Cleaning car floor mats is an essential part of interior car maintenance. Dirt, dust, and debris can make the floor mats ugly to look at, speed up the wear and tear, and diminish the value of the vehicle. What’s more, learning how to properly clean your rubber car floor mats is simple, so there are no excuses not to do it if you want to keep your car in pristine condition.
What Do I Need to Clean the Mats?
Cleaning rubber car floor mats is more straightforward than you think. It is the carpeted ones that are a bit tricky to deal with, especially if there are food or chewing gum stains that need removing.
While carpeted mats can sometimes hide dirt better, rubber and plastic mats are often a better choice, especially in winter, when you can get mud or snow on your shoes, and consequently, into your car.
As with everything, when cleaning rubber mats, you want to be quick and efficient. That’s why you shouldn’t need anything you don’t already have somewhere in your house. Here’s a list of everything you should get:
- A pressure washer or a garden hose
- A brush of your choice
- Any kind of cleaner or degreaser (I recommend the Meguiar’s All Purpose Cleaner)
- Water to dilute the cleaner
- Some sort of cloth or, ideally, a car blow dryer to dry the mats
- Some shine to give the mats a newer look (optional).
How to Properly Clean Your Rubber Car Floor Mats: A Step-by-Step Guide
Now that you’ve got all you need, it’s time to actually get to work and make those mats spotless. The first step is simple:
1. Rinse the Mats Thoroughly with a Garden Hose or a Pressure Washer
Spray the mats from the front and the back. Rinse them properly from all sides and angles. This will remove the main bulk of the dirt from them.
Before moving on to the next step, make sure to shake the mats out to get excess water off. You don’t want to start cleaning the mats while there’s a puddle of dirty water on them.
The second step is just as simple as the first one:
2. Dilute Your Cleaner in Water and Apply the Cleaning Solution onto the Mats
If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can just pour the solution over the mats. Use your hands to make sure it covers the whole surface area.
The water-cleaner ratio is entirely up to you. Use more cleaner than water, or pure cleaner without water if the mats are really dirty.
Now comes the third step, which is the most crucial one:
3. Use a Brush to Clean the Mats
Just like you did while rinsing the mats, don’t just focus on the main surface area. Make sure to get the edges, the back, and all the creases properly scrubbed and cleaned in order to get all the dirt out. Don’t go easy on the mats. Press hard and go over the same areas multiple times in all directions.
Depending on the complexity of the mat design, try different brush sizes and textures.
If the mat design is elaborate, a smaller, hog hair brush might be the best option. It will allow you to easily reach the tiny cracks in the mats. However, if the mats are of a simpler design, I’d use a broad, stiffer brush.
You can always use both types of brushes. I often start with a broader and finish with a smaller, finer brush.
Now that the bulk of the work is done, you are ready for step four:
4. Remove the Cleaning Solution by Rinsing the Mats with a Garden Hose or a Pressure Washer Again
As in the first step, be thorough. Rinse the mats with water from all sides, and don’t be afraid to clean them again. If I find that the mats are still dirty, I simply go over steps two and three one more time.
The fifth step will be different depending on the tools you have available:
5. Dry the Mats
If you have a car blow dryer, simply blow the mats dry from all sides. If you only have a cloth, wait for them to dry a little bit before wiping them dry. You could also leave them to dry if you’re not in a hurry.
Of course, I recommend using a car dryer. The air pressure is going to help you get rid of stubborn small particles and grains you may have missed while cleaning the mats.
Nowadays, I’m using the compact and cheap Bigboi BlowR BUDDI car dryer, and it serves me well. Before I got it, though, I was using a leaf blower, which also gets the job done, although it’s bulkier and more troublesome to use than a small car dryer.
If you decide to leave the mats to dry, I advise you to leave them in the shade, and not in the sun. Leaving the mats to dry in the shade will make sure there are no water spots left on them afterward.
The final step is optional:
6. Apply Some Shine onto the Mats for Protection and a Sleek Appearance
Spray some shine over the mats and spread it all around with a soft, clean cloth. Again, pay attention not only to the broad surface areas but the creases and the grooves in the mats as well. Polishing won’t just give the mats a shiny, brand new look. It will also protect them from dirt and keep them clean for longer.
I should warn you, however, not to use anything greasy or slippery when polishing the mats. Your foot can easily slip if the coating makes the mats greasy. Slippery mats can be dangerous when driving, and you don’t want to jeopardize your safety or the safety of others. So, if you want to apply some shine on your mats, consider doing it only for the one that’s on the passenger side.
Still, if you want all your mats to be polished, I recommend the Scotchgard-based Meguiar’s Natural Shine Protectant. I use it to give my mats a shine and protect them without having to worry about any greasiness. That way, I can drive safely AND have an elegant-looking interior.
Why Should I Even Bother with Floor Mats?
When cleaning your car, you probably focus on the exterior most of the time. The exterior, after all, is crucial for a good first impression. However, that makes it easy to neglect the interior, and especially things like floor mats, which are rarely seen by anyone else but the driver and its passengers.
But think about this: would it be wise to paint the house and clean the windows, but leave the carpets inside dirty and stained? Of course not — you spend most of your time inside the house, not outside looking at it. The same goes for cars.
Good mats, rubber or otherwise, are crucial for keeping the car floor in good condition. They keep liquids off the car floor, protect it while you work the pedals, and keep snow and mud from ruining the carpeting. Cleaning mats is also easier than cleaning the floor — you’ll definitely save yourself some precious time.
Like I said, cleaning rubber car floor mats is simple, and now that you’ve learned how to do it, you’ll have to agree with me. If you want your car to stay in top-notch condition, there’s no reason to avoid cleaning the floor mats. With a clean and regularly maintained interior, driving will be a much more enjoyable and economic experience, both for you and your passengers. So get to work and get those mats spotless right away.