Step by Step Guide to Car Vacuuming

January 15, 2020
Jayson Mueller

You want your experience when driving to be pleasing, right?

Well, driving in a freshly cleaned car is one of the best ways to accomplish that.

We often times find ourselves eating or sipping on a beverage when driving or shuttling around kids who tend to spill, and some of this debris may get embedded in your seats or carpet.

One of the easiest ways to maintain that new car look is to regularly vacuum your vehicle.

Start by selecting a suitable vacuum cleaner for your car. Using a vacuum of high quality is crucial in order to get all the debris and dirt gone from your car.

Gather all the brush attachments that your vacuum came with so you can be sure to reach all the problematic areas inside your car.

You’ll want to have a variety of attachments. A narrow, wide and soft brush attachment is advised for a thorough cleaning.

Following this guide on how to properly vacuum your car can be both time and cost-effective resulting in a cleaner and healthier driving environment.

How to vacuum your car?

How to Vacuum Your Car

Step 1

The first task that must be carried out at the beginning of cleaning job is to open all the vehicle doors.

Opening the doors affords better access to all parts of the interior. By doing this, you don’t have to repeatedly open and close doors to vacuum select areas.

Also, this ensures better air circulation to let out stale, musty odors.

Next, eliminate any large trash from the interior before beginning and don’t overlook all personal items you might keep in the vehicle.

Step 2

Take all the floor mats out for later cleaning.

Give them a good shake to dislodge any rocks and mud that may be accumulated in mats.

It’s possible, some debris remains wedged in your mats and shaking doesn’t do the job, so vacuuming the mats might be in order to be sure they get properly cleaned.

Special care needs to be given to floor mats to ensure all the filth is removed. Floor mats suffer the most abuse in your entire interior.

Remove the floor mats from the front floorboards and rear floorboards, place them in a clean, dry area to be cleaned last.

Step 3

Carpet Cleaning Front

Before beginning your cleaning project, move the front seats all the way back to remove the trash, then slide them forward for vacuuming under the seats.

For vacuuming large floor areas, you should make use of the widest attachment. In order to reach below and in between the seats, you should use a thinner extending attachment.

Step 4

The first section to tackle should be the ceiling.

When you vacuum your house or your car, a bunch of debris will fall to the floor. Therefore, beginning with the ceiling eliminates the need to clean up a second time.

Vacuum in small segments, using the attachments to precisely clean each area. Once you completely clean the entire ceiling, work down from there to the seats. 

Step 5

Cleaning Car Carpet Deep Stains

Next, inspect the carpet for heavily soiled area or large stains that require special care. For these areas, you may need to apply a specific carpet or upholstery cleaner.

Follow the directions on the cleaner you choose, especially the amount of time needed to absorb into the carpet. Repeat these steps until the stain no longer remains.

Step 6

Dashboards - always one of the most ignored surfaces when vacuuming.

Don’t forget to vacuum this area and then give it a good wipe down to ensure you clean all the grime that collects on the surface. Be sure to use a soft brush attachment to hit the other overlooked areas like visors, display console and doors.

Step 7

Vacuuming Beside The Seat

To properly clean in-between the seats, you may need a thin attachment or use a soft brush attachment.

To remove any dirt, dust, hair, or other debris fragments, run the vacuum sideways and lengthways across seats and seat backs.

Using the slim attachment helps eliminate any muck from the smaller, hard to reach crannies in your seats.

Be sure to recline the seat all the way back to reach inside the crevasses.

Always use caution while vacuuming any leather seats as excessive vacuuming can scratch leather upholstery.

Press the vacuum lightly down through the lower cushions in order to get out the dirt between cracks. Double-check that the seat interiors and creases are clean, as these are the spaces where dirt and crumbs can collect.

Step 8

Now the floorboards.

For best effects, work from the middle to the doors, vacuuming the carpet in multiple directions with a brush attachment.

Repeat this a number of times to completely remove all filth from the carpet. Be sure to slide the seats back and forward to hit every area of the floor. Then, use the same practice for the back floorboards.

Step 9

floor mats finished vacuuming

Back to those floor mats.

First, you’ll want to shake them out again before vacuuming. Then, working in small sections, run the vacuum over them thoroughly.

Before inserting them back in the vehicle, check the backside of the mats to be sure nothing is attached. Finally, replace the mats back in the proper areas.

Step 10

Now turn your attention to the trunk or hatch area.

How to vacuum your trunk

Vacuuing Trunk

The trunk tends to be the most forgotten area for car owners. Your trunk gets filthy at a much faster rate than the inside of your car if you regularly haul around sporting equipment, shoes, or work tools.

Vacuuming the trunk is the same process as vacuuming the rest of the car so we won’t reiterate every practice but here are some basics :

  • Open up the trunk and take out everything. Toss any trash or large debris and set aside any items to be replaced before beginning.
  • As with the interior, start at the top and work down, vacuuming the whole trunk compartment. Repeat several times to ensure you clean every part.
  • Be sure to vacuum and wipe down any removable mats or liners before placing them back in.

What about seat covers?

Nobody likes to get into a vehicle with messy seats. Your car seats by and large take quite a bit of abuse over time and need to be washed regularly.

One of the easiest methods to prevent damage is to clean and condition (if leather), your seat covers on a regular basis.

Different types of car seats or car seat covers require different treatments and cleaning processes to suit the type of fabric or leather.

Some seat covers require special oils or conditioners to avoid any unwanted cracks and damage.

However, before diving into cleaning tips, firstly you need to acquire the right products that are suitable for your cover material.

Also, be sure to read the label on your cleaning product to check if it's suitable for use on your type of seat.

How to Clean Leather Car Seat Covers

Cleaning Leather Seats In a Car

Always remember that leather is a delicate material that can be easily torn or cracked if it gets dry. It should be treated with a great level of care and should be cleaned with a dedicated leather cover cleaner.

Here are some basic leather cleaning tips:

  • Vacuum the ceiling, seats and headrests to remove all dust and debris.
  • Once you’re done with vacuuming, sprinkle some cleaner on your seats as directed on the packaging.
  • Carefully wipe down the seat with a damp cloth
  • Allow the leather to dry without using any dryer, then check that no stains or soap spots are still present.
  • Don‘t forget to use needed oils for leather seat conditioning to bring its shine back and maintain freshness for a longer duration.

How to Care for Fabric Car Seats

Cleanign a Fabric Car Seat

Never use the same cleaning product for fabric covers as leather seats. Fabric seats are a bit tougher to clean than leather car seat covers so follow these tips to make sure that no damage will be caused:

Use a brush attachment to remove dirt, hair or crumbs from the cracks and from the rest of the fabric. This will help inhibit any dirt from tracking onto the fabric as you clean them

Prepare the cleaning buckets: Fill two buckets, one with warm water, one with cold water. Add a scoop of appropriate detergent in the warm water bucket and stir it well. For the best results, read and follow the instructions on the label of the detergent you choose.

Soak a sponge in warm water and gently scrub the individual seat cover with the detergent to remove any tough stains. But be careful, don't let your seat get too wet.

Cleaning fabric seats is much like cleaning your fabric sofa. Refrain from soaking the fabric too much or the drying process will take forever.

Once your seats look clean and are evenly moistened use a clean towel and dip it in cold water to wipe away all detergent

Let it dry under direct sunlight.


A freshly vacuumed vehicle speaks to the character of an owner, and this is why it’s essential to vacuum your car and remove all litter and needless junk.

A car with a dirty interior is not appealing to anyone, plus systematic vacuuming can maintain the value of your car when you go to sell or trade-in.

Following these simple cleaning steps will give you a newer looking and more attractive car with a well-maintained interior. Cleaner vehicles will also give you a more enjoyable drive, so preserve your car's interior and enjoy your ride.

Jayson Mueller
Jayson Mueller loves his house in the Bay Area. Over the last ten years, he's gone from theory to practice – researching the best upgrades and repairs for his house while trying to do as much as he can on his own. He's happy to help you make your house a home as well!

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