Car Upholstery Shampoo and Stain Removal -- What Stains Cannot be Removed & Why

**Car Upholstery Shampoo and Stain Removal is included in our Full Interior Detail service. We do not spot-remove stains or only treat stains. 

When it comes to interior detailing and stain removal services, Autodetail DMV is dedicated to providing top-notch solutions for our customers. While we strive to eliminate all types of stains from your vehicle’s interior, there are certain stubborn stains that may prove to be challenging to completely remove. 

These include stains caused by dyes, ink, and certain types of food coloring that have deeply penetrated the fabric or upholstery. Despite our best efforts, these stains may leave behind residual marks due to their composition and the extent of penetration into the material. 

It is important to understand that some stains may not be completely eradicated, but our team of professionals will work diligently to minimize their appearance and restore the overall look of your vehicle’s interior to the best of our ability. Let’s talk about the different kinds of stains and what factors may prohibit them from being able to be removed completely. 

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Different Kinds of Stains 


When it comes to removing stains from seats and upholstery, there are certain types of stains that may be more challenging to completely eliminate. Factors that can affect the difficulty of stain removal include the type of upholstery, the age of the stain, and the specific type of stain itself. For instance, stains caused by oil or grease tend to be stubborn and may require specialized cleaning techniques to fully remove. These types of stains can penetrate deep into the fabric, making them harder to lift.

Tannin/ Protein 

Another common type of stain is tannin stains, which are typically caused by substances like coffee, tea, or wine. Tannin stains can be difficult to remove because they can leave behind a noticeable discoloration on the upholstery. Additionally, protein stains, such as those from food spills or bodily fluids, can also pose a challenge when it comes to cleaning. These stains can set quickly and may require multiple cleaning attempts to fully eradicate.

What Kind of Stains May be Unable to be Removed and Why

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Dye Transfer/ Ink Stains

One common type of stain that can be difficult to remove is dye transfer stains. These stains occur when colored substances, such as ink or denim dye, come into contact with the vehicle’s upholstery or carpeting. Due to the nature of these stains, they can penetrate deep into the fibers, making them extremely difficult to fully eliminate.


Another type of stain that may be impossible to remove completely is mold or mildew stains. These stains typically occur in areas of the vehicle that are exposed to moisture, such as the floor mats or trunk. Mold and mildew can quickly spread and thrive in damp environments, leading to stubborn stains that can be challenging to eradicate. In some cases, the presence of mold or mildew may require professional remediation to fully address the issue.

Certain Chemicals: Bleach/Oil 

Additionally, certain chemical stains, such as those caused by harsh cleaning products or spills of substances like bleach or oil, can be extremely difficult to remove from the interior of a vehicle. These stains can cause discoloration or damage to the upholstery or carpeting, making them nearly impossible to fully restore. It is important for customers to understand that while our detailing services are comprehensive, there are certain types of stains that may require specialized treatment or may not be able to be completely removed. Anything that has been bleached will be impossible to remove. 

Factors that Affect Ability to Completely Remove Stains

Age of Stain 

It is important to keep in mind that the longer a stain remains untreated, the harder it may be to remove. This is why prompt attention to spills and stains is crucial in maintaining the appearance of your vehicle’s interior. Different types of stains require different cleaning methods, so it is recommended to consult with a professional auto detailing company to ensure that the stains on your seats and upholstery are properly addressed. By understanding the nature of different stains and the factors that can affect their removal, we will assess the likelihood of complete removal and keep you informed throughout our process so we are both on the same page before proceeding. 

UV Exposure 

When stains are exposed to UV rays, they undergo a chemical reaction that causes them to set into the fabric. This makes the stains extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove. The UV rays essentially act as a catalyst, accelerating the bonding process between the stain molecules and the fabric fibers. This reaction causes the stain to penetrate deep into the upholstery, making it stubbornly adhere to the material. Once the stain has set due to exposure to UV rays, it becomes a permanent part of the seat upholstery. 

Trying to Remove Stains Yourself 

It is important to note that attempting to remove stains without proper expertise can actually worsen the situation. Untrained individuals may inadvertently spread the stain or cause it to set deeper into the fabric, making it even more challenging to remove. Moreover, if stains are not addressed promptly, the heat from the steamer can cause the stain to bond to the fabric fibers, making it nearly impossible to eliminate. By relying on our professional detailers, customers can rest assured that stains will be effectively and safely removed, preserving the integrity of their vehicle’s interior.

Prius rear seat shampoo

Different Approaches for Different Stains 

Degreasers for Oil/Grease

Autodetail DMV utilizes a variety of specialized products to effectively tackle different types of stains that may be present in your vehicle. For oil and grease stains, we use powerful degreasers that are specifically formulated to break down and lift these stubborn stains from surfaces such as upholstery, carpets, and mats. These products are designed to penetrate deep into the fibers to effectively remove the grease and restore the cleanliness of the affected areas.

Peroxide-Based Cleaners

When it comes to tannin stains, such as those caused by coffee, tea, or wine spills, we rely on specialized cleaners that are gentle yet effective in lifting these types of stains without causing any damage to the surfaces. These products are formulated to target tannin molecules and break them down, making it easier to lift the stains from the affected areas. Our team is trained to use these products carefully to ensure that your vehicle’s interior is restored to its original condition.

Enzyme Cleaners

For protein stains, such as those from food spills or bodily fluids, we have enzymatic cleaners that are specifically designed to break down organic matter and eliminate odors. These products contain enzymes that target and break down the proteins in the stains, making it easier to lift them from surfaces. Our team is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to identify the type of stain and choose the appropriate product to effectively remove it without causing any damage to your vehicle’s interior.

Our Process

When it comes to removing stains, we follow a meticulous step-by-step approach to ensure the best results. Firstly, we identify the type of stain and select the most suitable product for treating it. This product is carefully applied to the stain, allowing it to soak and penetrate the fibers of the upholstery.

Once the stain has been thoroughly soaked, we move on to the next stage of the process. Using state-of-the-art steam cleaning equipment, we apply steam to the stain. This not only helps to activate the stain removal product further but also aids in loosening the stain from the upholstery. The combination of heat and moisture works wonders in breaking down the stain and preparing it for removal.

After the steam treatment, our skilled technicians employ specialized microfiber towels to lift the stain from the upholstery. These towels are designed to be gentle yet effective, ensuring that the stain is lifted with the least invasive techniques to preserve the fabric.

Our technicians repeat this process as necessary, carefully monitoring the progress until the stain is completely removed. We understand that some stains may require multiple treatments, and we are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for our customers.

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In summary, while we strive to provide the best interior detailing service and remove stains to the best of our abilities, it is important to note that we cannot guarantee the complete removal of every stain. 

However, we take pride in our track record of successfully eliminating numerous stains in the past. 

After thoroughly inspecting the interior of your vehicle, we will communicate with you transparently to ensure that we understand your expectations and are aligned before proceeding with the detailing process. Our goal is to deliver exceptional results and ensure your satisfaction every step of the way.

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