In this guide we’ll show you:
- If you need a washable car or truck seat cover
- What to look for when buying a seat cover that you can wash
- How to clean your seat cover
So, let’s get started…
Do You Need a Washable Seat Cover?
The right car seat cover will protect your car or truck from stains, sweat, and odors...but do you need one that’s washable? Ask yourself these questions to find out:
How much do you sweat?
If you’re a heavy sweater, either because of exercise or you just naturally perspire more than others, getting a washable seat cover is important. Sweat is bad for your car seat, and even if you don’t sweat a ton, the oils that secrete from your skin can seep bacteria into your seat cover leading to funky smells and grime.
Getting a seat cover that you can toss in the washing machine will help you keep those nasty bugs at bay!
Even if you don’t sweat much, your car seat cover will smell if you don’t clean it regularly.
Here’s the deal: if you buy a seat cover that’s not washable, it’s just going to build up body oils, spills and stains over time. Why get a seat cover if you can’t wash it?
How often will you use it?
If you plan to use the seat cover infrequently - maybe just when you have guests in your car, or only on long road trips, you may not need it to be washable. If instead you’ll be using it regularly - every day, or weekly, then getting a washable seat cover is the way to go.
What will you use it for?
Do you like to stay active? Are you an athlete, or enjoy outdoor sports? Do you have a manual or dirty job?
If you do any of these activities, you’ll want a seat cover that you can toss in the washing machine whenever it gets nasty:
- You exercise regularly
- You’re an athlete
- You love the outdoors
- You have a pet
- You drink coffee, other liquids, or eat in your vehicle
- You work outside, do manual labor or have a dirty job
- You live near the beach
Do you live in a warm climate?
If you live in the south or anywhere that gets hot in the summer, you’ll want a cover that is washable. If you don’t have a washable cover, all of that funky bacteria from your sweat will cause odors and bad smells and you won’t be able to do anything about it.
It’s much easier to throw a seat cover in the washing machine whenever it gets funky than having to buy a new one each time your old one gets rank.
What to Look For When Buying a Washable Car Seat Cover
When shopping for a washable car seat cover there’s a lot to consider:
Like most products, there’s a wide range between the least expensive and most expensive washable car seat covers...and like anything in life, you get what you pay for.
If you’re looking for a temporary solution and just need a car seat cover for a couple days and then you won’t use it again, you can get away with buying a cheaper option - typically around $20 or $30, but know that you’ll likely have to replace that product in a short amount of time.
If you want to invest in something that is higher quality and built to last, expect to pay up to $200 for a high quality seat cover.
Do you want a seat cover that’s branded with your favorite sports team? Are you a hunter and want something camo? Or is pink your favorite color?
Whatever your style is, you can find a seat cover to match...but be careful of only getting a seat cover for style, because lots of branded or “pretty” seat covers are low quality and ineffective at stain and odor protection.
Don’t sacrifice function for fashion, when you can have both.
A good sign that a seat cover is durable, is that you can clean it in the washing machine. Why is that? Washing machines degrade fabrics over time, so if a seat cover is built to handle a washing machine, you can be pretty sure it can handle wear and tear from every day life.
A good way to make sure the seat cover you’re looking at is built to last is to view reviews from people who have purchased it. If you can't see reviews, make sure you can return the seat cover if you're not happy with it.
Custom Fit vs Universal Fit
Do you want a seat cover that fits your vehicle like a glove? If so, you’ll want a custom car seat cover...but know that custom seat covers require a longer installation, are meant to stay on for good once they’re on (so washing is going to be difficult), and are often more expensive than universal fit seat covers.
Universal fit seat covers are often simple to install, come off easily, and are typically less expensive than custom fit. We’ve put together a universal car seat cover buying guide that can help you choose the best seat cover for your vehicle.
Why Will You Use It?
Are you using your seat cover for yourself, your passengers, or your pets? Any seat cover that is used for pets is going to get hair and other slime on it (which is cool, we’re dog people!) but you want to make sure you can clean it easily.
If you're using it for human passengers, think about what you (or they) will be doing.
Do you surf? Do you hunt? Do you drive an Uber or Lyft vehicle? Whatever it is you'll be using the seat cover for, make sure to buy a product that matches that need.
Do You Want To Remove It Easily?
Removable car seat covers are going to install quickly and come off even quicker. This is important if you plan to wash your seat cover, otherwise you'll dread taking 30 minutes or longer each time you want to clean it.
Make sure you know how long it takes to install the seat cover, and if you plan to get it dirty often, get one that's easy to remove and put back on.
You can see how to use Dry Rub seat covers here - they install in seconds.
Machine Washable vs Spot Cleaning vs Hosing Off?
There’s lots of “wetsuit” seat covers that are made of neoprene, and while neoprene is waterproof, it’s not meant for the washing machine and will degrade there.
Some car owners want a seat cover that stays on permanently and can just hose off clean. Know what you want before making a decision because those covers are harder to install and remove and typically can’t be cleaned in the washing machine.
Some seat covers are washable by spraying with a hose...which can be great if you have a vehicle that is meant for that...but don't do this if you have any cloth or leather in your interior!
How to Clean Your Seat Cover
Most seat covers are made of fabrics that are similar to performance apparel, so you’ll want to wash it the same way. Typically you’ll want to machine wash on cold in a delicate cycle with less detergent than you think you’ll need.
How to clean your seat cover:
- delicate cycle is best
- use less detergent than you think you need
- use cold water
- hang dry for longevity
The Best Car Seat Covers For You
Buying a washable car seat cover can be difficult because there's lots of options available, including plenty of low-end, poorly made products...so you'll definitely want to do your research.