How to Clean Between Car Seats in 10 Easy Steps

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how to clean between car seats

Need to know how to clean between car seats? Follow these 10 easy steps to make the space between and under your car seats look (and smell) new again.

10 Steps to Deep Clean Between Car Seats

  1. Disconnect the negative battery terminal
  2. Remove the seats from the vehicle
  3. Gather & throw away trash
  4. Vacuum the carpet & floor ventilation ducts
  5. Remove pet and human hair with pet hair removal tool
  6. Remove stains with upholstery & carpet stain remover
  7. Deep clean the carpet with an extractor and carpet cleaning solution
  8. Clean the seat rails with all purpose cleaner and a detail brush. Re-lubricate.
  9. Clean the sides of the console with interior detail spray & steamer
  10. Reinstall seats & reconnect the battery

Tools & Products Needed for a Deep Clean:

  • Socket wrench set
  • Vacuum
  • Pet hair removal tool
  • Carpet and upholstery stain remover
  • Carpet extractor & carpet cleaning solution
  • Drill & drill brush (optional)
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Detail brush
  • White lithium grease
  • Microfiber towels
  • Interior detail spray
  • Steam cleaner

5 Steps to Quick Clean Between Car Seats

  1. Move the seat back as far as it will go
  2. Gather & throw away trash
  3. Vacuum with a crevice tool
  4. Wipe down the console
  5. Move the seat forward as far as it will go, and repeat steps

Tools & Products Needed for a Quick Clean:

  • Vacuum w/ crevice tool
  • Flashlight (optional)
  • Microfiber towel
  • Detail brush
  • Interior detail spray

10 Steps to Deep Clean Between Car Seats

Step 1: Disconnect the Negative Battery Terminal

Open the hood and disconnect the negative battery terminal. This disconnects all power from the vehicle. Today’s modern car seats have sensors and airbags in them. Disconnecting the battery avoids lights or warnings on your dashboard when removing the seats. It’s OK to remove seats with airbags as long as you disconnect the battery before unplugging the electronics. We’ll cover this in a later step.

Step 2: Remove the Seats from the Vehicle

To properly clean between and under car seats, its best to completely remove them from the vehicle. Locate the four bolts that secure the seat to the floor of the vehicle. Using a socket wrench, loosen and remove each bolt. Once all four bolts are removed, tip the seat back or forward and locate the wiring harness. Unplug the wiring harness, then lift the seat out of the vehicle.

Set the seat on a clean dry surface.

Step 3: Gather and Throw Away Trash

With the seat removed, gather loose trash (paper, coins, wrappers etc.) and place it in the garbage. Remove anything that is too large for a vacuum to suck up.

Step 4: Vacuum the Carpet & Floor Ventilation Ducts

Using a shop vac, vacuum the carpet thoroughly. Remove as much dirt and debris as possible. For seats with ventilation ducts under the seats, take time to clean those with the vacuum and a detail brush.

Step 5: Remove Pet and Human Hair with Pet Hair Removal Tool

If the carpet has pet hair in it, use a proper pet hair removal tool to gather all of the pet hair under the seat into a pile. Once it’s all gathered together, vacuum it up. Without a proper pet hair removal tool, pet hair is difficult to remove with a vacuum only. It gets caught in the fibers of the carpet and is difficult to remove. A proper pet hair removal tool make this task easy and fast.

Step 6: Remove Stains with Upholstery & Carpet Stain Remover

It’s common for food and drinks to fall between the seats and the console leaving dried on stains. Treat these by spraying upholstery and carpet stain remover and let it soak. When you spray the solution on the stain, it will create a foam layer. Let the solution sit undisturbed on the stain until all of the tiny bubbles have popped, then wipe away. This solution is very effective.

Step 7: Deep Clean the Carpet with an Extractor and Carpet Cleaning Solution

With the trash, dirt, and stains gone, deep clean with a carpet extractor. Spray the carpet with carpet cleaning solution. Let the solution soak in for a minute or two, then rinse and extract the solution and dirt with the extractor. For added cleaning power, use a drill brush to agitate the carpet and work the cleaning solution into the fibers before extracting. Repeat this step as needed until the carpet is clean.

Step 8: Clean the Seat Rails with All-Purpose Cleaner and a Detail Brush. Re-Lubricate.

So that you don’t put a seat with dirty rails back onto clean carpet, take a moment to clean them before reinstalling the seats.

Spray all-purpose cleaner (APC) onto the dirty rails and agitate with the detail brush. Vacuum or wipe away dirt and excess APC.

Most all-purpose cleaners are degreasers. Once the rails are clean and dry, you’ll need to re-lubricate the rails with white lithium grease.

Step 9: Clean the Sides of the Console with Interior Detail Spray & Steamer

If you see streaks of milk shake, soda, or anything else down the side of your console, take a moment to clean it before reinstalling the seats.

Spray all-purpose cleaner or interior detail spay directly onto the dirty console plastic. Agitate with a detail brush and wipe away. For goo that is really stuck on, hit it with a steam cleaner and watch it dissolve. Wipe away with a microfiber towel.

Step 10: Reinstall the Seats & Reconnect the Battery

Now that the space between and under your seats is clean, reinstall the seat back into the vehicle. Be sure to plug the wiring harness in before you bolt it down. Tighten the bolts to manufacturers torque specs. A solid hand tightening with a socket wrench should be sufficient if torque specs are not available.

With the wiring harness plugged in and the seat bolted back down, reconnect the negative terminal on the battery and tighten.

Close the hood, and you’re done!

5 Steps to Quick Clean Between Car Seats

Most of the time, a deep cleaning between the seats is not necessary. A quick clean does a great job of keeping things looking good without having to remove the seats and use expensive tools. Here are the steps for a quick cleaning between car seats:

Step 1: Move the Seat Back as Far as it Will Go

Use the lever or the motorized switch to move the seat back as far as it will go. This will expose a large portion of the area between and under the seats.

Step 2: Gather & Throw Away Trash

Grab any loose trash and throw it away. Anything that is too big for a vacuum to suck up should be removed by hand at this stage.

Step 3: Vacuum with a Crevice Tool

Attach a crevice tool to your vacuum and proceed to clean. The angles can be a little tough, but do your best. Clean from the front and from the top. Sometimes a flashlight can be useful in seeing dark areas under and around your seat.

Step 4: Wipe Down the Console

With the seat all the way back, wipe as much of the console as you can using all-purpose cleaner or interior detail spray. Agitate with a detail brush and wipe away with a microfiber towel.

Step 5: Move the Seat Forward as Far as it Will Go, and Repeat Steps 1-4

Use the lever or the motorized switch to move the seat all the way forward. This will expose a new section for you to clean.

Repeat steps 1-4 of the quick clean steps. You’re done!


Is it safe to remove the seats from my car?

Yes, it is safe to remove the seats from your car as long as you disconnect your negative battery terminal first. Some seats are equipped with sensors and air bags. So that you don’t end up with warning lights on dashboard, disconnect your battery and keep it disconnected during the entire process. You should have no issues doing it this way.

When reinstalling the seat, make sure to tighten the bolts to manufacturer’s torque specs.

How do I remove the seats from my car?

Most car seats are secured with four bolts, one in each corner of the seat. Using a socket wrench, turn the bolts counter-clockwise to loosen and remove the bolts. Once the bolts are removed tip the seat forward or backward to expose the wiring harness. Find the release tab on the wiring harness, press it and pull the harness apart.

With the bolts out and the wiring harness disconnected, lift the seats out of the vehicle. You might need two people for this.

How long does it take to clean between car seats?

A deep clean should take around 1 hour for both front seats. A large SUV might take 2-3 hours to complete a deep clean.

A quick clean should take 20-30 mins for the entire vehicle.

Should I use a steam cleaner to clean between car seats?

Yes. Steam cleaners are great at breaking up old, dried up, stains and goo. Normally steam cleaners are used on a deep clean with the seats out. It’s hard to use them with the seats still in.

Should I use compressed air to clean between car seats?

I don’t recommend it. Compressed air is effective at blowing dirt and debris out from between the seats. But, it stirs up dust in the air and shoots crumbs and other things around the vehicle. Not ideal. A vacuum is the most effective tool for cleaning the carpet under and between the seats.

How can I keep things from dropping down between my seats?

The best way to keep things from falling down between your car seats is to install a car seat gap filler. These are simple products that fill the space between your seat cushion and the console. When you drop something, the seat gap filler blocks it instead of it dropping down out of sight and out of reach. These are inexpensive products and they look great. Some manufacturers are installing them from the factory now.


The best way to clean between car seats is to remove the seats form the vehicle and deep clean with a vacuum, stain remover solution, carpet extractor, and steam cleaner. This takes quite a bit of time, and is not necessary every time.

For a quick clean, move the seat forward and backward in order to better access the area between your seats with your vacuum and crevice tool.

Installing a seat gap filler is a great way to keep the area between and under your seats clean.

What Next?

Now that the space between and under your car seats is clean, move on to another dirty area of your car’s interior. See our other interior detailing guides.

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Tyler Dixon is the founder of, and enjoys all things automotive-detailing. He has had a passion for all things automotive since childhood, and could often be found detailing his parents vehicles at a young age. He enjoys sharing his passion and skills for detailing with others, and is always looking for the next vehicle to transform.

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