DIY: Detail Your Cars Upholstery!!

diy car detail

Clean the seats in your car YOURSELF!

Do you have kids in car seats? In my experience I have found this equation to be very, very true: Kids + Car Seats = Stains for days. The other day, I was cleaning my car out and removed the booster seats. What I saw mortified me. Stains, melted chocolate, spilled red juice, and the smell, we are not even going there.

I called around to some local car detailers and I WAS NOT going to pay almost $200 for someone to clean my seats. I have tried using my steam cleaner on them before and it only took about 3% of the stains away AND left me with water spots everywhere. 🙁 Not exactly what I was going for.

So I did some research and I found the perfect solution!  This really worked well for me.  You may have to tweak the amounts a little bit (but equal parts of each should get you really close!).

What You Need:

DIY: Detail Your Cars Upholstery!!

I grabbed a heavy duty spray bottle and added in equal parts of club soda, Dawn, and vinegar. My spray bottle was pretty big so I used 1 cup of each of the ingredients. Some of you are worried that this was too much Dawn, but it the amount that I use. You can try less if you’d like, and if you do, let us know in the comments below how it worked! Make sure to shake it pretty good to get it all mixed up.

Spray the stains and let the mixture sit for a few minutes. I let it sit about 3 because I am impatient as heck.

Take your scrub brush and brush in circles on the stains.  This is where you are going to be wondering if it’s worth the $200 to have your car detailed.  But I’m not afraid of a little hard work, and I did it on an “arms” day, so I got to skip part of my workout!

Now use your shop vac or steam cleaner with ONLY water in it to “rinse” out the seats. If you have the shop vac, I would spray water on the seats and then suck up the mixture.

Let the seats dry and get ready to be amazed.

My car did smell like vinegar or about 2 days. It was totally worth it though. You could use an essential oil to help the smell!  The purification blend or something citrus would be great choices!  Be wise with your choices of oils those.  Some aren’t pure and will stain your hard work!  If you want more information on the oils we recommend, email us at!

DIY: Detail Your Cars Upholstery!!


  • Jessica

    I wonder if you could get the same result using rubbing alcohol instead of vinegar? The smell will evaporate much quicker.

  • Lilli torbert

    Can you use this to clean your headliner? Thanks.

  • angela

    What kind of club soda did u use?

  • adele

    what is club soda? I am from south Africa…

    • Club soda is carbonated water. Carbonated water is water into which carbon dioxide gas under pressure has been dissolved. Some of these have additives such as sodium. This process, known as carbonation, is a process that causes the water to become effervescent

  • April

    Thanks alot I don’t have a car but this will be very useful when I do get one.

  • Donna

    Thanks worked great………….I used the leftover mixture to spring clean my patio chairs.
    Smell didn’t last that long…………………………………………………………….


  • Ana

    you said 1 cup of equal part do I use 1 cup of Dawn as well ??

  • Roy Luevano

    1 cup of dawn ? Seems a little excessive.

  • Gwen

    Do you add water to the dawn , club soda and vinegar ? 1cup Dawn soap?

  • Charity

    1 cup of dawn? Seems like a lot.

  • Anouk

    I live in Italy and want to know how can I do this mix…
    can I use a normal powder dish soap? Is club soda a water with bubbles or the water for ironing?

  • Randy

    As a professional auto detailer, if you use equal parts of liquid dish soap, you will have a nightmare on your hands and the soap residue, of which there will be MUCH, will attract dirt quickly. I don’t know which ratio you will need, but this will be a very soapy mess. I have read that it was updated, but I don’t see how this can work. It would take a LOT of passes with a steam cleaner to rinse this out.

    • Amber

      Hi Randy! It did take a few passes with the steam cleaner but set on the rinse feature it sprays water in and soak it + the suds back up.

    • Terry

      Also – why bother with all this wetness when you can use a natural, residue-free window cleaning solution? Don’t spray it onto the upholstery; spray it onto a clean cloth and wipe the upholstery down. You’d be amazed.

    • Donna

      Hi Randy, The vinegar kills the foaming action of the soap as well as killing any yucky smells in your upholstery. It may take a couple of days for the vinegar smell to dissipate. I would rather smell vinegar for 2 days instead of spilled soured milk for a couple of hours.

  • Pattiann

    Could we use this to clean home carpets. I have burber carpet and it was suppose to have stain guard and if it did it didn’t help at all. Dog and dirt stains are bad. Will this treatment help it?

  • Joyce edwards

    Down use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar?

  • Joyce edwards

    In sorry that was suppose to say do we use?

  • Paul

    Hi, thanks for this and I’m going to try it. I’d recommend that you update your post AGAIN and be VERY specific on the measurements. You say “equal parts” in your post but in this Q&A you say no more than a couple of table spoons of soap in a spray bottle. So that’s two table spoons of soap, two table spoons of soda water and two table spoons of vinegar? Still seems wrong and now the portions seem WAY too small for a spray bottle. It’s important that you get all this right as people are counting on your measurements. Most people don’t have time to experiment so please take a few minutes and REALLY nail these numbers down. Thanks.

  • brooke

    reading this really pushes all of my buttons! im not sure how much more you want these people to do? get better measurements? do this and that, well what about this or that? the article CLEARLY says use EQUAL parts!!! lets go over what this mean…. if you choose to use a whole cup of vinegar then you also use a whole cup of dawn and club soda. if you choose to use a half a cup of vinegar then you also use a half a cup of dawn and club soda, if you choose to use a tablespoon of vinegar then you also use a tablespoon of dawn and club soda, so on and so on! USE what you think works best for you and your situation! I personally used a half a cup of everything because my spray bottle was small and I didn’t have very many stains, this mixture worked wonders! I will say if I was doing a bigger project like the whole car you would deff want to use a whole cup of everything, remember do not add soap to your steam cleaner this will make things a soapy mess!! add water ONLY!! I LOVE THIS AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING

  • Mercedes

    I seen this post and decided to use this recipe to get my car seats clean I have two little boys so you can imagine the mess they make and it worked wonderfully. The only thing I changed was I used peroxide in stead of club soda my local store was all out of club soda but it still worked great thank you for saving my car and money ?

  • Michelle

    Okay so I used a cup of each, I had a pretty big spray bottle,am and quite a lot of stains. When I shook the bottle though, it actually expanded and began to ooze out of the spray tip. I had to turn the tip to closed so it wouldn’t leak until I was ready to use it. By then it had settled down. The ratio was a bit soapy when I was trying to remove it from my seats, I used my Bissel pet stain remover to spray just clean water and then suck it all out, but it was still soapy. I figured it would be fine though. I didn’t really have much of a vinegar smell at all, but I did not use blue Dawn because I didn’t have it, I just used the dish soap I had which was pink and pomegranate smelling so maybe that was why. I will say it worked fabulously. I have at 5 year old and had a ton of stains. This worked on my seats and even my floor mats. Thank you!


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