A Step-by-Step Guide for Cleaning Car Seats with a Shop Vac

Before you start cleaning your car seat with a shop vac, take these steps first:

  • Store your shop vac in a dry, dust-free spot.
  • Securely attach all the necessary attachments.
  • Clean the filter inside the shop vac. This will help it pick up dirt and debris from your car seat.

Once you’ve taken these steps, you can start cleaning.

clean car seats

Gather necessary supplies

Using a shop vac to clean car seats needs special supplies. Don’t use a regular household vacuum cleaner because it’s not designed for this hard job. First, get supplies from your house or an auto parts store:

  • Shop Vac or another wet/dry vacuum cleaner
  • Car seat cleaner
  • Soft fabric brush
  • Sponge
  • Mild detergent (optional)

Also, if food stains are on the car seat, use rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant. Read instructions before using any cleaner or disinfectant.

Vacuum the seats

Vacuum car seats using a shop vacuum. Start by vacuuming all the loose dirt and debris. This includes fiber, dirt, and food crumbs. Use an upholstery attachment. Cover all areas of the seat, including between the cushion and backrests.

Once vacuumed, use a mild dish soap diluted with water to remove stuck particles in the fabric or upholstery. Lightly scrub with a soft bristle brush. Dry off excess moisture with a cloth or paper towel. Vacuum one more time to finish.


A shop vac can be a great way to clean car seats! It’s a super effective way to conquer tough stains and restore them to their original condition, without a trip to the car wash. Let’s take a peek at the best shop vacs to use, the materials needed, and exactly how to clean car seats with a shop vac.

Use a foam upholstery cleaner

A shop vac is ideal for removing dirt and debris from car seats. But, if your seat is stubbornly stained, try an upholstery cleaner. Most department stores sell foam cleaners. Spray it on the seat and wipe it with a cloth or paper towel. This will help with dirt, grease, and stains.

For tougher stains like pet hair, use a vacuum attachment brush. An outdoor hose can also be used to rinse away the cleaner residue before air drying. This will have your car’s interior looking like new!

Spot clean with a cloth and cleaner

Cleaning car seats with a shop vac? Start by spot-cleaning with a cloth & cleaner. Dust & debris first. Dab the stain with warm water or an all-purpose cleaner. Check if it’s safe for the fabric. Then, use the vacuum to suck up the rest of the dirt & debris.

Use a brush attachment to scrub the fabric

Attach a brush to the shop vac. Slowly move across the fabric, sucking up any dirt. Do this before you use a cleaner. The brush can also be used for scrubbing. To protect the fabric, do small scrubbing motions instead of running the brush back and forth lots of times.

Finishing Touches

Cleaned your car seats with a shop vac? Give ’em an extra scrub with the vacuum hose. Then, use a lint roller for a final touch. To make sure your seats look like new, here are the best products and techniques.

Roll off the lot in pristine condition!

  • Use a shop vac to remove dirt and debris.
  • Scrub the seats with the vacuum hose.
  • Use a lint roller for a final touch.

Apply a fabric protector

Vacuum out any debris after cleaning car seats with a shop vac. Then, apply a fabric protector. The product can extend the life of upholstery by shielding it against dirt and grime. This also minimizes vibrations when driving.

Follow manufacturer instructions for applying the fabric protector. Usually, multiple coats are needed. If the product contains multiple applications, follow directions on how many to use.

Allow the fabric protector to dry completely. Then, enjoy the cleanliness of your car seats. They now have the extra protection that will keep them looking and feeling their best for longer.

Vacuum the seats again

Clean each seat with a solution. Use spot treatment. Vacuum the seats. Remove any debris. Get rid of dirt, dust, and particles. Vacuum up solution. Make multiple passes over each seat. Thoroughly clean every corner. Use the brush attachment. Vacuum up excess water.

  • All dirt removed?
  • You’re ready for the finishing touches!

Let the seat air dry

Turn off the shop vac once you’ve finished vacuuming the car seat. Let the seat air dry. Open windows or use a fan to speed up the process. Ensure the seats are completely dry before applying fabric protectant or stain guard spray. Cleaning and spraying must be done separately as water can affect how well the protectant bonds.

Re-vacuum the area surrounding the seats after they are dry. This will ensure no dirt or debris has been collected during the cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a shop vac to clean car seats?

Yes, you can use a shop vac to clean car seats. Make sure to use a brush attachment and vacuum the seats thoroughly.

What kind of cleaning solution should I use?

You can use a mild detergent and water solution to clean your car seats. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the fabric.

Should I use the shop vac on the car’s interior?

Yes, you can use the shop vac on the car’s interior. Make sure to vacuum around the dashboard and other areas that are hard to reach.