How to Clean the Seat Belts in Your Car
Updated on October 02 2023
Most car owners spend time cleaning the exterior and interior but forget about the one thing that gets used the most when you drive: the seat belts. We all know that seat belts are an integral safety component in any modern car. But did you ever think about cleaning the seatbelts?
The seat belts in your car can quickly collect dirt, oil, sweat, food stains, and spills without you even noticing it. In some cases, the seat belts may have a funky, musty odor due to mold growth inside the spooling mechanism. And since those belts are touching your clothes, hair, and (sometimes) face while inside the car, periodically cleaning the seatbelts is a stellar idea.
The best part is you don’t need to purchase expensive cleaning products to clean and disinfect the seat belts in your ride. All you need is time, patience, and a few everyday household items to get the job done.
How to Clean Seat Belts
- Warm water
- Dish soap
- Mild laundry detergent
- Spray bottle
- Medium cleaning brush or old toothbrush
- Microfiber towels
- Metal clamp
- Vinegar (optional)
- Baking soda (optional)
Step 1: Park the vehicle.
Park your car and engage the hand brake. Make sure you won’t be using your vehicle for the next two to three hours before deciding to clean the seat belts. The seat belts will be damp after cleaning, and you don’t want to place a moist seat belt across your chest.
Step 2: Pull the seat belt out.
Pull the seatbelt forward until it doesn’t move anymore. Next, place a metal clamp near the seatbelt reel to hold it in place. It’s crucial not to let the seat belt spool back in before, during, and after cleaning. Retracting a damp seat belt is an effortless way for molds and mildew to start growing in a heartbeat.
Step 3: Inspect the material.
Now is the best time to inspect the webbing on the seatbelts. Did you notice signs of damage or fraying on the belt webbing? If you do, replace the seat belt immediately. You don’t want to gamble with a broken or damaged seatbelt while on the road. In addition, now is an excellent time to check for stains or deep-seated dirt in and around the seat belt.
Step 4: Prepare the cleaning solution.
Grab a small spray bottle and fill it up with a teaspoon of dish soap, two pinches of laundry detergent, and warm water. Shake the bottle lightly.
Step 5: Spray and clean.
Spray the cleaner directly on the seat belt and use a medium or stiff brush to agitate the material lightly. When brushing, use an up-and-down motion; do not brush in circular motions to prevent damaging the fabric. If you can help it, try brushing in the direction of the webbing. Also, avoid soaking the material with too much cleaner. Two or three sprays per section are enough.
If you don’t have a cleaning brush, you can use an old toothbrush. The trick is to scrub lightly to prevent frays on the webbing. The seat belt may feel light and soft to the touch when dry, but it can withstand up to two tons of force in an accident, and the webbing structure makes this all possible. Even the tiniest hint of damage or fraying on the webbing could affect the integrity of the seat belts in a crash, so scrub lightly.
If there are hard-to-remove stains on the material, spray cleaner directly over the stain, allow to soak for five to ten seconds, and gently agitate using a toothbrush. You may need to spray and brush two to three times to remove most deep-seated stains.
Step 6: Wipe Dry.
Grab a dry microfiber towel and lightly press the belt on the cloth to absorb excess moisture. Again, avoid exerting too much pressure. The goal is to remove as much of the cleaner without drying the belt completely.
Step 7: Allow to air dry.
Allow the belt to air dry before removing the metal clamp to retract the seatbelt. Leave the doors and windows open for an hour or two until the seatbelt is dry to the touch. At this point, you can start cleaning the other seatbelts.
How to Remove Molds and Odors from Seat Belts
Similar to other fabrics, seat belts are not immune to funky odors. If your car’s seat belt has a nasty, moldy scent, here are the steps to make your seat belts smell like new.
Step 1: Mix the cleaning solution.
Mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a small cup of warm water. Alternatively, you can also use dish soap mixed with a teaspoon of vinegar and a cup of warm water to remove molds, mildew, and funky odors. Dip the toothbrush in the cleaning solution and gently scrub the belt, focusing on any mold spores that you find along the way.
Step 2: Wipe dry.
Grab a dry microfiber towel and gently press on the belt to remove excess moisture.
Step 3: Allow to air dry.
The final step is to allow the belt to air dry. Again, do not remove the metal clip and avoid retracting the seat belt until completely dry to the touch.
Cleaning the seat belts in your car at least twice a year will preserve the look and color of the material. On the other hand, you should consider cleaning the seat belts twice a month if you have a Grab or TNVS car.