Unsplash / Grafis gosulsel

Clean floor mats are a terrific way to protect your investment in your vehicle. Dirty ones, on the other hand, defeat the purpose. They look bad and might not smell much better. That dirt and smell may travel and affect the rest of the vehicle. Considering everywhere your shoes and boots go in every season, it’s inevitable that those mats will get dirty. But you don’t need to settle for dirty mats. Here’s how to spruce them up.

Step 1: Preparation

Gather your tools

Get ready by assembling your tools and supplies. What you’ll need will depend on what kind of mats you have. For cloth floor mats, consider gathering the following:

A wet/dry vacuum cleaner

A bucket of warm water

Baking soda, laundry soap or any liquid soap

Car carpet shampoo and/or stain remover

Stiff-bristled brush

For cleaning rubber floor mats, gather:

Sponge or cloths

Hose or bucket of warm soapy water

Get them out

Whether your mats are made of cloth or rubber, you’re going to be shaking and/or vacuuming them and maybe even using car carpet shampoo or other cleaners. It’s hard to do that while twisting around the steering wheel, pedals, and seats. Also, cleaning products can leave a slippery residue. The last thing you want is slickness on your brake and accelerator pedals. Pull all the mats out of the car and give yourself some space to work. Lay them out on the lawn or on a clean section of a parking area.

How to clean car carpets

Once the mats are out of the car, take a look at the floor they were protecting. Take the chance to get rid of any loose garbage or things rolling around. If you brought out the vacuum cleaner, consider sucking up any sand or gravel that built up around the edges of the floor area.

Step 2: Getting the dirt off and out

Depending on how long it’s been since the mats were last cleaned, the dirt may be loose, ground in, or both. Pick up and give each mat a whack against your knee, a wall, or a post. You could even strike them with a broom handle. Protect your eyes from the dust and dirt that will fall away. While you’re holding onto those mats, take a moment to look for worn areas, tears, or holes. Damaged mats won’t protect your car and may present a safety hazard. If they are damaged, they should be replaced.

Once the loose dirt is off those mats, it’s time to get out the more stubborn dirt, grease, or stains. What you do next will depend on whether your mats are made of cloth or rubber.

Cloth mats

Here is how to clean cloth carpets. Use your vacuum cleaner to suck up loose dirt that has settled into the fibers of the carpet. Then, use one wet potion or another to wash those mats. There are several options:

Baking soda will neutralize odors from feet, food, and pets. Sprinkle some onto each mat, let it stand for 15 minutes or so, then scrub the mats clean with a damp stiff-bristled brush.

Mix some laundry or other liquid detergent with warm water. Dunk that stiff-bristled brush into the soapy water repeatedly, and scrub the mats thoroughly.

Or purchase a specialized product and be sure to follow directions on how to shampoo car carpets carefully. This may be the best option if your mats are stained.

Once you’re done washing your cloth mats, vacuum them again with your wet/dry vacuum cleaner. It’ll speed up the drying process, and will pull out dirt loosened up by your vigorous scrubbing.

Rubber mats

If some or all of your mats are made of rubber, a liquid option is best. Mix some laundry or liquid detergent in a bucket with warm water, and scrub the mats vigorously with a sponge or cloth. A stiff-bristled brush may come in handy, but make sure it won’t tear up your mats. If using a commercial product on rubber mats, use one designed specifically for the job. The wrong cleaner might leave surfaces slippery. Once done washing rubber mats, rinse them thoroughly with a hose or a bucket of fresh, clean water.

Keep in mind, your mats have two sides! The reverse side of your cloth mats may be rubber or studded to keep them from slipping around. If that’s the case, follow the instructions above about cleaning rubber mats.

Step 3: Put them back… but don’t rush

Let them dry

Don’t rush to put the clean mats back in the car. Let them dry fully in the sun, if possible. Putting damp mats back in your car might mean they don’t dry quickly or at all. Dampness can lead to odors. If time is limited and the mats are still damp, return them but turn the heat up for a while at the floor level so that mats can dry out as thoroughly as possible.

Location, location, location

When returning your mats, be sure to put them back in the proper locations. In particular, the driver’s side mat is likely shaped to fit around your pedals. Look for any hooks or fasteners designed to keep your mats secure. Take care to fit and fasten them properly so they will lay flat and securely.

Good quality floor mats that fit your car well are a good investment in protecting an even bigger investment. There are many options available. Keeping the mats clean will prolong their life, and protect your car. It’s easily done. For more information, check out: https://www.autoguide.com/top-13-best-car-floor-mats-and-why-you-need-them