DIY: make your dirty old seats look new! (almost)

so, since most of us drive 17+ year old cars, as such, your interior cloth and such turns nasty and dirty. most likely 90% of us have torn drivers seats, and mostly those of us with the blue interior haha (for some reason it seems blue tears more.)

sooooo to make all that good, first of all you need the following:

-mommy that loves you
-cloth of choice
-washer and dryer
-laundry detergent

so, when i got my wagon the drivers seat was torn up and looked worse then my shop towels. (this seat wasnt the original, the original was nice and clean but the guy who sold it to me kept that seat without telling me, anyways long story...)

here is my original seat i saw from the Ad of my car way back when-

after i got the car i bought some upholstery cleaner at Auto Zone or whatever and that didnt do much... then i got my moms mini-carpet cleaner and anyways, that took some dirty and grime off but STILL it was brown. oh well, meanwhile my lovely mother sewed up the tears and holes with some plaid clothe like so. =) note, this is the seat AFTER 2 different cleans...

also the headrests were swapped out for ugly dirty ones as well. as you can sorta see.


well, later on i ran into a junkyard wagon and took the drivers seat which was considerably cleaner then mine. but it had a tear in the bottom cushion. well, i went with it for a while... then i was bored after winter break started, so i took the old dirty bottom cushion and removed the fabric part from the foam. its quite tricky, just take your time.

i then stuck it in the wash machine and washed it.. TWICE.

came out like so =D it the dirty brown seat now looks better then all the other seats, crazy!! when i get my lazy ass up, i may just wash all the rest of the seats like this ;) for the headrests, i filled up the kitchen sink with warm water and detergent, then i massaged the headrests in there a few times will they came out nice and clean. the water afterwards was so disgusting... its not even funny :shock:




    Great job! Thanks for da info.
  • wagodizzlewagodizzle Council Member and EDM expert
    no problem ;)
  • DRMORTYDRMORTY Council Member
    I am removing the fabric and foam off of my 2WD passenger seat frame and putting it on my AWD drivers seat frame. That way I will have a matching set of un-torn OEM seats for the AWD. My 2wd is getting a perfect condition matching set of 89 CRX Si Black and Grey seats. I have done the fabric removal and switching for years with my CRXs... I never thought of washing it while it was off the seat..

    But now I am going to have to try this whole fabric washing thing out..

    Looks good!

    So Now I will end up with a set of CLEAN OEM Seats... Frickin SWEET!
  • any more details on how u removed the fabric from the foam?
  • can try this, seat upside down otherwise the foam will be soaked ..

    max 1800psi/120bar etc high pressure cleaners ...

    and yeah, were are the diy pictures

    great info dizz, thnx
  • wagodizzlewagodizzle Council Member and EDM expert
    genedaddy wrote:
    any more details on how u removed the fabric from the foam?

    yeah um, very carefully :mrgreen: first of all separate the upper seat back from the lower seat. there are like 2 bolts or something, anyways, very easy. oh also you need to remove all the plastic covering and stuffs.

    from there, start cutting all the little metal clips that basically hold the fabric to the foam. work your way towards the center of the seat... again, carefully. once they are all cut the fabric will just come off. now there will be like three metal bars that go across the bottom along the cushion. remove these as well (so you can put the fabric in the washer).

    do so haha.

    installing the fabric back involves getting new clips, or just some thick fence wire like i did and making your own "clips." just put stuff back... blah blah, but yeah just take your time. it'll take a few hours start to finish (including the wash).

    for rear seat back, i dont really know. i didnt do that yet haha.

    but check out this link, its pretty good ;)
  • There is a video somewhere of some heavy set blonde chick at a car wash with her door open power washing the inside of her car. :lol: :lol:
  • Thanks for the link! That looks like an actually accomplishable project.

    I'll bet it wouldn't be too hard to make a pattern from an old, ripped-up seat. Then I could install anything I wanted...
  • EDwEFprtsEDwEFprts Senior Wagonist
    wagodizzle wrote:
    ...start cutting all the little metal clips that basically hold the fabric to the foam...
    ...installing the fabric back involves getting new clips, or just some thick fence wire like i did and making your own "clips..."
    when i swapped pans for 1 of my seats, i just bent the clips out of the mounting holes. when i reinstalled them i just bent them back. no need for new clips.
  • wagodizzlewagodizzle Council Member and EDM expert
    i did too initially, but couldnt bend them back :lol:
  • fettcolsfettcols Wagonist
    I picked up a set of hog ring pliers and 400 hog rings from sears. It was like twenty something.

    Anybody ever tried to put the fabric from and 88-89 passenger seat on to a 90-91 driver's seat?

    They look about the same but of course there is that auto/manual belt thing happening. Sometime in the coming weeks I'll be looking into attempting this if somebody hasn't already determined it doesn't work.
  • DougWertzDougWertz Band Wagon
    If you use a carpet shampooer, it's much, much simpler. Given that it has a smaller attachment.
  • wagodizzlewagodizzle Council Member and EDM expert
    yeah i used that about 4 times over the seats, worked a bit but not what i would have liked.
    throwing it in the washwachine did wonders compared with the shampooer
  • I just saw your ad on craigslist i recognized the plaid from this post haha
  • nice, might try this with my recaros
  • so i'm guessing you line dried them as opposed to throwing them in the dryer?
  • wagodizzlewagodizzle Council Member and EDM expert
    yeah, air dry.
    im pretty sure my dryer would have done some damage lol
  • A Sears wet/dry vac, biggest model is like $100, does a great job of sucking dirt out of seats when ya scrub them.

    We use Agent Orange, hot water and a plastic scrub brush with two people. One scrubs (me) and the little woman runs the vac so the foam doesn't soak up to much soap.

    It takes a while. often ten or more passes on an area including flooding the seats with a hose a bunch of times at the end to make sure the detergent is all out of the fabric and foam.

    The seats need to air dry for a few days anyway but they get really clean.

    Be careful about shredding and fuzzing the fabric. Be sure to remove the filter from the vacuum so the water doesn't ruin it.

    An extra hose or three allows the machine to be placed farther away where it won't make you deaf.

    Once the seat(s) are dry, iron on patches work well for holes - denim/bluejean material is our favorite for the blue interiors - there are different shades, some more faded out.

    We tried taking the fabric off one seat and much prefer just pulling the seat and flooding it in the driveway to the complete removal of the fabric method.

    A big shop vac is the best tool on earth... :)

    We also 'flood clean' the carpets and suck them out after rinsing with the hose many times over, using Agent Orange there too.

    The first time she thought the carpets were worn out... It was just sticky dirt like a spilled soda that had 'locked the carpet fibers' in solid dirt for years - comes out looking brand new.

    Be careful squirting the hose inside the car. Floors are designed to be soaked, the under dash area and seat belt wires are not supposed to get dunked.

    Also, real Windex is the best cleaner - stain remover we've tried so far. Seems to be ammonia but not too strong. I'd be wary of using ammonia on the seats, don't know if it would melt the foam.

  • simplyhondasimplyhonda Council Member
    Never really thought about hosing down the entire seat! Sounds effective. I went with the fabric removal method. A royal PAIN! Very time consuming process, but in the end - well worth my time and I feel like I got a better patch job that way too. I figure I had about 8-10 hours just in fabric removal and replacement.
  • JDMWago666JDMWago666 Senior Wagonist
    Wow! I have to try this on my wagon. The seats are nasty. Didn't see this posted but has anyone tried to reattach the seat fabric with zip ties instead of the clips? Just thought maybe it would work, just a thought though.
  • wagodizzlewagodizzle Council Member and EDM expert
    dude above did ^^ works just as well, and is way easier then using the metal clips.
  • JDMWago666JDMWago666 Senior Wagonist
    Sweet! I'm gonna try that than. My seats are FILTHY! Thanks
  • moebiiusmoebiius Wagonist
    if you hose the seats, won't the seat pan and other metal parts eventually rust out? seems like they would to me
  • marklmarkl New Wagonist
    I take the seat covers off and drop them off at the dry cleaners. They will look brand new and smell great.

  • Ok this is awesome.. I was actually telling him that i was gonnahave to do a patchwork job on my seat lol. But im girly so it works. I was just gonna go with a cutesy material. My backseats are horrible..So I am going to try to clean those up. So your mom just stiched patches on?
  • Im Gonna Give that a shot and see how mine come out, thanks for the info !
  • I would love to see a DIY on how to remove the seat covers if anyone is going to do this and can post up some pics would be great!
  • imdbuiimdbui New Wagonist
    spede18 wrote:
    I would love to see a DIY on how to remove the seat covers if anyone is going to do this and can post up some pics would be great!

    same here. I just picked up some near perfect OEM seat fabrics and would like to see how you guys have done it.
  • simplyhondasimplyhonda Council Member
    Couple of pics in my build thread.
    Basically just get a good pair of wire cutters, start on the bottom front of the seat pan and start cutting off all the rings you see. Once you start peeling back the fabric, you'll find more. Cut them all and the seat covers will come off. Not too bad, just takes time.
  • the process was super tedious...we just got lazy and cut off all the rings and took out all the metal wires so it can be thrown in the washer...we probably only used a total of 6 wires out of 20 to put back in place. we used zip ties in place of the rings just cus its so much more easier and convenient. striped an original driver side seat cover from the ONLY civic wagon at the nearby junkyard that coincidentally had the same colors. whew! :p now my seats are nice, clean, and purty.

    we even stripped out the whole carpet and scrubbed them down too. it was a very long day but worth it.
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