How To Clean Your Car Mats: Step By Step Guide

car mats cleaning

Your car’s floor mats go through a lot over the years of owning a car. You get in and out of your car each and every day, attracting more and more dirt onto your car mats.

Car mats often are neglected in the automotive industry, especially as us humans have got busy lives and not enough time to clean our mats right?

Do you ever wonder what that new car smell actually smells like?

Remember when you was first buying your car, or even searching a car’s showroom, you’d jump in and it was that one distinct smell that you never forgot!

Cleaning car mats and rubber mats can be quite a challenging task, you might not know how to go about doing it…

And you can’t just throw and kind of random chemical onto your car mats – it won’t work and could damage them.

How To Prepare To Clean Your Car Mats

The first thing you’re going to need to do in order to bring some fresh like back to your car mats is to prepare them for a deep clean.

In our process of cleaning your car mats, whether they’re made of rubber or another type of material we’re going to be using water on them, so:

  • Remove your mats from your car, we’ll be using water on them and will be giving them a good deep clean or scrubbing – you’ll need space for this and can’t clean whilst stuck on your knees by your car.
  • Clean your mats outside – once removed from your vehicle, you’ll want to give them a good shake, be careful when shaking your car mats as you don’t want to get any debris that might be on them into your eyes.

You can clean your car mats anywhere, at a petrol station, at home, in a car park, wherever, so long as you follow some basic common sense when cleaning them.

I’d recommend cleaning mats at home though as you’ll have access to some hot water, and this can do wonders when removing stains and marks from mats.

You’ll Need To Vacuum Cloth Floor Mats First.

cleaning car

After you’ve prepared your mats, make sure to vacuum your cloth floor mats before proceeding with the next step in the process.

Vacuuming rubber car mats could be a little challenging, this is why I recommend vacuuming the cloth mats first.

  • If your car floor mats are damp, you could try to use some baking soda from the house to absorb some initial water from your mats, otherwise, leave the dampest ones to the side whilst you work on cleaning the dry mats.
  • Time to vacuum – the part you’ve been waiting for, actually using the hoover on your mats right, make sure to vacuum both sides of the car mats – not just one side!

Top Tip For Vacuuming Car Mats

If you’re using a cordless hoover, such as from the likes of Dyson or another brand, utilise one on the included attachments like the crevice tool, this will help get in between the fibres allowing for a deeper clean!

After you’ve given your mats a good vacuuming, and I mean it doesn’t need to be perfect at this stage.

Remember, you’re likely to never get your vehicle mats back to a perfect condition, and they’ll likely start getting dirty again within a few days of driving.

What I’m doing here, is giving you the process for maintaining car mats so that you can clean them time after time.

Shake Your Mats To Remove Final Debris

So you’ve already shaken your car mats once right?

Now that we’ve done that, vacumed them, we’re going to need to do this step again, and the best way to shake out your mats is to do the following:

  • Take care whilst giving your car mats a few whacks against the hard floor, this will help get some of the more stubborn dirt stuck out of them.
  • Use a hard brush to brush the mats, but take care, don’t brush them too hard and don’t use a wire brush.

You can take as much time as you need on this.

When I was cleaning my mats I literally spent a combined 2 hours, I didn’t clean them all in one day, and I certainly didn’t just clean my car mats for the sake of it.

I was cleaning the rest of my car and didn’t want to leave the mats untouched, I’m quite a solid car cleaning guru if you ask me!

What About Rubber Car Floor Matts?

Up until this point we’ve been focussing on typical cloth mats that you might find in your car.

And whilst this is usually the case for most cars on the road, your car might have rubber car floor mats instead, in which case, you can’t really vacuum them in the same way.

So, you might be asking how can you clean them?

It’s easier to clean a rubber floor mat than one made of cloth as they tend to be more durable in the first place, and you can take a good hose to them!

Use A Hose To Clean Rubber Car Floor Mats

When I say to use a hose, I don’t just mean any random quality hose, I mean a good quality one.

If you cheap out on a hose you won’t see the results that you desire, if you’ve already got a hose pipe though, read on:

  • Use your hosepipe to clean the rubber car mats, taking care that you don’t stand to close as debris could fly off of the car mats and into your’s or someone else’s eyes.
  • Try to utilise the different hose settings to get the best water spray pattern.

Make Sure To Apply Soap To The Mats

Once you’ve washed the mats with a hose, you can apply soap to them, make sure that when you’re applying soap to your mats that it’s a good quality soap.

You don’t want to be using a chemical on your car mats that isn’t designed for them, such as bleach.

The same applies to the other side of the story, basic water likely isn’t going to be enough – okay, you might be driving a work van, in which case water alone might be sufficient enough for you.

If you’re at home, on a Sunday afternoon not doing much, use this time to give your vehicle’s mats a good clean!

Let Your Rubber Mats Dry

After vacuuming, shaking, applying soap and giving them a good wash, you’ll need to give your mats time to dry.

How long will they take to dry?

This will heavily depend on how wet they are, and whether they’ve got any form of cloth in them or not.

I recommend leaving them at least 24 hours before putting them back into your car. You don’t want to be getting your car’s interior soaking wet.

How Do I Wash My Cloth Car Mats?

If you haven’t got rubber car mats and instead have got cloth car mats, washing them will be a little harder…


Put simply, too much water on a cloth car mat can cause some fatigue in the mats in the long term, so I absolutely do not recommend using a hosepipe to wash fabric car mats.

What you’ll want to do is this…

Get a bucket of water, preferably warm water and add a small amount of car mat cleaner from a well known or reviewed brand, about two cap fulls.

Mix it into the warm water taking car not to get too much of it on your hands!

Top Tip For Washing Cloth Car Mats

To prevent getting unwanted car cleaning chemicals over your hands, try and use some durable, latex gloves.

They’re not that expensive and will help protect your hands from the chemicals and dirty water that you’re going to coming into contact with.

Next, apply the car soap to the car mats using a brush, and start scrubbing!

It will take longer than washing rubber car mats, and this is to be expected, but the fresh new car smell will remain for days afterwards.

Not only this, but it’s actually inviting for when other people are riding as a passenger in your car, it’ll show them how much you care for your car and love your car.

Leave The Cloth Mats To Dry

Similar to when you’re cleaning rubber floor mats, you’ll want to leave your cloth mats to dry, you can leave them dry outside in a shaded area, or inside in a warm location.

I don’t recommend leaving car mats to dry in the direct sunlight as when your cloth mats dry, the fibres will be pretty hard and won’t be soft to the touch.

Like With Rubber Mats – Vacuum Your Car’s Cloth Mats

After you’ve given your floor mats a good scrub and a good wash!

You then need to vacuum them after they’ve dried…

The drying process can take anywhere up-to 24 hours so be patient, and don’t try to rush the process.

Take care when using your vacuum, and aim to go in either a horizontal line motion, or a vertical line motion on the mats.


Because this will give you the best looking vacuumed car mat even if you’re going to be the only person looking at them.

Finally, Give The Mats Some Extra Time To Dry

The last step in cleaning your car mats is to just leave some extra time for them to dry, even though you’ve already given the mats some time to dry, it can’t hurt allowing them to dry some more in the fresh air.

It will keep your mats smelling good, and looking clean for a long time.

It’ll also be good for the resale value of your car should you decide to sell it later down the line, it’ll show a potential new buyer that you’ve maintained your car’s interior, and have kept it clean!