Tips for Cleaning your Car and Van Mats

“I’m going to give the car a good clean in the New Year.”

- Every car owner over Christmas 

Some of us have been saying it, some of us have been hearing it... “ The car mats / van mats will get a good clean in the New Year and 2019 is going to be the year we take care of the interior!”

Not just a wipe down of the dashboard and keeping the windows streak free, not just replacing the air freshener every few weeks but keeping the car mats and van mats clean as well. We’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you keep that promise, not only to you and your family but your car or van too!

Remember that before cleaning your mats, whether they are rubber or carpet, give them a good looking over to make sure that there are no holes or rips from general use as this can cause issues when cleaning them. We would advise replacing any mats should they show any tears at the earliest opportunity.  

Why do I need to keep my car or van mats clean?

Unless you’re going to wipe your feet and shake the dirt off your shoes every time you get in, the mats and foot wells are going to be the dirtiest part of your vehicle (unless you’re a white van in town with ‘Clean Me’ and a smiley face scribbled on the side). That build-up of water, dirt, twigs and leaves will eventually lead to mould and rot in your vehicle’s interior – and then a damp smell, yuck. Mats will help to protect your interior in the first instance but eventually they will need a good clean and some TLC to keep that level of protection up. On the plus side, by giving your mats a good clean on a regular basis it will help to help keep the inside of your interior smelling fresh. Feel free to use gloves when cleaning if your mats are really mucky!

Cleaning Rubber Mats

Because our rubber mats come with a raised pattern such as diamond or penny, they are already capable of trapping and keeping dirt and water from running off them. In most cases a good shake of the mats and a wipe with a dry cloth can loosen up, release and remove most of the dirt or water that has built up. If dirt is dried on or being stubborn, you may need to wash and dry your mats a bit more thoroughly - but please remember not to do this in a washing machine and tumble dryer! We always recommend hand washing and air drying your rubber mats to avoid causing any tears or holes.

1. To give your rubber mats a more thorough clean, vacuum and / or brush down your mats before applying any water. This will clear off the first layer of dirt and remove any debris from the mats.

2. Once brushed down, use a hose (ideally a high pressure hose) and apply a mild cleaning solution that is suitable for use on rubber. Use a clean stiff bristled brush to gently work the solution into the mat to lift and remove any residual dirt; taking time to make sure that all the ridges of the raised pattern have also been scrubbed. Alternatively, you can use a clean sponge (the same as the ones you wash your dishes with) and some warm soapy water.

3. Rinse down with the hose again until all the dirt and cleaning solution has been washed off.

4. To dry your mats, first wipe them down with a microfiber cloth or towel to remove the majority of the water before leaving them to dry naturally - without leaving them in direct sunlight. Leaving your mats in direct sunlight will cause them to fade, crack and become weak; allowing them to tear more easily. Make sure your mats are completely dry before putting them back in your car or van. 

Bonus tip for rubber mats, and a word of warning… 

Applying a vinyl or rubber protection solution to your mats may be tempting as they can repel any mucky water, but some solutions will make the mats slippy and unsafe (despite any anti-slip matting you may have) and may stop water from washing off dirt when cleaning them in the future. If you’re unsure if the product you have purchased will have the desired effect, please try it before applying it to your car or van mats. 

Cleaning Carpet Mats

Although carpet mats will require some more elbow grease to clean, it’s still just as important as cleaning rubber mats. Carpet mats are likely to take longer to dry than rubber ones so you can choose to clean just one particular spot rather than a full clean of the whole set to save drying time if they don’t need a full clean quite yet, the same method will work just fine for both. Just like the rubber mats we would not advise washing and drying our carpet mats in a washing machine and tumble dryer as they have a rubber backing which can get damaged if cleaned this way. 

1. Thoroughly vacuum and / or brush off any loose dirt or debris, the more dirt we can remove at this stage the easier the next steps will be. Depending on the thickness of your carpet you may need to go over this step a couple of times. But remember, you are unlikely to get 100% of the dirt off with this step alone as some bits may be trodden quite deep into the carpet. 

2. Once the top layer of dirt has been removed, we can get to the real deep cleaning! The easiest and least taxing method for a full clean of all the mats would be to use a carpet cleaner if you have access to one. Alternatively, you can purchase carpet cleaners with a brush nozzle attached to where the solution comes from or purchase standard carpet cleaners and use a suitable brush to work the solution into the carpet. Rinse the solution as required. If you’re cleaning just one particular spot of the mat, rather than a full clean, you can apply some carpet cleaning / spot cleaning solution to a cloth and dab the solution on the required area. Using a clean and dry cloth dab on the same area to remove some of the excess solution before leaving to dry and repeat if needed.

3. Once the mats are ready for drying, unlike with rubber mats, we would encourage leaving these to dry in a nice sunny patch carpet side up (if possible, we live in England and know this is a rarity!). Sun-drying would be the best where you can to avoid a damp or mildew smell. Please make sure your mats are completely dry before putting them back in the car or van.

4. If you want to go that extra step, go over your mats again with a steam cleaning vacuum or apply some carpet freshener before vacuuming again with a non-steam vacuum. 

Bonus tip for carpet mats… 

You can make your own carpet cleaner in a pinch, this works especially well if you’re just doing a spot clean and saves you leaving the house to buy some solution! A lot of basic carpet cleaner recipes can be found online and made at home with ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard. The other benefit of making some of these yourself is you can add your own essential oils to customise the smell of your cleaner.*

Homemade Carpet Mat Stain Remover 

Mix together one tablespoon of white vinegar and one tablespoon of baking soda together to form a paste. Using an old scrub brush or toothbrush work the paste into the carpet. Once dry, thoroughly vacuum and repeat if needed. 

Homemade Carpet Mat Freshener 

Mix together two cups of baking soda with 10 – 20 drops of your preferred essential oil, depending on how intense you would like the smell, you can even mix different essential oils together but we wouldn’t advise more than 20 drops over all. Sprinkle a fine layer of the powder over your mats and allow to sit for a few hours. Give the mats a good once over with the hoover to remove the baking soda whilst leaving your mats smelling lovely and fresh!  

So remember to show your mats some TLC on a regular basis! Don’t wait until 2020 to give them a good clean again.

* If you have a specific stain you need to remove, please check what at home cleaning methods and recipes will work for the that type of stain before applying any to your mats.