Written by Tenley Haraldson. Reviewed by cleaning expert Sean Busch.
Mud, sand, gravel, tar, chewing gum, dog poop: The bottom of your shoes track a lot nasty things into your car.
We've already put together a guide to cleaning car upholstery, so if you're wondering how to clean car mats, our cleaning team is here to help!
How to Clean Rubber & Plastic Car Mats
Plastic and rubber car mats catch dirt and debris extremely well and they’re also the easiest type to clean (which is why we recommend them in all vehicles). Thanks to their waterproof materials, you can rinse them off easily.
1. Remove Mats & and Shake Them
It’s much easier to clean car floor mats once they're outside of the car.
Shake each one separately. We prefer whacking them against a driveway/asphalt to loosen debris. If anything is stuck to the surface, use a soft-bristled cleaning brush, rubber spatula, or a plastic ice scraper.
2. Break out the Hose
The water pressure of a hose should help to dislodge any remaining dirt or grime that’s stuck to the mat.
3. Wash with Soap (If Necessary)
Still spot dirt and debris? In a bucket, mix one ounce of Puracy Natural Dish Soap to 3 gallons of warm water. Either dip a clean cloth or a soft-bristled cleaning brush into the solution and get to scrubbing.
Pro Tip: While Puracy microfiber towels are perfect for pretty much everything, the one exception is cleaning anything sandy or gritty. These sharp particles will end up trapped in the towel and – even after multiple washes – can scratch paint and electronic screens.
4. Rinse & Dry
Use the hose to remove any remaining soap suds.
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Shake water off then rest your car mats at an angle against your house, garage, recycling bin, or even draped over a fence. Give them a final shake and make sure that your car mats are completely dry before putting them back into your vehicle.
Pro Tip: Don't leave them on top of your car to dry. They're easy to forget!
Can You Wash Rubber Car Mats in the Washer?
Never ever put rubber or plastic car mats in your washing machine. These types of car mats aren't machine washable nor can they be put in your dryer!
How to Clean Carpet Car Mats
Fabric and carpet really soak up liquids, and that means stains and smells. Though they aren't as easy to clean as rubber or plastic, these simple cleaning steps will make them like-new.
1. Remove Car Mats & Shake Them
Just like with rubber mats, remove your car mats before cleaning them. Shake each mat gently to loosen any debris and/or hit the rubber backside of the mat against a tree or a stone wall.
Vacuum both sides of your mat using the upholstery brush attachment (if your vacuum cleaner has one). In a pinch, air compressors with a blow gun attachment work pretty well.
3. Treat Stains & Let Carpets Dry
To lift stains, thoroughly apply our Natural Stain Remover and let it sit for at least one hour (the longer you wait, the better!). It’s the only natural stain remover on the market that includes all six plant-based enzymes which means that it can dislodge thousands of substances.
However you choose to clean stains out of fabric car mats, we walk you through each process:
Can You Clean Fabric Car Mats in the Washing Machine?
It may be possible to wash lightweight cloth mats in your washing machine, so check your owner’s manual or consult the manufacturer. If so, clean them in a standard top-loading washing machine, not a front-loader. That's because the mats are rigid and you’ll want them to soak in water while sitting upright.
Set your machine on a delicate setting, agitate, then press "pause" for an hour to soak. Follow with a pre-rinse cycle and an extra rinse. Once finished, lay the mats flat in the sun to dry. Never place them in the dryer, as this can ruin the adhesives that hold the mat together.
Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent is formulated with plant-based enzymes that help to dislodge stains and odors.
If You're Using a Steam Cleaner
Whenever possible, we recommend using a steam cleaner instead of a carpet shampooer. It only uses water and – when done properly – is extremely effective. You can also use a steam cleaner to sanitize home surfaces and clean everything from dirty grout to your living room (without any cleaning products).
If You're Using a Carpet Cleaning Machine
Most auto detailing professionals (and amateurs alike) prefer carpet cleaning machines for car floor mats. Ensure that the hard surface it rests on is clean and be prepared to hit it from multiple angles to avoid lifting the mat off the ground. Essentially, you should clean fabric floor mats the same way that you clean carpets in your house.
If You're Cleaning Car Mats by Hand
If you don’t own a steam cleaner or carpet cleaning machine – and you don’t have time to rent one – follow these simple steps:
- In a bucket, mix lukewarm water and our Natural Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo, according to the directions on the label.
- Soak a clean cloth in the cleaning solution. Rub the damp rag across the entire surface of each mat using a gentle back and forth motion. Re-wet the cloth as necessary.
- To remove remaining carpet shampoo, soak a clean cloth in warm water and rub it across the car mats. Regularly dip and wring your cloth in warm water throughout the process.
Removing Fresh Stains from Fabric Car Mats
If you're dealing with recent stains, it's best to tackle them ASAP.
1. Remove Excess
If you can, lift away the excess substance with a spatula or spoon. This will help you avoid pushing it further into the material and will keep you from rubbing extra grime into it.
2. Dilute & Blot
Diluting fresh stains with warm water will make it easier to remove them. Using a clean, dry microfiber cloth, blot the stain. Sticky or dark-colored substances may require a damp cloth. Alternate sides and continue blotting until the cloth stops picking up additional color.
3. Spray with Our Natural Stain Remover
Let the plant-based enzymes in our natural stain remover work their magic: Spray your car mats and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Stubborn and difficult-to-remove substances may need at least 8 hours. Remember: The longer you wait, the better the results.
4. Rinse or Use a Carpet Cleaner
Fill a bowl with plain warm water, dip a clean microfiber cloth in the water, and gently wring it out. Press the damp cloth into the stain and move back and forth with light pressure to "pull" the stain remover from the surface. Repeat until everything is “rinsed” from the surface.
Otherwise, break out the carpet cleaner and you'll get it done faster!
5. Let Car Mats Dry
Let damp spots dry naturally (preferably in the sun) before replacing them. If any stains remain, repeat the process a second time!
From Your Home to Your Car, Puracy Keeps It Clean
When you've got the right products, you won't panic when someone tracks mud into your car or has a "little accident" in the backseat.
Once you know how to expertly clean your car mats, you won’t worry as much when you can’t scrape all the gunk off your boots before driving off. Always treat spills quickly, keep plenty of clean microfiber cloths on hand in your glove compartment, and refer back to the directions above to leave your floor mats looking squeaky clean and spotless!