How to wash car seat covers: A Step-by-Step Guide

Car seat covers are one of those accessories that are a must for a lot of car owners as it offers protection and even add to the appealing look of your car interior. However, one crucial responsibility that comes with owning a car seat cover is maintenance. 

Proper maintenance of your car seat cover is important to improve its service life and make it look neat and comfortable to sit on. This article provides a detailed guide on the step-by-step method of how to wash car seat covers. These steps will include pre-maintenance action, washing, drying, and reinstallation of these seat covers. We will also brush up on some extra maintenance tips to keep your seat covers in good condition. 

Factors to consider before washing car seat covers

There are individual factors about your car seat cover you must consider before preparing to wash them.


Car seat covers can be made of fabric, neoprene, polyester, leather, and other materials. These materials have environmental condition requirements that help them remain in good condition without going out of shape or losing their quality. For example, leather shouldn’t be washed and dried under high temperatures. Knowing the type of material your seat covers are made of and the maintenance requirements, you can wash them better.

Manufacturer’s instructions

When you purchase your car seat cover, some instructions can come in a manual or can be seen on the company’s website about the maintenance of the product. Following the manufacturer's instructions is usually the key to washing your seat covers correctly, and it will save you a lot of time on research. 

Stain removal needs

Depending on the material of your seat cover, the classic or usual method of removing stains may not work. A good example is the usage of bleach on leather. Using bleach on your leather seat cover is unadvisable as this chemical is very harsh and reactive and is likely to destroy the finish of this material. The same concept goes for different materials as well, so we recommend cross-checking your stain removal techniques while considering the material used. 

Washing machine compatibility

Some materials like leather cannot be washed in a washing machine as this process destroys its natural build. There are different kinds of leather materials (faux leather, plant-based leather, and others), and while very few of them are washing machine compatible, most of them are better off with manual and surface hand-cleaning. You can check the washing machine compatibility of your seat cover material in the manufacturer’s instructions or on the product’s description if you shopped online. 

Preparation for washing

You want to vacuum any dirt and debris off your car seat cover to prevent them from getting to your car seats and going even deeper. This is an important step for some material surfaces like leather as crumbs of debris can scar its surface.

Use a gentle stain remover like a mixture of vinegar and water. Before carrying out this step, ensure that your material can be soaked for a short time without damage and that it can be used safely with this stain removal. 

If your car seat material cannot be soaked, you can increase the concentration of this solution and apply it to the areas that are stained. These stains can be caused by food and beverages, grease, mud, dirt, and ink stains. 

Washing car seat covers


Washing your car seat covers can be done in two ways: hand-washing method or washing machine method. The method you use on how to wash car seat covers depends on the kind of material your seat cover is made of and your preferences. 


Step one: Fill your sink or a large basin with warm water. The water should not be hot as it can shrink the material and cold water will not effectively remove all the dirt.

Step two: Use a gentle cleaning agent like a product made specifically for washing car seat covers. If this kind of cleaning product is absent, use a mild detergent and do not add too much water.

Step three: If your car seat cover is made of sheep skin, then you want to avoid using products that contain peroxides, alkalis, and bleach. These chemical ingredients are too strong and can discolor the material or even affect its texture. 

Step four: Scrub the material gently between your hands for about 10 minutes. This should be repeated for all seat covers. Scrubbing too hard can cause some materials to rip in the process. 

Washing machine

Step one: First and most importantly, you want to check if your car seat cover is washing machine compatible. We have discussed how to obtain this information earlier in this post

Step two: Ensure that every other piece of laundry material is out of your washing machine to prevent discoloration.

Step three: Fill your washing machine with warm water to the right level.

Step four: Add a mild cleaner recommended for your cover material or use an alternatively suitable detergent with the right ingredients.

Step five: Do not allow these covers to spin for a long time or pass through long washing cycles as it can damage the material. A medium spin cycle is preferable. 

Materials like neoprene, polyester, and rayon can be washed in a washing machine. 

Drying and reinstalling car seat covers

Just like washing, drying procedures are specific to different kinds of materials. For leather car seat covers, you want to use a soft cloth to remove as much moisture as possible, then position it in an open space and allow it to air dry. Drying your leather seat cover in a dryer or using any form of heat for drying will lead to wrinkling. 

To dry polyester, you can choose between air drying or tumble drying at a low temperature, and for neoprene, air drying is the safest opinion. 

After drying these seat covers, you want to reinstall them back on your car seats. This can be done by appropriately using the provided installation method. Some seat covers have elastic edges, straps, or hooks. When reinstalling, ensure that all areas are covered and fitted as usual, the seat cover should not move around after installation if it initially didn’t do so. 

Maintenance tips for your car seat cover


In addition to the procedures given to help you wash your car seat covers this section provides some additional maintenance tips to help keep your seat covers in good shape.

  • Do not wash your seat covers regularly as they can lose some of their special properties (e.g. waterproof quality). Opt for cleaning and vacuuming.
  • For leather seat covers, use conditioners and protectants to keep them moisturized.
  • Consider using a fabric stain protector to prevent future stains.
  • Always follow your manufacturer’s maintenance instructions.
  • If you are not sure about the drying specifics for a material, opt for air drying under a shade or low exposure to UV lights.
  • Avoid regular eating and drinking in your car.


If you use your car often, even with the presence of a removable car seat cover, you need to engage in a deep cleaning session once in a while to remove stains, and odors, and keep your car’s interior feeling fresh. This comprehensive and straightforward guide teaches you how to wash car seat covers

We have included procedures for both handwashing and machine washing, as well as tips for drying and reinstalling these seat covers. Following the procedures provided above can help you maintain your car seat covers and preserve their quality.