How To Clean Car Seat Belts Without Destroying Them

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how to clean dirty car seat belts without damaging them

Dirty car seat belts are a nightmare. Many car detailers avoid cleaning them because they don’t want to take the risk of seat belts falling apart in the case of an accident. However, there’s always the right way to do it. Today, I decided to show you how you can clean dirty car seat belts without destroying them.

To clean dirty car seat belts, you should:

  • Pull the seat belt all the way out and lock it with a clip
  • Spray the seat belt with a degreaser
  • Scrub the seat belt with the magic eraser or a brush
  • Wipe off the seat belt with a clean microfiber towel
  • Apply fabric protectant on the seat belts

How To Clean Car Seat Belts: Step by Step

Before we dive into the steps for cleaning dirty seat belts, let’s see the equipment you’re going to need. If you ever detailed a car, you probably already most of the required equipment.

Equipment Needed For Cleaning Car Seat Belts:

That’s everything you need. Some people are using steam cleaners, but I don’t like to use them on seat belts. I’ll talk about that later.

1. Pull The Seat Belt All The Way Out And Lock It With a Clip

clips in different colors

First things first, you should pull the seat belt out so that you can work on it. When I pull it out, I use a clip to lock it. Otherwise, it’ll pull in every time you release it.

When you pull it out, attach the clip to the seat belt’s top, just before the seat belt pull-in mechanism. That way, it’ll stay outside.

Without a clip, you’re probably going to need an extra pair of hands to keep the seat belt outside all the time. If you’re like me, you don’t want to bother anyone else, so the clip is the best option for you to do it completely alone.

2. Spray The Seat Belt With Degreaser

Now, you should spray the degreaser on the seat belt. What I like to do first is to find the dirtiest spots and concentrate on them. After those dirty spots, I clean the rest of the seat belt. 

IMPORTANT: don’t over-saturate the seat belt with the degreaser. If you over-saturate safety belts, they could tear apart in the case of an accident – we want to avoid that.

Apply the degreaser on the dirty spot, wait a few moments, and you’re ready to start cleaning it.

3. Scrub The Seat Belt With The Magic Eraser or a Brush

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Original, Cleaning Pads with Durafoam, 9 Count

As I said, concentrate on the dirty spots first. Always work on smaller areas. You’ll get better cleaning results.

Usually, I agitate it with the magic eraser. It’s a great product, especially for cleaning seat belts. Make sure to clean it thoroughly so there are no stains left.

If there are some adamant stains, I like to use a stiff bristle brush. A toothbrush is also a good option if you don’t have a “real” brush. 

The hard bristle brush is excellent for removing tough stains. Just make sure not to scrub it too hard on the seat belt. Be as gentle as possible.

Again, after you have successfully cleaned all the “very” dirty spots, spray the degreaser once more on the whole seat belt and quickly clean it again with a magic eraser or a brush.

4. Wipe Off The Seat Belt With a Clean Microfiber Towel

When you successfully clean the whole seat belt, it’s time to wipe it off. For this, you should use a clean microfiber towel.

Just wipe the whole seat belt with it, and try to get it as dry as possible. The quicker the seat belt dries, the better.

When you wipe it with a microfiber towel, you’ll maybe find some spots that are still dirty. If you do, just repeat the whole process on that spot only. Again, make sure not to over-saturate the seat belt.

5. Apply Fabric Protector On The Seat Belts

After cleaning all seat belts in the car, you should always apply some fabric protectant. 

As I said earlier, I like to use the Scotchgard Auto Fabric & Carpet Protector. It’s not expensive, yet it’s a great product.

Scotchgard Auto Fabric & Carpet Protector, 20 Ounces, 2 Cans

When you apply the fabric protectant, seat belts will get a layer of protection, making them less likely to get dirty again. The next time you clean the car, it’s going to be much easier to clean them if you apply some fabric protectant the first time.

After applying the fabric protectant, you’re finished with the job.

Things Not To Do When Cleaning The Seat Belts

Now you know the way I use to clean seat belts, and in my opinion, that’s the safest way to clean them, but still the great results.

I just wanted to point you to some things you should avoid when cleaning the seat belts. As I said, if you don’t clean them properly, over time, they can start to fall apart.

When cleaning the seat belts, avoid doing the following:

  • Using a pressure washer: using a pressure washer for seat belts is the best way to get the best cleaning results, but it’s hazardous. Never do this on your car seat belts.
  • Cleaning them with a steam cleaner: many people do it, but I think it’s also not entirely safe. When you use a steam cleaner to clean seat belts, they are exposed to very high temperatures, which in my opinion, isn’t good for their firmness and flexibility.
  • Over-saturate them with a degreaser: even though it can help you remove all the dirt from them, it can also cause fibers to fall apart. Always make sure to use just as little degreaser as possible to clean them successfully.

I think that those were the three most common mistakes when cleaning car seat belts. Make sure to stay away from them. Again, some people like to use a steam cleaner, but in my opinion, it’s also not entirely safe. But that’s just the way I look at it.

Clean Seat Belts Don’t Save Lives, Undamaged Do!

This may be a little off-topic, but I have to tell you this. Sometimes, you won’t be able to completely clean seat belts and make them like new ones again.

You shouldn’t worry about it too much. The most important thing for seat belts is to protect our lives, not to be 100% clean.

Many car detailers don’t even want to touch seat belts because they are afraid of damaging them, and I understand them.

Consider Buying New Seat Belt Webbings

If the seat belts are still dirty after cleaning them and you want them to look new again, my recommendation is to buy new seat belt webbings for your car. That’s the most secure way, and you’ll get perfectly clean car seat belts. 

I’ve found some great deals at Safety Restore, and what’s great about it is that you can choose custom colors for the seat belts.

If you want to save some money, you can find many unused seat belt webbings on Craigslist and similar sites.

Sure, here’s a draft for the “Tips for Maintaining Seat Belts” section of your article:

Tips for Maintaining Clean Seat Belts

Maintaining your car’s seat belts is not just about cleanliness, it’s also about safety. Here are some tips to help you keep your seat belts in top condition:

Regular Cleaning

  • Avoid letting stains set in: The sooner you clean a spill or stain, the easier it will be to remove. Don’t let stains sit for too long.
  • Use mild cleaners: Harsh chemicals can damage the fabric of the seat belt. Always opt for mild fabric cleaners or make a homemade cleaner using mild soap and water.

Proper Usage and Handling

  • Don’t yank the seat belt: Pull the seat belt out smoothly and slowly. Yanking can cause the belt to lock or damage the retractor mechanism.
  • Keep sharp objects away: Sharp objects can fray or cut the seat belt fabric. Ensure that items with sharp edges are kept away from the seat belts.

Regular Inspection

  • Check for wear and tear: Regularly inspect your seat belts for signs of wear and tear. Look for fraying, cuts, or thinning areas. If you notice any damage, consider replacing the seat belt.
  • Check the retractor: The retractor should pull the seat belt back smoothly and lock the belt during sudden stops. If it’s not functioning properly, it may need repair or replacement.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your seat belts remain clean and functional, contributing to a safer driving experience.

FAQs on Cleaning Car Seat Belts

What type of cleaner should I use for my seat belts?

For most seat belts, a mild fabric cleaner or a homemade solution of mild soap and warm water will work well. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as these can damage the fabric and compromise the seat belt’s integrity.

How often should I clean my seat belts?

The frequency of cleaning depends on how often the seat belts are used and whether they get stained. As a general rule, consider cleaning your seat belts every three to six months or whenever you notice a stain or dirt buildup.

Can I remove my seat belts to clean them?

While it’s possible to remove seat belts for cleaning, it’s not recommended unless you’re familiar with the reinstallation process. Improper reinstallation can compromise safety. It’s usually easier and safer to clean the seat belts while they’re still attached in the car.

Can I machine wash my seat belts?

No, machine washing is not recommended for seat belts. The agitation of the washing machine can cause unnecessary wear and tear. It’s best to clean seat belts by hand.

What should I do if my seat belts are frayed or damaged?

If your seat belts are frayed, cut, or showing signs of wear and tear, it’s important to replace them. Damaged seat belts may not provide adequate protection in the event of a crash. Consult a professional for seat belt replacement.

Conclusion

Seat belts are one of the most important things when it comes to safety for you and your passengers. By using them over time, it’s natural for them to become dirty. 

I showed you the way I clean my car seat belts, and I always got great results. By following the steps in this article, you won’t damage seat belt webbings, and you’ll be safe when driving.

Probably, some of you will disagree with my opinion about using a pressure washer and a steam cleaner, but again, I don’t find using them entirely safe for seat belt webbings.

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