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Your Car: How to Remove Upholstery Stains

Here's how to remove juice stains and gum from your car's upholstery.

Kids eating in cars can be sticky business. Even on a good day, much of what they aim at their mouths—from Cheerios to squeeze-and-eat Go-Gurt—lands instead in some crevice of your vehicle.

Brushing crumbs from the seats is one thing; prying a wad of gum from your embattled interior is another. The trick with sticky stuff and ugly stains is to address them quickly.

"Ice works on chewing gum," says Bud Abraham, whose Portland-based company, Detail Plus, outfits car washes and auto dealers. "Freeze the gum until it's hard, then gently run a dull paint scraper over the spot." If that doesn't do the job, try a petroleum based solvent made for removing adhesives. Given a spritz of Lift Off or Goo Gone, gum will release from the fibers and peel away.

Dark juice stains can be trickier, especially if they're deep in the fabric. Use what carpet-care insiders call the heat transfer method. Get a bottle of red dye remover at your local hardware store, apply a dab to the stain, and place a damp piece of folded terry cloth over the spot. Next, pass a steam iron over the area on medium heat. The vapors will transfer the stain to the cloth, leaving the towel the only evidence from the scene of the grime.


This article was first published in January 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.