How To Get Detergent Out Of Car Carpet

How To Get Detergent Out Of Car Carpet (No Need To Panic)

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You’ve just finished a grocery run and are pulling your groceries out of your car. As you do so, you notice that the cap to your newly-purchased laundry detergent has come off. The liquid has oozed all over your car!

If this happens to you, don’t panic. Laundry detergent won’t damage your carpets and you can get it off your car carpet with a few quick steps. 

It will take you between one and six hours to clean laundry detergent off your car carpet. You can do so using a wet/dry vacuum, by blotting and sponging, with kitty litter, or with a carpet cleaner. 

Break Out the Wet/Dry Vacuum

If you own a wet + dry vacuum you can get it out of your car carpet fairly quickly. Before you start vacuuming up the liquid, however, make sure that you dampen the carpet with some hot water. 

You want to thoroughly saturate the carpet. THEN, once you’ve taken the time to get the carpet wet, you can run your wet/dry vacuum over the damp carpet. This should suck up the majority of the sudsy water.

Once you finish with the vacuum, you’ll notice that the stain is still damp. Give the stain a few minutes to settle before you repeat the above steps. 

Even though it’ll take a minute (or, er, twenty) little by little, the laundry detergent should come out of your car’s carpet. At the end of the process feel free to pat the area dry with some old towels to get up any lingering moisture.

Soak Up the Suds

Detergent Spill On Car Carpet

Not all of us are blessed with a wet/dry vacuum on hand. In fact, quite a few of us don’t have a wet/dry vacuum at all!

If you’re in this bucket don’t worry. You can soak up the sudsy detergent with some old towels and a bit of water. 

Start by soaking up any loose liquid so that it’s off the carpet. Once you’ve got the worst of the liquid up, soak an old towel in some 

Now, with the worst of the wet off the floor, mix a cup of distilled white vinegar with two cups of hot water. Add it to a spray bottle and spritz down your floor. 

Using a dry towel, press down on the stain to lift up the vinegar water (and the detergent with it). You’ll need to alternate between spritzing and drying quite a few times, but pretty soon you’ll have that stain out of your carpet!


For those who have a lot of time on their hands, cornstarch (or any other absorbent for that matter) is a great way to get the laundry detergent out of your car’s carpet. 

For this method, pour a large amount of cornstarch onto the laundry detergent stain. Make sure that you cover the stain with the powdery stuff. Don’t worry about making a mess, we’re going to clean that up later. 

Leave the cornstarch to sit on the stain for about an hour. When the time is up, come back to your car. The powder should be crusty and dry (yuck!) and ready for you to vacuum up and throw it away. 

Now, grab a few paper towels and press them into the detergent stain. This should soak up the remaining detergent from your car’s carpet.

Pro Tip: the more quickly you apply the cornstarch after the spill, the easier it’ll be to get the laundry detergent out of your floor.

Cornstarch On A Wooden Table

Use Your Trusty Carpet Cleaner

The easiest method for getting rid of laundry detergent in your vehicle is to simply steam clean your car carpet. Before you do, however, it’s best to use one of the above methods to get up the most possible detergent.

Once you have done so, fill your steam cleaner with a cleaning solution as advised on the manufacturer’s label. Then, fill the water compartment with hot water. 

Gently run the steam cleaner over the detergent stain as many times as you need. Once you feel that the stain has a normal texture and can no longer see visible traces, your job is complete. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Dissolves Laundry Detergent?

Out of all the methods you can use to get laundry detergent out of your carpet, the only one that will dissolve the detergent is to apply hot water and vinegar. That’s because distilled white vinegar has acidic properties that break down and dissolve the detergent.

How Do You Get the Smell of Detergent Out of Your Car?

Although most people don’t find the smell of detergent unpleasant, some do. To get rid of the smell, dab a small amount of distilled white vinegar onto the stain. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before blotting it dry. 

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