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Fabric is the most difficult upholstery to detail. Time consuming.

Unlike vinyl and leather, fabric upholstery easily soils and stains. Expect to spend 2 to 3 hours detailing a sedan with fabric upholstery, a little less time for a truck or two-seater.

The 2 basic types of fabric upholstery cleaners, foaming or non-foaming, are cleaners that penetrate and lift both dirt and stains to the surface where you can wipe them away.

For quick spot cleaning, get a spray-on/wipe-off cleaner.

These cleaners are strong and get deep into the soil or stain to thoroughly clean. But for a complete cleaning, I prefer good old soap and water.

Before we leave this topic, let’s revisit something.

I’ll say it again…

The need for color fade testing by cleaning a small, inconspicuous area. Do not use the product if it adversely changes fabric color or texture.
Rinsing Through Vacuuming

On to rinsing. It’s the key to successfully shampooing your car’s upholstery.

If you don’t rinse, the dirt and soap will remain in the upholstery. Rinse water must be removed with a wet-dry vacuum, extractor or plenty of clean towels.

Use a shop wet-dry vacuum, a coin-op car wash vacuum or a carpet wet-dry machine rented from your local grocery store.

Oh, and…make sure you have the vacuum before you get started!

Follow these easy vacuuming steps:

Vacuum the upholstery thoroughly.

Spray spots and heavily soiled areas with a good spot remover, and allow the cleaner a few minutes to work. I use an All Purpose Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner.

Fill a bucket with 2 gallons of warm water.

Lightly spray a section of upholstery (no more than 2 square feet at a time) with your upholstery cleaner. Use an upholstery scrub brush and a sponge in a circular motion to agitate the upholstery. Dip your brush in water to keep it wet, but apply as little water as possible.

Wipe away the suds with a sponge or a damp detailing towel.

Empty your bucket of soapy water and refill with clean warm water.

Rinse the upholstery with clean water by wiping with a damp terry cloth towel or sponge. Rinse the soap from your towel or sponge often and wring it out. Use as little water as possible, but rinse thoroughly.

Vacuum your upholstery to extract the remaining rinse water and dirt.

If you’re not working on a warm, sunny day, use a hair dryer to complete the drying process. Be careful not to scorch the fabric by holding the dryer too close.

Allow the fabric to dry overnight before using the vehicle. If possible, keep your windows open slightly to allow the moisture to escape.


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