How to Clean Your Car’s Floor Mats (Rubber and Cloth)

July 9, 2019


Keeping your new car looking and feeling like new can seem like a never-ending task. This is especially true if you live in an area with inclement weather.

Dirty snow, dust from the wind, and mud have a way of marring that showroom finish. Even if you don’t have a new car, you still want it to look as clean and fresh as possible. Just like washing your car on a regular basis, one of the primary items in need of regular cleaning is your car floor mats.

Automotive floor mats come in a variety of materials and styles. The more economical versions are simple cloth mats that seem to hardly cover the rug at all.

The more elite car mats are laser-measured to perfectly fit your vehicle with durable rubber that even catches spills. The quality of your car mats can make all the difference in how well your interior rugs hold up.

Let’s consider how to clean the different types of floor mats and your carpets below.

How to Clean Rubber Floor Mats

Although a quality set of rubber floor mats can protect your carpets from staining, mold, dirt, and odors, they can also start to build up residue and gunk themselves.

You might step in tar, mud, or spill something sticky on them. Luckily, rubber floor mats are designed for easy cleaning and can be quickly refreshed to look like new again.

Follow the easy steps below to clean your rubber floor mats without worries.

Step #1: Remove the Mats

Although you may want to save a few minutes and clean the mats in your car with a quick spray and wipe, this is a good opportunity to check the condition of your carpets and to do a thorough cleaning.

It doesn’t make a big difference in total time expended to do the job right. Unless you are just touching up your mats after a thorough cleaning, removal is an essential step.

Most rubber floor mats have some anchors that connect them to the floor. These usually pop right out or unlatch to make removal and installation a breeze.

Step #2: Whack the Mats

Simply give the mats a good whack on the pavement or a wall. This will dislodge the bulk of dirt and help you assess the extent of stuck-on grime.

You can use a plastic putty scraper to dislodge any stuck-on grime that doesn’t whack right off. If it is really sticky and gooey, however, you may want to wash it off.

Step #3: Rinse Clean

Once you have removed the loose materials, you can try to put more pressure on the dirt to come off.

Use a hose and a fairly strong stream spray pattern to dissolve any dried-on gunk and wash it away. Pressurized water can act as a solvent all by itself and doesn’t require a lot of detergents to lift away most muck. You could even use a pressure cleaner to make quick work of it.

Focus on the side of the mat that you step on, and don’t turn the mats around because they may pick up dirt on the flip side.

Step #4: Wash Your Mats

There are several methods to wash your mats. You can use a spray bottle of a multipurpose cleaner that is gentle on rubber to deodorize, sanitize, and clean them. Or you can use plain soap and water with a rag to wash them in the same manner as you would wash a dish in your sink.

Some people even like to add some baking soda for fresh odor control and cleaning power.

Step #5: Repeat the Rinse

Once you have cleaned all the soot off your mats and they look as good as new again, you can simply wash away the residue with your hose. This step is fun because you get to unveil the finished product.

You’ll be surprised at home much grime can stick to your mats and how good they look when properly cleaned.

Step #6: Dry Out Your Mats

Once your mats are clean and fresh, you still have to let them dry properly before you reinstall them in your vehicle.

You may have a handrail, clothing lines, or even a trampoline to hang them on for a drip dry. If it is a little chilly outside, you may want to dry them in your basement at room temperatures for faster drying.

Step #7: Clean Your Rugs and Reinstall Your Floor Mats

Once they are dry, your cleaned floor mats should snap or hook back into place with ease.

Always be gentle with rubber and ensure that you have your mats placed in the appropriate areas of your vehicle.

If the floors are dirty, please follow our rug cleaning tips below before you install your cleaned mats.

How to Clean Cloth Floor Mats

Cloth floor mats are not easy to rejuvenate. The mats can soak in stains, grow mildew, and absorb odors much easier than rubber.

If your floor mats don’t come clean after using the following methods, you may want to consider rubber replacements.

Let’s consider the cleaning steps below.

Step #1: Remove the Mats

Cloth floor mats may not have the same types of clips to hold them into place. Nevertheless, you have to remove them from your vehicle in order to clean them properly.

Step #2: Vacuum the Mats

Before you start cleaning the fibers, you have to first vacuum out the loose debris. Vacuum both sides of your cloth floor mats to pull out what you can. This car vacuum works great and is super portable

Step #3: Work in the Baking Soda

Baking soda works very well with cloth floor mats because it has the ability to penetrate deeply and deodorize them. You can sprinkle it on and work it in with a bristle brush using water or keep it dry.

Step #4: Wash Your Floor Mats

There are numerous methods to wash out your cloth floor mats. You can use a simple solution of soap and water or spray-on carpet cleaners that soak in and break down the stains and grime lodged deep in the carpet fibers.

You can even use a rug steam cleaner, run them in a washing machine, or use a power washer.

If you have a wild side, you may want to consider replacing your car floor mats with sheepskin rugs. Sheepskin rugs can also be washed in the washing machine and are soft, absorbent, and durable.

Step #5: Vacuum Your Mats

Once you have washed and rinsed your mats clean, you can still pull some of the grime out of them by going over them again with a vacuum cleaner. Using a wet vac or a suction hose attachment works best.

Step #6: Dry Your Floor Mats

Cloth floor mats can start to grow mildew pretty quickly if you don’t dry them out fast. For this reason, it is recommended that you dry them out in a basement near a stoker stove or outside if the temperatures are warm enough. You may be able to dry them out in your dryer but have to be careful about shrinkage and rubber backings on some floor mats. Using a delicate temperature setting and checking them often is the best advice.


And there you have it. Following these steps and knowing when to replace hopeless carpet cases will help you retain your car’s value for years to come. You will also feel clean and comfortable wherever you go.

Wasn’t that fun? Be sure to clean your floor mats and carpets regularly to fully enjoy your vehicle.

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About The Author



I've been detailing cars for years. I love cars but more importantly, I love clean cars. I created this blog to share all of my knowledge around keeping cars as clean as possible.