a set of dirty fabric car mats on a floor ready to be cleaned

Can You Put Car Mats In The Washing Machine?

Car mats are an essential component of any vehicle, serving both functional and aesthetic purposes. They protect the car’s interior from dirt, debris, and moisture, ensuring the longevity and cleanliness of the car’s flooring. Over time, these mats become dirty and require cleaning to maintain their appearance and functionality. While most car owners are familiar with vacuuming their mats, many wonder about other cleaning methods, such as can you put car mats in the washing machine?

While car mats can be cleaned in a washing machine, it’s advised to use cold water on a gentle cycle for fabric mats. Avoid machine washing rubber mats entirely. Alternative methods include hand washing or spot cleaning for targeted stains, ensuring mats retain their integrity and appearance.

All these methods are fully broken down so you can be sure of a clean set of car mats.

Cleaning Car Mats in the Washing Machine

Cleaning fabric car mats in a washing machine can offer a hassle-free and efficient way to get rid of accumulated dirt and grime. The process involves a few simple steps to ensure the mats come out clean without causing any damage.

  1. Preparation – Begin by vacuuming the mats to remove loose dirt. If you come across stubborn stains, treat them with a stain remover before the wash.
  2. Loading – Place the car mats inside the washing machine without overcrowding. It’s best to wash one or two at a time.
  3. Selecting the Cycle – Opt for a gentle cycle, using cold water to prevent potential damage to the fabric.
  4. Detergent Choice – Use a mild detergent, avoiding any harsh chemicals or bleach which can harm the mats.
  5. Washing – Start the machine and let it run its full cycle, ensuring the mats are thoroughly cleaned.
  6. Rinse – Some washing machines have an extra rinse cycle. Use it to ensure all detergent is washed off the car mats.
  7. Shaking Out Excess Water – Once the wash is done, take out the car mats and shake them gently to remove excess water.
  8. Drying – It’s essential to dry the car mats correctly. Avoid direct sunlight, which can fade the color. Place them flat in a well-ventilated spot until they’re completely dry.

Hand Washing Car Mats

Hand washing is a reliable cleaning technique for those car mats that may not be suited for machine washing or when one prefers a more personal touch. This method ensures that the mats receive individual attention, especially on stains that require special care.

  1. Gathering Supplies – Gather a large basin or tub, mild detergent, soft brush, and clean water.
  2. Pre-Cleaning – Use a vacuum to extract surface dirt and debris from the car mats before introducing them to water.
  3. Water Preparation – Fill the basin with cold water, then add a few drops of the mild detergent and stir until suds appear.
  4. Soaking – Immerse the car mats in the soapy water solution and let them soak for about 10 minutes.
  5. Brushing – With a soft brush, gently scrub the car mats, giving extra attention to stained or heavily soiled areas.
  6. Rinsing – Empty the basin of its soapy water, then fill it with clean, cold water. Immerse the car mats again, swishing them around to remove detergent.
  7. Wringing – Hold the car mats vertically and gently wring out excess water without twisting them too tightly, which might distort their shape.
  8. Drying – Place the car mats flat on a clean surface, preferably in a shaded area with good airflow. Flip them occasionally to ensure even drying.

Spot Cleaning Car Mats

Spot cleaning focuses on addressing specific areas of concern on your car mats. This approach is ideal when you’re dealing with occasional spills or minor stains that don’t require a full wash. This method applies to both fabric and rubber car mats.

  1. Gather Materials – Have on hand a soft brush, cloth, mild detergent or a car upholstery cleaner, and clean water.
  2. Assess the Stain – Before treating, determine the nature and severity of the stain, which can guide the cleaning approach.
  3. Dampen the Area – Lightly wet the stained section of the car mat with water.
  4. Apply Cleaner – Place a small amount of your chosen cleaner onto the stain.
  5. Gentle Action – Using the soft brush, work on the stain using circular motions, ensuring you don’t scrub too aggressively.
  6. Blotting – After brushing, dampen your cloth with clean water and dab at the treated spot to lift away the cleaner and loosened dirt.
  7. Review – Check the area to ensure the stain has been removed. If remnants remain, repeat the process.
  8. Air Out – Allow the cleaned spot to air dry. Ensure the car mat doesn’t remain damp for extended periods to avoid mold or mildew growth.


Can I use a pressure washer to clean car mats?

Employing a pressure washer can be a powerful method for extracting embedded dirt from car mats, particularly if they are rubber. When using a pressure washer, it’s vital to operate on a lower pressure setting and hold the nozzle a fair distance from the mat. This ensures that the forceful water stream doesn’t damage or wear out the material prematurely. Always test a small, inconspicuous area before cleaning the entire mat.

Can I use bleach to clean car mats?

Bleach is a potent chemical that can be detrimental to the color and integrity of car mats. Its harsh nature might lead to fading, especially on colored mats, and may also degrade the fabric or rubber over time. Instead, opt for specialized cleaning agents designed for car mat cleaning or stick to gentle detergents that are known to be safe for a range of materials.

Can I put rubber car mats in the washing machine?

Rubber car mats can be particularly heavy and rigid, which makes them a challenging fit for standard washing machines. The agitation and spinning in the machine can potentially warp or misshape the rubber. A safer alternative would be to clean them manually using a mixture of water and mild detergent, followed by rinsing with a hose.

Can I use fabric softener when washing car mats?

While fabric softener might make textiles feel soft and pleasant, its application on car mats isn’t recommended. The residues from fabric softeners can reduce the grip of the mat, making it more slippery. This poses a potential safety hazard, especially when stepping into the vehicle with wet shoes.

Can I put car mats in the dryer after washing them?

Putting car mats in a dryer exposes them to high temperatures that might not be suitable for their material. Excessive heat can lead to shrinking, misshaping, or even melting, depending on the mat’s composition. It’s a safer bet to air dry mats. Lay them out flat in an area with good airflow, ensuring they dry evenly on both sides.

How long does it take for car mats to dry after washing them?

Drying times can vary based on environmental conditions, the material of the mat, and the method used for washing. While fabric mats might take several hours to dry fully, rubber or plastic mats can dry faster, especially in warm and windy conditions. It’s essential to ensure mats are entirely dry before placing them back in the car to prevent mold growth or unpleasant odors.


Cleaning car mats is crucial for maintaining the interior aesthetics and hygiene of your vehicle. Whether you choose to use a washing machine, hand wash, or spot clean, it’s essential to use the right products and techniques to ensure the longevity of your mats. Regular maintenance and understanding the cleaning dos and don’ts will keep your mats looking new and serving their purpose effectively.