Auto Detailing Basics – Cleaning the Carpet

The carpet in any car or truck is the first thing to show obvious signs of wear. Dirty shoes, debris from the road, spills, crumbs, and other causes result in carpets that capture and retain dirt. This is why your carpets, even after a quick vacuuming, always appear dirty and soiled.

Luckily, cleaning your vehicle's carpets is easier than you think. Unlike other surfaces of your car, such as your dashboard or center console, the carpet is very similar to the carpet that you'd find in your home. This means that there are multitudes of cleaning products that exist that are both auto detailing oriented and inexpensive.

Auto Detailing Inside Tip: Laundry Soap Does the Trick!

Using laundry soap, mixed in concentrate with water, is usually all you need. For severe stains, a conventional stain remover (so long as it is non-bleaching) is typically all you'll need.

Mix the laundry soap (the new "concentrated" detergent works best) into a nominal amount of water (about enough soap for 1 load of laundry in approximately 1-1.5 gallons of water) and use a scrub brush on the carpet. Be sure to really get everywhere with the brush, and ensure that your brush is always carrying a fresh supply of soapy water.

Once you have successfully managed to clean the soiled areas, take a separate brush and rise with clean water. Do not pour the water directly on to the carpet, but apply it liberally enough so as to rinse the carpet out. Then use a sponge to sop up any excess. Then, use a wet / dry shop-vac to suck up as much water as you can from the carpet. The vehicle may need to sit overnight to dry out with the windows open.

The Secret to Successful Auto Detailing is Consistency!

Anyone can clean their car. The benefit of using a professional auto detailing company is that they will take the time to ensure that a high-quality job is done. However, you can achieve that same result by being meticulous in your process as you clean. Your carpets, for example, may need several treatments to completely remove the dirt and stains.

Don't forget to remove the floormats and seats to ensure that you are able to clean as much of the carpet as possible. Ideally, you should only have to do a thorough auto detail of your car two or three times per year. In fact, it can make a great Saturday afternoon project!

What's Under Your Car's Carpet?

It's now been 2 years since stories of flood cars from Hurricane Katrina saturated the world of 'buyer-beware'. But it's not just flood cars that cause problems. Other liquids like spilled milk, snow melt, pressure washed carpeting or a leaking windshield can cause serious problems too. Let us show you just how serious a wet floor can be!

Our expertise is in airbag systems, airbag replacement and airbag service, so we are often called upon to do investigations for insurance companies, attorneys and individuals involving accidental or inadvertent airbag deployment. After inspecting many such vehicles and knowing the serious personal injuries they can cause, the reason for these airbag deployments are shocking. What we have found has a common theme … liquids and electronics do not mix !!

This article will show you exactly what happens; not necessarily immediately, but 6 months, 1 year or even up to 4 or 5 years down the road. Once you know the facts, just being aware of these potentially serious situations and hazards can help you deal with the causes and may just save you from serious personal harm.

Although an estimated 500,000-600,000 cars were damaged by the hurricane and subsequent flood waters, many non-flood vehicles are susceptible to the same type of damages. What damage? Water or moisture collecting under the seats and console damaging highly sensitive electronic components.

The airbag control units for most of the vehicles on the road today are located on the floor, or near the center of the vehicle under the seats and consoles. They are positioned there specifically by the manufacturers in order to replicate, as closely as possible, the effects of an accident on the passengers in the vehicle. But by being positioned at such a low point in the vehicle, they are at risk of contamination from water or many other situations. Some simple, normal, everyday things that happen when you drive a car can have severe consequences. Here are a few.

With winter coming and snow flying in many states, melted snow and ice will now be introduced to the floors of vehicles across the country. Turn on the heater and this snow and ice becomes water, saturating the carpet and ultimately draining to the lowest pint in the vehicle … the floor under the seats.

As vehicles in the 'sun states' get older and sit in the sun day after day, the soft rubber seals around the windshield begin to harden and crack. Once the brittle seal cracks or breaks, any rain or water from the car wash that hits the roof and windshield is now channeled into the car, hidden by the interior trim panels and travels down to the lowest points in the car … the floor and beneath the seats.

Or how about the used car dealer wanting to get the most for his cars? With the best intentions, he power cleans the interior of a every vehicle he gets from the auction. These are not flood cars, just used cars with soiled carpets. With a pressure wand in hand, or a power steamer, the carpets are purposely washed and then dried as well as possible. But it's too late … the water that soaked the carpet during the process has already seeped through, drained under the seats and now collects on the metal floor, saturating the padding on the way and going exactly where we don't want it wet ; around the airbag control unit.

And with so so people eating and drinking in their vehicles, cup holders all over the dash and console, the potential for a spilled soft drink or cup of coffee is greater now than ever. And guess where that spilled liquid goes … Right, through the console to the floor, or between the seats where you can't dry it up.

Whatever the reason, liquids make their way to the carpet and interior of the vehicles exactly where we don't want it … mixing with the electronic control module.

Here's what happens when water and electronics mix. These pictures capture the inevitable results of ignoring the problem of a wet floor. Over time, water can turn the part on the left into the part on the right. Which one is in your car?

The owner of the vehicle this part came from suffered serious injuries as the airbag deployed immediately upon starting her car one morning. She was belted in place, nor was she prepared for the impact of the airbag. She was just starting her car to go to work when she was hit in the face and jaw by an airbag at 200 mph. (General Motors Safety webpage)

Airbags are designed to protect us from injury, but just like so many other conveniences in our lives, they need care and maintenance to insure their reliability. Most car manufacturers recommend servicing the airbag systems every 10 years. Checking the floors for moisture buildup should be included in that procedure and done more often. As a vehicle owner though, it's ultimately your responsibility to care for and maintain your car. After all, it's you who is at risk.

Here are some simple things you can do to identify if your car is at risk. Be aware of any of the following indicators. They may indicate a serious problem brewing:

  • Dampness in the floor and carpeting; moisture on the inside of the instrument panel
  • Rust on interior screws and other metal parts
  • Mildew, debris and mold in places where it shouldn't normally be found
    • under the seats or carpeting,
    • in the trunk, or
    • in the rear floor wells
  • Water stains or discoloration of seat belts and door panels
  • A moldy odor or an intense smell of Lysol or deodorizer being used to cover up an odor problem

How to Select a Car Carpet

When it comes to the interior of your car, the carpet is an important but often overlooked element. Choosing the right color and style will transform the vehicle; ultimately, it will determine the feel and fashionability of the inside of the car, and can make it a very pleasant place to be seated for long periods of time.

Not only that, but carpet is a very functional part of the car's interior too. Good automotive carpet will prevent mold and mildew from growing in the cabin by repelling moisture from passengers' feet, and is designed to resist the wear and tear of general everyday use.

So there are a few things to think about when looking at interior carpet for your cherished motor. Looking at colors, you'll be spoiled for choice. Blacks and greys tend to be most popular for general use because they won't show dirt and grime as much as lighter colors, but when looking for something a bit more extravagant you may want to opt for something red or beige to match a luxurious interior . Obviously this comes with the compromise of more regular cleaning and maintenance, but the right eye-catching color can make a world of difference in making your car look special.

Another thing to consider with car carpet is the materials and construction that goes into it. Some "universally absorbent" type carpets are designed for rainier areas, which will also be suitable if you're keen on the outdoors since it'll draw away water and protect the car from spills. Alternatively, there are generic "universal carpets" which are mats designed to fit any vehicle – generally these are cheaply made, but can be a budget-conscious way of protecting the floorpan area of ​​your car from general wear and tear, though they'll rarely match the contours of your vehicle properly.

Since carpets like this are specially woven to trap dirt and debris, it's also important to maintain your automotive carpet properly. Regular vacuuming is a must to keep your carpet in top condition, and how often you do this will ultimately depend on how often you use your vehicle (and how roughly the carpets are treated). Generally though, a good rule of thumb is to give your carpet a once-over every one or two weeks. This'll prevent the carpet from becoming permanently damaged and stained by ground-in dirt and grime, since all the loose particles will be vacuumed away.

So, what this all means is that there are options for you to consider. What kind of carpet you'll end up using will really be determined by your requirements and personal taste, and of course which vehicle you'd like to fit the carpet into! As long as it's properly cared for and cleaned, a well-chosen carpet solution for your car will look and perform fantastically for a long time.