleaner that is safe for your car upholstery material, i.e. cloth, vinyl, suede, leather, etc. And instead of just targeting the water stains, clean the entire seat to get a freshly detailed look. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and always test upholstery cleaner on a small, discreet spot to ensure it doesn’t do more harm than good.

    For deep cleaning or difficult stains, you might need to take further action. Our steam cleaning technology will do the trick. Steam effectively dissolves stains, and it is safe to use on different types of upholstery, including luxury leather.

    Step 3 – Work the Cleaning Solution into the Water Stain

    Use a soft-bristled brush to work the upholstery cleaner into the material. This step will ensure you remove all traces of mineral deposits and leftover dirt and debris. Avoid scrubbing or rubbing the seats too hard to prevent damaging the material.

    You can also use a homemade solution to remove water stains from car upholstery. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the water stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, use a clean towel to blot the area. Repeat this process until the stain disappears. Again, test on an inconspicuous area first before tackling the water stain.

    A vinegar mix also helps to clean salt from car carpet. However, if you are unsure about at-home tips and methods, professional steam cleaning will give you peace of mind.

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    Step 4 – Wipe the Seats to Remove Water Stains from Car Upholstery

    Use a clean, dry towel to wipe the seats. Once the towel stops soiling, you know the upholstery is clean. Some upholstery cleaners require you to use a moist towel for this purpose. However, ensure you wring it properly to remove excess water. You don’t want a dripping towel close to your newly cleaned upholstery!

    Note, removing water stains may not be enough to eliminate persistent musty mold odors. Therefore, you will need to sanitize your car seats to restore your vehicle’s fresh, clean smell. And if cigarettes are causing an odor problem, not mold, see how to get smoke smell out of car interiors.

    Step 5 – Dry the Seats

    Allow the upholstery to dry completely. Open your car windows to speed up the drying process. You can also use a blow dryer or a fan to speed things up. We don’t recommend parking your car in direct sunlight as this can cause sun damage to the paint. Also, harsh sun rays are not great for your upholstery. For example, leather will fade and crack over time due to sun exposure.

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    Now you know how to remove water stains from car upholstery. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. So, always dry off any wet items before placing them on seats. Also, you can even add seat covers to protect your upholstery from wear and tear. Regular car care is important too. See our car interior detailing tips on sanitizing and refreshing your vehicle like professional detailers.

    If the water stain is extensive or particularly stubborn, your seats might need a deeper clean. And if you don’t have the time or the tools to do the job, DetailXPerts is just one phone call away! Our dedicated team will transform your car upholstery and deep clean your vehicle, inside and out. To learn how we achieve the deepest, greenest clean, download our Eco Car Wash Benefit Guide to discover what makes our auto detailing so special.

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    DetailXPerts is a nationwide mobile vehicle detailing and commercial cleaning company. We bring a greener clean. Our difference is industry-leading green technology. We use science-backed steam methods and biodegradable products to clean and sanitize on demand. And our mobile vehicle detailing service comes to you!

    Get in touch if you want to set up an appointment or have questions about what or how we clean. Our team loves sharing car tips and how we achieve safe sanitization with our steam-sterilizing methods. We write about auto detailing, janitorial services, fleet cleaning, franchising, and more. Subscribe to our newsletter and check back for our next article. Happy driving!

    This article was updated in March 2023 for comprehensiveness.

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