Let’s admit it: car mats are probably THE dirtiest part of our vehicles.
And while these mats do a lot of hard work to keep your car interiors clean, you need to repay them by regular cleaning.
That brings us to the dilemma: should you clean them by just tossing into the washer and dryer?
Car mats made from rubber are not to be cleaned in a washer or dryer. That goes for mats with ANY rubber component as well.
Only mats that are completely made from fabric can be put in washers!
Time to find out how to clean up your car floor mat effectively.
How to Wash Car Mats at Home?
The process of cleaning will depend on the material of the car floor mat. So choose your cleaning method based on whether the material is rubber or cloth.
Can you put car mats in the washer?
Simple answer – no.
The main issue with rubber is, it is vulnerable to heat. The high water temperatures in the washer can damage the bonds between the material and cause it to crack.
And if the underside of the mat is already damaged, the particles might break off. These loose pieces might cause damage to the pump in the machine.
It’s best to replace such mats at the earliest.
Likewise, don’t put plastic car mats in the washer either. They can get damaged too.
And if you think about it, why would you want to do it anyway? Even if it were safe, it would have been an overkill! Kinda like calling a repair service and wasting your time and money just because your washing machine smells bad. When all you need to do is run a full cycle using baking soda and vinegar, or wipe off the rubber seal.
As you’ll see below, plastic or rubber car mats are incredibly easy to clean manually. Even the upholstered ones that have a rubber or plastic backside!
Cleaning Rubber Car Floor Mats: Step By Step Guide
A big advantage of using rubber car mats is they are super easy to clean. In most cases. dirt and stains do not stick to rubber and it repels stains effectively.
(A big plus when you have kids.)
There are two ways to clean a rubber mat: hand washing or pressure washing.
Hand washing with a brush or a clean sponge takes more time but it does a thorough cleaning job. Alternatively, you can choose a hose with a mid-range pressure to dislodge the dirt.
Always use mild detergents for cleaning rubber mats. Harsh chemicals or bleach can damage the rubber.
Here are the steps that you need to take for rubber car mat cleaning.
- The first step is to remove the mat from the vehicle. This will help to keep the vehicle floor clean and also make the process of cleaning easier. (I whack the mat against a hard surface to loosen up the dirt and grime)
- Next, you need to vacuum the mat. If you have a shop vac, use it. This will remove the loose dirt and debris from the grooved surface. You can also brush the surface with a soft-bristled brush. This will clean up the first layer of dirt.
- Mix some dish soap or laundry detergent in warm water and use the liquid to clean the mat. Make sure to work the solution into the mat, but don’t scrub too hard while using a brush. That might damage the rubber surface. You can scrub it with a sponge and rinse down the cleaning solution with a hose.
- Wipe the mat with a towel or a piece of microfiber cloth. Once most of the water is removed, air dry them completely before putting them back in the vehicle. Do not use heat for drying as that might damage the rubber.
- If there is some odor in the mat even after drying, sprinkle some baking soda on it. Let it remain for a few hours to absorb the odor. Vacuum to clean the baking soda.
Cleaning Cloth Car Floor Mats: Step By Step Guide
You can clean cloth floor mats using a power cleaner. Since the mats are rigid, it’s best to use a top-loading washing machine for them.
Even so, it is always best to check the label on the product to ensure that the material can be cleaned in a washer.
That said, removing stubborn grease and oil stains is difficult while using a washing machine. Moreover, if you have a large, stiff mat, it may not fit into a small washer.
Keep in mind, some carpet floor mats come with rubber backings that can get damaged by heat. So hand washing is the best solution. That way, you can also clean a particular spot instead of the whole mat.
When it comes to the choice of cleaning solutions, a good old mix of dish soap or a relatively mild laundry detergent and warm water works well. You can also use a car upholstery cleaner or a carpet cleaner.
Now, I have seen people wash car mats in a bathtub. Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend that unless you sanitize the bathtub thoroughly after the cleaning is done.
Here are the main steps involved in the process.
- Remove the mat from the car and vacuum both sides to remove the first layer of dirt and debris.
- Then you can put them in the washer and use the delicate setting. You can use a detergent and a stain remover as the cleaning solution. Another option is to use a steam cleaner along with a mild carpet cleaning solution for the purpose.
- For hand cleaning the mat, use a brush and a detergent solution. Spray the cleaner on the mat or soak it completely in the cleaning solution for an hour. Scrub with the brush and then rinse it thoroughly. Use a medium-pressure water hose to do a thorough cleaning job.
- You can use a stain remover on the stubborn spots. Or else, prepare a natural stain remover by mixing a tablespoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of vinegar. Apply the paste on the area and let it dry completely. Then vacuum with a moisture-sucking feature to remove the excess water and any remaining dirt particles.
- Placing squishy cloth mats inside the car is a strict no-no. Place the mat in the sun till it’s completely dry. If you have an air compressor at home, use that. Use a scent on them to keep them smelling fresh for longer periods.
What About Rubber-Textile Combo Mats?
Like with rubber-only mats, your options are:
- Either rub the textile side using mild detergent, dish soap or vinegar, then rinse it off using your garden hose. Dry them well in direct sunlight before putting them back into the car.
- If they are very dirty, have them cleaned using pressure washing.
Whatever you may hear or read online, do NOT toss these into the machine. Sure, it would wash them well. But it could also make them crack and/or shorten their lifespan!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you put car mats in the washer machine?
You can put rubber car mats into a washer machine, but the thing is, it isn’t a good idea. This can not only ruin the mat, but can also damage the interiors of the machine. However, cloth mats that are free from any rubber or plastic can be machine-washed without any problems.
Can you put car mats in the dishwasher?
It is possible to put car mats in the dishwasher, but the method is not recommended. If your dishwasher is large enough, you can use it to clean car mats. Make sure to shake off the dirt and gunk before putting it inside the washer. But you need to sanitize the machine thoroughly before putting the dishes in it again.
What is the best way to wash car mats?
The best way to wash the car mats thoroughly is by hand washing. Use the right cleaning solution to soak the mat and then scrub off the dirt with a soft brush. Rinse it thoroughly with a pressure hose and then air dry.