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Yes. You can wash some seat covers in the washing machine.

Your car seat covers take the brunt of the dirt and stains that could have gotten to your car seat, so it’s okay to wash it when it’s soiled. Otherwise, it may go fade.
Nevertheless, some car seat cover materials are meant to be wiped with a wet cloth while others just need a proper brushing or vacuuming so, it’s important to be sure your material is even meant to be washed at all.

Most fabric materials can be machine washed because they are mostly made of cloth materials eg:

  • Velour can be machine washed as it is a knitted fabric made from cotton or synthetic material like polyester.
  • Polyester is suitable for machine washing as it dries quickly, is resistant to abrasion/wrinkles, and is durable.
  • Neoprene is suitable for machine or hand washing. Better to avoid a washer, but if you must, then use a delicate setting.
  • Sheepskin can also be machine washed with wool skin shampoo using a delicate wash setting because just like fabric material, it’s not hard or waterproof.
  • Neoprene is more suitable to be hand-washed because they are waterproof and durable. Hand Wash with water and pat dry with a towel.
  • If the leather seat cover must be washed, it should be hand-washed because it’s too strong. Better cleaned in sections with a damp sponge.
  • Vinyl should be hand washed because it is plastic-based but better cleaned in sections with a damp cloth and uses microfiber to dry.

To wash your seat covers using the washer, you should do the following;

  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions for washing
  • Remove the straps to avoid getting caught in the washer’s agitator
  • Vacuum off any debris
  • If there is a stain, apply stain removers
  • Use warm water and soak
  • Use a compatible mild detergent
  • You can use laundry detergent but check the ingredients to be sure they don’t contain bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or ammonia (These can damage your seat cover)
  • Spin the seat cover using a short wash cycle and delicate wash setting
  • Run an additional rinse cycle to remove all traces of detergent
  • Put out the cover and let it air dry

Some of the Don’ts when using a washing machine for your seat cover:

  • Avoid using bleach
  • Do not use harsh washing products
  • Avoid using strong wash getting
  • Avoid adding other fabrics
  • Do not use a dryer (To avoid shrinkage)
  • Do not dry under direct sun

I always recommend getting seat covers for new car owners. And clean the seat covers regularly to preserve the value of car upholstery.

  • Read the manufacturer’s washing instructions
  • Remove the seat covers properly
  • Assess if the material is washable
  • Verify if it is compatible with a washing machine
  • Ascertain if it’s better to hand wash rather than machine wash

Well, the answer to this question depends on who you are asking and the reason for their preference. But for the record, the major differences and comparisons between washing by hand and machine washing are as below:

Delicate Cleaning

In machine washing, the materials are rubbed against each other during the spin, while in hand washing, the hands (which are softer) are rubbed against the material.

Physical Energy

Washing machines save more physical energy than hand washing.

Power/Electricity Consumption

The use of washing machines consumes power and incurs electricity bills while washing by hand does not require any kind of electricity.

Water Usage

More water is consumed by washing machines when compared to hand washing.

Clean to Perfection

Hand washing your car seat covers is more likely to produce a cleaner result when compared to a washing machine, especially in the area of spotting and removing stains.


Washing machine saves more time than washing with hands.

More materials in less time

When you use a washing machine, you can load lots of material at the same time but with hand washing, you wash one at a time.

You should definitely go for handwashing if;

  1. You have time and energy to spare
  2. You have reservations about incurring high water and electricity bill
  3. Your car seat cover is delicate and you can’t risk it fading out or shrinking

Alternatively, you should opt for machine washing if;

  1. You don’t have issues with high electricity and water bills
  2. You are in haste and don’t have time to spare
  3. Your car cover does not have delicate material and you have no qualms about changing it in an event of a mishap

To further guide you on the best choice to go for when washing your car seat covers, you should consider the study by Frederik Scheid et al on Textile quality depletion supports the fact that machine washing influences the structure of materials negatively which makes handwashing a better option. And yes, seat covers are totally worth the cleaning. Learn how to identify unsafe covers here.

Hope this post clears your doubts when it comes to maintaining and taking care of your seat covers. Read on if your seat cover doesn’t fit and slide over each time you wash and reinstall DIY or by professionals.

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