When you take your car for routine cleaning, it not uncommon to see that seat belts are the most ignored part of the entire upholstery. Though it takes less time and resources to have seat belts cleaned, you will find many car owners dismissing the fact that seat belts can be dirty. Dirt or smudges on the seat belts are as a result of leaving traces of oil or dust when adjusting them. You may be having pets in your car that may leave smudges on the belts.

You do not need to be an expert to take care of your seat belts, all you need to know is the best approach on how to clean seat belts. I will introduce you to two simple methods that you can use to clean your seat belts. I can guarantee you that both processes are effective and will take less of your valuable time.​


Method 1: Hand Cleaning​

This involves cleaning the seat belts with soap and water or in a mixed solution of liquid soap and vinegar.

What is Needed​

  • A small clamp or clothes Peg for preventing the belt from retracting when cleaning
  • Liquid Soap or any good upholstery cleaner
  • Rag or a piece of cloth (usually a soft towel)
  • Vinegar for removing stubborn stains
  • A small basin with warm water


Step #1: Create the mixture​

Pour the warm water into a small basin and mix liquid soap and vinegar. You should be sure to use just a few drops of vinegar and enough soap to get a thick liquid foam. While the soap is a natural cleaner and toxic remover, the vinegar will give your seat belts a refreshing scent and deter the growth of mold on the belt due to dampness.

Step #2: Unbuckle the Seat Belt​

Detach the belt from the buckle and pull it out as far as the belt allows. You may need the assistance of another person for this to happen.

Step #3: Clamp the Belt​

Use a cloth peg or the clamp to prevent the belt from retracting back to its casing. Attach the peg at the base of the reel.

Step #4: Cleaning it Up​

Dip the cloth into the mixed solution and gently rub it on the belt as you run the length of the seat belt. Be keen on areas that have stains on them by rubbing in the vinegar until it remains clean. This is a continuous process. To keep the cloth refreshed keep damping it on the mixture for better results. Make sure to clean both sides of the belt and let it dry.

NOTE: Retracting a damp belt may create a conducive atmosphere for mold to grow which will present a risk to your health.​

You can proceed to work on the other belts as this one continues to dry.​

Step #5: Retract the Belt​

When you are sure that belt is completely dry, you can remove the clamp to allow the seat belt to go back to its position.​

Method 2: Pressure Washing

This method is recommended if your seat belts are too stained or you want to have the whole upholstery cleaned as well. Pressure washing may spill a lot of water on the seats that is why most people prefer using this mode of cleaning during routine interior cleaning. I will insist that the use of pressure to wash seat belts is not for the faint-hearted.

What you Will Need​

  • Pressure washer
  • A spray can
  • Scrubbing pads
  • Liquid cleaner
  • Clamps or peg
  • A piece of soft cloth


Step #1: Create the Solvent​

Pour a mixture of liquid soap or your favorite stain remover agent into the spraying can.

Step #2: Pull out the Seat Belt​

Unhook the seat belt from the buckle and stretch it out to its maximum. Once done you can close the door to hold on to the belt to avoid retraction.

Step #3: Spray the liquid soap on stains​

Direct the contents of the spray can to seat belt paying close attention to areas with stain and smudges.

Step #4: Scrub to Remove Stains​

Use the scrubber to gently clean the belt by running it along the grain to avoid ruffling the material.

Step #5: Rinse Using the Pressure Washer​

At this stage, the belt is well soaked in liquid soap. Before it dries up, adjust the pressure washer to fan out water, avoid using a direct jet stream. This should be strong enough to remove dirt from the seat belt and rinse it properly.​

Step #6: Let It Dry Out​

When you are finished cleaning the belt, allow it to dry before releasing it back into its housing. You can speed up the drying process by using a dry towel to suck moisture from the seat belt.

NOTE: The Part of the seatbelt that was trapped inside the car can also be cleaned using the same method. You need to be extra careful not to use too much water from the spray to wet the seats.​

Great Cleaning Tips

  • When selecting the cleaning liquid, avoid those that have strong scents as they can irritate your eyes or skin when cleaning. Ammonia based cleaners will damage the texture of the seat belt because of their strong bleaching properties.
  • The pressure washing method may need an extra hand because of the intricate process required to hold on to the pressure equipment and holding the seat belt.
  • Regardless of the material used for your type of seat belt, make sure you pick a sunny day to clean the belts so that you can spend less time waiting for them to dry up.
  • As the belts are drying, you can clean the buckles and check if there is any lurking problem with the seat belt mechanism. If you like attention to detail, then this is the best time to think of polishing the buckles.


Seat belts are an essential part of the vehicle safety mechanisms. I would say they are the most used parts or accessories of the car. This means they are subjected to all manner of dirt from food spills, greasy hands, or even dust through the window. This is why as a motorist, learning how to clean seat belts is vital to make sure that this overlooked device gets as much attention as any other part of the vehicle.

Apart from the two alternatives shared in this article, the third option would be to take out the entire belt assembly and clean the seat belts separately. This method requires an expert in seat belt lock mechanism. If you want to go this route, my advice would be to take your car to expert auto cleaners who will do this for you.

Cleaning seat belts may be a straightforward thing to do and to get the best results you should plan to do the cleaning at the time when you do not need the services of the vehicle in two to three days. This will allow time for complete drying and airing of the seat belt.​

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Chief editor at Paul's Gigantic Garage. I came up with this blog to help you to sort out some basic problems your car may be facing and in turn, save lots of cash by some of my DIY tips that I hope will get your car out of its current situation. I also had in mind motor enthusiasts who for the love of cars who are constantly looking for information about cars on the latest trends, questions, fixes, driving, tricks, and accessories.


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