Patrick asked: How do I clean seatbelts. I have a 2005 Chrysler with a silver (neutral) interior color. I’ve tried soap and water, and Weslies interior cleaner. I still can’t get the seat belts clean. Any help? Thank you.
Whether you’re trying to remove that coffee spill, ketchup drip, make-up smudge or just daily dirt and grime, here’s some methods that are sure to get the job done.
Simple Cleaning: By Hand
Seatbelts can be cleaned by hand to remove a majority, if not all, of the dirt.
You Will Need:
A clip or clothespin
Vinyl upholstery cleaner
Steps to Clean the Belts:
- Pull the belts out as far as possible to clean the sections of strapping that are usually hidden in the track.
- Attach a clip or clothespin near the reel to keep the belt from being pulled back inside.
- Use a vinyl upholstery cleaner or white vinegar to clean the belt. Spray the cleaner onto a cloth and rub the cleaner into the belt with the cloth.
- After cleaning, be sure to leave the belt pulled out until it has dried completely. If the moist belt is pulled back inside, you risk mold and mildew growth.
- If you have the ability to remove the seatbelts, the bolts can be removed and the belts can be taken out and soaked for a deeper cleaning. However, do NOT attempt this if you are not 100% sure you can reinstall the seatbelts correctly. Incorrect installation can result in unsafe belts that do not function properly should there be an accident. To learn more about soaking the belts, see our guide How to Clean Nylon Straps.
Advanced Cleaning: Pressure Washer
If you have extremely dirty seat belts, or simply don’t want to mess with hand washing, here is a cleaning method for those with the proper equipment and know how to safely use it. This is not a method for first-timers. You MUST have previous experience with power washers and know which surfaces to protect to effectively use this cleaning method. If you have the equipment, it will likely get them cleaner than any other method tried before.
You Will Need:
- Pressure washer (with adjustable settings and spray)
- Scrubbing pads
- Cleaner or degreaser (water-based)
- Clips (optional)
Steps to Clean the Belts:
- Start by opening the car door and pulling the seat belt out as far as it will go.
- Extend the seat belt outside of the car and close the door. The rubber on the door will hold seat belt out, fully extended.
- Apply your chosen cleaner or degreaser to the seat belt.
- Scrub it with a scrubbing pad.
- Now, you will use a pressure washer set on a low setting (500-800 dpi, approx. 1 gpm). Adjust the spray so that it fans out and does not spray in a direct stream. The spray should not be strong enough to hurt your skin should it come in contact with your hands.
- Hold the belt taught or have someone else hold it for you.
- Spray one side first and then the other. Ensure all of the cleaning product is removed. Quick, short sprays work best.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Use a towel to remove any excess moisture.
- Keep the seat belts fully extended until they are dry. This can be done by placing a clip near the entry point so the belts will not retract or wrapping them around the seats.
- For the part of the belt inside of the car, spread out a thick layer of towels and clean with the same method above. Use as little spray as necessary to remove the cleaning product.
- If the belts can be debolted and removed, they can be cleaned and sprayed outside of the car.
Additional Tips and Advice
- For a strong cleaning product, combine one part Meguires Super Degreaser (or other concentrated degreaser product) with four parts water.
- Do not use any cleaner that contains ammonia or bleach as they can deteriorate the fibers or stitching on the belt, making it less safe.
- Use caution and follow all safety instructions when using a power washer. Though it will certainly get your seat belts clean, it needs to be used appropriately to ensure no other car parts or people are harmed in the process.
- If the seats of your car are leather, take extra precautions to cover and protect them. Plastic tarps will prevent water from spilling onto the seats. Cover them with towels to catch any overspray from cleaning or rinsing liquids.
- If all of these steps seem like too much, you can always have the seat belts cleaned by an auto detailer.
- The Haynes Automotive Detailing Manual by Jay D. Storer and John H Haynes
- Green Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck