How to Protect Cloth Car Seats

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Cloth car seats are standard in many vehicles, and unfortunately they can be easily damaged or soiled with regular use. Stains, scratches, tears, and just all around grime are a few of the ways your cloth car seats can go from looking new to really, really gross in a hurry.

How to Protect Your Cloth Car Seats

It doesn’t have to be that way, however. With just a little effort, you can keep your cloth car seats looking good as new. Here’s how to protect cloth car seats. 

1. Vacuum your car regularly

The best thing you can do to protect your cloth car seats is to become best friends with your vacuum machine. If you don’t already have one, purchase a car vacuum, a shop vacuum, or any other powerful handheld vacuum cleaner. 
It doesn’t take long for the dirt, grime, debris, and contaminants to work themselves deep into the cloth, where they can cause damage or discoloration. Try to get in the habit of vacuuming your car about once a week, even if it doesn’t look like it needs to be vacuumed. There’s a lot of dirt and other grime you can’t see that contributes to the overall wear and tear on your car upholstery. 

2. Apply a car upholstery cleaner with regularity

Every few months you should apply a car upholstery cleaner to your cloth seats. To do so, empty your car entirely and vacuum it thoroughly. Cover the non-cloth elements of your vehicle with towels or rags, open all the doors, and spray two or three light layers of upholstery cleaner on all of the cloth and carpet. Let the car sit for an hour before closing the doors or getting in it.

3. Air out your vehicle

One of the issues with cloth car seats is that they can quickly and easily absorb grungy smells. To prevent this from happening, air out your car whenever it needs it. If you notice your car feeling damp or humid, roll down the windows or open the doors and leave the car for an hour or two to prevent mold or mildew from developing.

4. Use seat covers

Seat covers are a tremendous way to protect the fabric of your cloth seats. You can buy seat covers for not only the front seats, but also for the back seats, and you can install them yourself. By using seat covers, you’re basically adding a strong protective layer to your cloth seats and keeping dirt or other materials from getting to them or damaging the fabric.
Before installing your seat covers over the fabric, make sure that you’ve cleaned and vacuumed your car, and applied upholstery cleaner. You want to be sure that the cloth seats are fully clean before you cover them up with the seat covers. Whenever you remove the seat covers, you’ll find the cloth seats in the same condition you left them in.
Similarly, to protect the fabric along the floor of your car, be sure to purchase and install rubber floor mats.

5. Put towels down when transporting items that can cause damage

You can skip this tip if you’ve decided to install fabric protectors in your car. But if you aren’t using seat covers, then it’s really important to protect your cloth car seats against harmful items. Anytime you’re transporting something that could damage your carpet or cloth seats, lay down a towel, sheet, tarp, or other protective layer. You should do this if dogs are going to be in the car, or if you’re transporting something heavy and sharp that could scratch or poke holes in the cloth seats, or if you’re carrying something dirty. 

6. Make better use of your car’s trunk

If you have cloth car seats, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of using the trunk as much as possible. It goes to reason that the less you expose your upholstery and fabric seats to potential rips or tears or contaminants, the better shape your car’s interior will be in.

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