Kids in Cars: How to Clean the Stains they Leave Behind

If at any point your life has involved transporting children in your car, you will already be familiar with the not so delightful situations they can leave behind. Having on-the-go snacks and picking up that quick happy meal can be huge time savers for busy families - but can definitely have their downsides. Sticky ice cream drips, squished pieces of mandarins, unwanted sandwich fillings are just a few of the lovely “gifts” we can find staining their ways into our lives. But fear not, helpful solutions follow! 

The kids have left a mess and some grotty stains on the back seats of the car. Where do I begin?

Step 1: Let’s assess the situation.

Start by completely emptying out your car, sorting out what you want to keep and what to throw away. Cars can quickly become a vessel for storage and clutter when it comes to children, so a good clear out every now and then can be helpful. Take out the mats, wind down the windows to let some air flow through and you better not forget to check under the seats for any forgotten items or old food! 

Pro tip #1

Keep a rubbish bag somewhere handy in your vehicle to discard trash and food waste – e.g. back of the seat pockets. This will not only encourage and teach your young passengers to tidy up after themselves, it will also save you time cleaning up their mess.


Step 2: Get in the Nooks & Crannies

Now that your car is empty of items and rubbish, it’s time to clear out those nooks and crannies and have a thorough clean before we get started on those unwanted stains. For this step you will need a vacuum cleaner. A vacuum that has a changeable brush is helpful when it comes to getting into tight corners and under those passenger seats.

Step 3: Identify any Unwanted Stains or Marks

Next you need to choose a product that is right for the task. Treating your seats or floor mats of your car with the appropriate product is important - depending on the severity of the stains we recommend using a product from the Rug Doctor range. Check out our must have stain guide to see what product is best for your stains!

The Rug Doctor Stain Remover is used to specifically target acidic based marks, usually left by substances such as coffee, urine and vomit, whereas the Rug Doctor Spot Remover is typically used to tackle oil-based stains, food and dairy products such as chocolate, yoghurt or ice cream and even motor grease/oil. It can also be used to budge dirt, mud, clay, grass, and even chewing gum. For more information on the different products available and what would best suit your needs, check out the range here.

For the best results if your car interior is severely soiled or has quite a few stains we would recommend hiring or purchasing a portable upholstery cleaning machine. The Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner was designed to keep handy to tackle spills and stains when they happen on carpets or upholstery such as car interiors, this will save you time and stress. It has a small motorised handle brush that can follow the contour of the seats and mat areas with ease. If you’re interested in purchasing or finding out more information on this item take a look here on the Rug Doctor NZ website. 

Step 4: Get Rid of Stains

If you find satisfaction in a job well done, you’re going to love this fourth step because it’s time to get rid of those stains! 

If you have decided to use the Rug Doctor Spot Remover your next step is to start by removing any excess food or waste, by either gathering up the waste or blotting it carefully with a clean cloth or paper towel. For example, if your child has just dropped their chocolate ice cream on your brand new plush seats, carefully scoop the ice cream off the area, trying not to cause any further spread. 

Next lightly spray the Spot Remover onto the stained area - without saturating it or using too much. With a clean cloth gently blot around the outside of the area towards the middle of the stain. Keep a bucket of warm water nearby to rinse the cloth to remove away excess residue and continue the process until all the Spot Remover is gone. Lastly, dab the area with a clean dry cloth or paper towel. You may need to repeat these steps if there is any hint of the stain still present.

For the jobs requiring Stain Remover, start by absorbing any excess liquid with a clean cloth or paper towel. The process from here is very similar to the process above  by then lightly spraying the Stain Remover on the soiled area (without saturating). Starting from the outside of the stain, gently blot towards the centre. Rinse the cloth and continue gently agitating the stain. Once all the residue has been absorbed, gently dab the area with a clean dry cloth and repeat the process again if needed. And that’s it!

Pro tip #2

Hire a Rug Doctor machine or use your own Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner for a overall deep clean throughout your whole car on a regular basis.

Step 5: Allow for Air Flow

We recommend you also keep the doors open or windows down in the car to allow fresh air to cycle through and help dry the now clean stain free areas. And to help get rid of any lingering odours spray the Rug Doctor Odour Remover around your car for a fresh and bacteria free environment!

Pro tip #3

Keep the Rug Doctor Odour Remover handy in the back of your car to remove any bad odours asap!


For more information on Rug Doctor products check out our website.

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