It’s expected that the floor mats in your car are going to get dirty, especially if you have animals or kids. If you have floor mats in your car that are carpeted instead of rubber or vinyl, they can be much more difficult to keep clean. But they are important to maintain regularly since floor mats protect a vehicle’s more permanent interior floor surfaces from dirt, weathering, liquids, and everyday wear-and-tear.
If mud happens to get on your vehicle’s carpeted floor mats, it’s not the end of the world. With a little patience and a few simple household cleaning products, you can clean mud from your car’s floor mats, avoid stains, and restore them without having to buy new ones. Follow the steps below to learn how to clean your vehicle’s carpeted floor mats.
Method 1 of 1: Use a combination of everyday household items and optional tools
Always clean your car mats outside, not in the garage. It’s a messy business and it will save you further cleanup.
- Carpet cleaner
- Clean towels (at least two)
- Detergent (liquid)
- Eye goggles (optional)
- Extension cord (optional)
- Industrial vacuum
- Power washer (optional)
- Scrubbing brush
Step 1: Remove car mats. Always remove the muddy floor mats from your car before cleaning; you don’t want to spread the mess elsewhere in your vehicle.
If the mud is still wet, be patient and wait for it to dry completely. If the mud is not dry and you try to clean it, you will most likely spread it deeper into the carpet fibers, and/or expand its surface area, making the mess harder or impossible to clean.
- Tip: If you are unsure whether or not the mud is completely dry, it’s best not to test it. Lay the mats in the sun to dry and proceed to the next step when you are 100% sure the mud is dried and ready to crack off.
Step 2: Scrub off dried mud. Now that the mud is completely dry, use a scrubbing brush to begin breaking the dried mud from the carpet fibers.
Scrub the muddy areas gently and as much as you can, until no more dust is coming off. Hit the mats against something durable and sturdy, such as a pole or railing, to get the dust particles free from the carpet fiber.
You might want to wear goggles and a breathing mask while you’re doing this so you don’t get dust in your eyes or breathe it in.
- Tip: If your situation allows for it, prop the floor mats up against a wall, fence, pillar, or other vertical surface and hold it up with one hand while working with the brush in the other hand to allow the dirt and mud flakes to fall to the ground rather than having them remain in the carpet fibers.
Step 3: Vacuum the mats. Use an industrial strength vacuum, such as a shop vac, to suck up any of the finer dust particles left behind, or those stuck deep within the fabric.
If you don’t have an industrial strength vacuum, a regular household vacuum will do. Regardless of what type of vacuum you use, you might need an extension cord to be able to plug in the vacuum and use it from outside.
Be very thorough with your vacuuming. Dust particles can be very small and impossible to see. Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there. Depending on how much mud there is, you might want to vacuum up the mess that was left behind from Step 2.
Step 4: Wash with soap and water. Prepare soapy water with a strong detergent soap, such as dishwashing liquid.
If you don’t have access to a strong detergent, regular soap will work. Just use more of it than you would a stronger detergent soap when you go to mix it with water.
Use a clean rag or the scrubbing brush (after you’ve cleaned it from Step 2, of course), and work at any dirty part of the floor mats. Begin scrubbing lightly and, as you go, scrub more vigorously to get to the deeper reaches of the carpet fibers.
Step 5: Power wash the mats. When you’re finished scrubbing the mats with the rag or the scrubbing brush, use a power washer to blast the soap and dirt out of the carpet fibers.
If you do not have access to a power washer, a regular garden hose will work. If you have a nozzle attachment for the hose, use the setting for a thick, strong stream and spray the soap and dirt out of the floor mats.
Repeat Step 4 and Step 5 as necessary until the floor mats are as clean as you can get them.
- Warning: Power washers are very strong. If you are using one, do not point the nozzle too close to the carpet fibers or risk ruining/tearing the carpet fiber.
Step 6: Dry the mats. Using a clean, dry towel, dry the floor mats as much as you can.
If you can still see a stain in the carpet after you’ve dried them a little bit, use a foam spray carpet cleaner and follow the directions on the bottle for best results. Otherwise, continue to dry the mats as much as you can.
They must be completely dry before reinstalling them in your car to prevent mold growth, which will require you to replace them completely and which might spread to other areas in your car. If you do not have the power of the sun, set them to dry in a safe place in your house or garage until they are completely dry.
Always remember that you must have patience to make sure the mud dries completely before you begin the cleaning process. This is the first and most important step to ensuring that your vehicle’s carpeting comes out clean. With a little patience and elbow grease, you can have floor mats that make your car a much cleaner place to be. Ask a Mechanic for quick and detailed advice if you have any questions about the process.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Get Mud Off Car Carpet and was authored by Brent Minderler.