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We’re in the home stretch of our Car Detailing 101 mini-series. If you’ve followed along for the past 7 episodes – first off; THANK YOU. And second, you’ve hopefully learned some valuable detailing lessons that should allow you to improve your own car detail projects. As we wrap-up the inside, one more detailing and cleaning task remains – how to detail car carpets.

Whether it’s your floor mat, cloth seating, or the car carpet inside your vehicle, soft textiles are dirt collectors. The ply of each fabric is twisty and designed to allow grip – so your feet or rear end doesn’t slide around when seated. This design also represents a challenge to automotive detailers, as that dirt and debris often gets stuck deep in the material.

So – without further delay, let’s hop into the penultimate episode in our Car Detailing 101 series. But first, as always, watch this awesome video by Adam Cote to review a visual on how this is completed.

Step 1 – Gather the Tools & Supplies

As the saying goes – if you’re going to do something, do it right the first time. This time-tested mantra is applicable to interior detailing and deep-cleaning your cars carpets and mats. To accomplish this, you’re going to need more than an all-purpose degreaser and scrub brush to clean your upholstery and car carpet surfaces.

Here is what the team at 5-Point Auto Spa use to completely car carpet cleaner jobs of your floor mat and the floorboards.

A High pH Carpet Pre-Spray: Essentially, the pre-spray is an alkaline-based upholstery cleaner solution that helps to break down dirt that is trapped in the car upholstery or top layers or ply of carpet.

Scrubbing Brushes: There are a few different options of scrub brushes. The first is a hand-held brush, with a medium-grade bristle. The second is an attachment to a cordless drill. This one is round and works very well for getting into those stubborn stain and damage inside your car’s carpet threads and plies.

Industrial Carpet Shampoo: Contrary to popular belief, not all car detailers use automotive-only formulations. Most automotive carpets are similar the ones inside your home. Just make sure to verify that the shampoo you use will work with the carpet cleaner you’re using.

Industrial Carpet Cleaner: The machine we prefer to use is a triple threat machine.

  • Heater – The industrial cleaner has a heating element that will increase temperature to 250 degrees. It essentially creates a steam cleaning element, to help break down deep debris in the carpet fiber.
  • Spray Pump – To apply the cleaning formula, the pump will take the heated shampoo mix to the spray nozzles into the deep threads.
  • Vacuum – The vacuum attachment will suck out all the dirty liquid, pulling it from the threads and ply. You can – and should continue to vacuum the carpet until all water has been removed. This will help to reduce bacteria and mold growth. Dabbing the carpets with microfiber towels just won’t cut it – you gotta let them dry.

Step 2 – Remove Floor Mats from the Vehicle

If you’re going to deep clean carpet floor mats to remove tough stains – the first step is to remove them from the vehicle. Not only will this make it easier to detail, but it’ll give you a chance to keep them out of the car to allow them to dry completely. If you’re going to clean the floorboard carpets, proceed to step 3.

Step 3 – Vacuum Them to Remove Surface Dirt

Before you start to wash the carpets, it’s crucial to start by vacuuming them first. If you attempt to shampoo dirty mats with a cleaning product solution – and excessive dirt on the top layers or inside the ply, you’ll be making “mud”. Take the proactive measure of dry vacuuming the carpets first – to avoid this issue.

Step 4 – Apply Pre-Spray Solution

When the carpet material is free of loose debris, you’ll want to use your pre-spray solution. Like described in the video, this is a pH+ solution – that acts like a degreasing agent – helping to break down small, embedded materials trapped below the top ply. Don’t be afraid to apply liberally, as you’ll remove all of it during the steam cleaning or shampooing process.

Step 5 – Use Drill Brush to Loosen Up Debris

Next – grab that handheld or drill operated brush and get ready to invest some sweat equity. Start working top to bottom and continue left to right and scrub the carpets. It’s important to work forward and backward, as the ply has two, individual grains. Continue doing this a few times, but don’t force a lot of pressure on the brush – let the tool do the work.

Step 6 – Shampoo the Carpets

The final step of the detailing car carpets is to shampoo them. We like using an industrial carpet cleaner, as it will heat up the formula, use a pump to apply high-pressure to spray nozzles. The key is to understand that each carpet cleaner works differently. So, make sure to follow the exact instructions for the machine you use.

*PRO TIP: Don’t be afraid to complete this step a few times, but make sure to work both grains (meaning flip the carpets 180-degrees to clean both ways). Also – when you’re done with the cleaning portion – use the vacuum features (without applying more shampoo) to fully remove liquid from the carpets. This is especially crucial when you’re working inside the vehicle.

Finally – Let them Completely Dry Outside of the Vehicle

One of the biggest mistakes many detailers make is finishing the job, closing the doors, rolling up windows, and putting floor mats back inside before they are completely dry. This is a situation that allows bacteria and mold to grow.

Anytime you shampoo anything inside the vehicle – give yourself plenty of time to complete the job – by keeping doors open and windows rolled down. For extra drying, consider adding a de-humidifier inside the vehicle before delivering to the customer or driving the vehicle home from the detailing shop.

Protect Your Car Carpets with Ceramic Pro Textile

Shampooing carpets and floor mats can be time consuming and costly for many car owners. To reduce this issue, consider having a professional auto spa apply Ceramic Pro Textile ceramic coating. Ceramic Pro Textile is a reliable inorganic compound.

Ceramic Pro Textile modifies the surface of real textile or suede so that when liquids come in contact, it forms beads that simply roll off keeping the textile completely dry. For those with synthetic fabrics, our team of professional Ceramic Pro installers can use Ceramic Pro 9H, with a layer of Top Coat or Ceramic Pro Strong.

When you take the proactive measure of protecting the interior of your vehicle, you’ll extend the lifespan of your interior carpets and floor mats, provide excellent stain resistance, deliver a superior hydrophobic effect (reducing the potential of liquid coffee stains), and keep the fibers cleaner.

If you’d like to learn more about having your interior protected with Ceramic Pro customized coatings by car carpet cleaners, including those for glass, plastics, and leather, click the button below to request a free estimate.

Tim Charlet

Author Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet serves as the Pai Mei of Ceramic Pro Americas content management team. He also formulates and improves Americana Global detailing supplies, and serves as a Key Accounts Manager for Ceramic Pro and Americana Global products.

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