How to Clean Vinyl Fabric

A vehicle with light colored vinyl interior.
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20
What You'll Need
Mild detergent
Bucket of water
Sponge or cloth
Rubbing alcohol
Hair spray

There is an abundance of items in today’s world that are made from vinyl fabric like clothing, furniture, car interior furnishings, and boat seats, just to mention a few. Vinyl is basically plastic and is made from petroleum. It’s popularity is due in large part to its durability and resistance to dirt, soil, and water. If maintained properly, a product that is made from vinyl fabric will be resilient and will last for many years. On the other hand, if not cared for, it will wear and eventually deteriorate. The steps below can aide you in your care of vinyl fabric, particularly the upholstery in your vehicle.

Step 1 – Vacuum

Begin by vacuuming to remove dust, debris, etc. This should be done with all vinyl fabric such as the seat covers in your vehicle, boat, or on your home’s interior furnishings

Step 2 – Clean Your Fabric

Soapy water

A mild dish detergent and water are the best cleaning agents for vinyl fabric. With a sponge or clean cloth and soapy water, simply wipe off the vinyl to remove dirt, food, surface stains, etc. Do this on a consistent basis, so that dirt and grime don’t accumulate and damage the fabric to the degree that it can’t be restored or can't look its best.

Step 3 - Avoid Using Harsh Cleaners

Never use harsh cleaning solvents or cleansers on your vinyl fabric, particularly ones that are abrasive. Some commercial sprays may be an exception, but check the container for proper use of the product first. If you’re not sure the cleaning solution you are using will be safe, apply a small amount to a patch of fabric that is not readily visible. In this way, you can test your cleaner without risk of discoloring fabric that will be easily seen.

Step 4 – Remove Difficult Stains

To remove ballpoint ink marks or marker stains on your car seat or upholstery, use rubbing alcohol or an inexpensive hair spray. To remove blood stains and other hard-to-remove blemishes, use a solution of 10% bleach and 90% water. Be sure you test your cleaner on your fabric before applying to a more visible portion.

Step 5 – Store Your Boat that has Vinyl Seats

A speed boat

If you have a boat with vinyl fabric seats, you can expect them to be vulnerable to mold and mildew because of repeated exposure to water and moisture. Try to avoid storing your boat in warm, damp places such as boat houses. To more effectively clean your boat seats, always make sure that after using your boat, you wipe vinyl fabric thoroughly to remove moisture that can promote the growth of mold or mildew.