Car Mat Cleaning is always fun until you get to the sticky stuff. Where the heck does that sticky stuff come from anyway? Sounds like a question my Mom would ask me in my early teenage years! What about you? Anyway I know where the sticky stuff comes from today. It's mostly gum from the kids and tar from the braniacs who do asphalt road resurfacing.
Maybe you had a birthday party in your van and the candles dripped on your carpeting. So here's the way to deal with these sticky problems on your car floor mats. By the way the same techniques usually work on your cars floor carpeting as well. Remember car mat cleaning can be fun!
Rubber Car Floor Mats : If you've got rubber floor mats for your truck or car it's easy to remove sticky stuff. Use a dull butter knife to scrape as much of the sticky stuff off as you can. Then use DeSolvIt or Orange Cleaner or Gum Remover to get the rest. In a pinch turpentine or other organic solvent will usually do the job too. Just be sure to test whatever solvent you are using on the back of the rubber car mat first to make sure it doesn't dissolve or otherwise damage the rubber or vinyl compund the mat is made of.
One way to prevent mat messes is to trap the mess on a universal absorbent car mat protector. These mats a quick and easy to remove and run through the washing machine.
Carpet and Gummy Stuff : If you need to get gummy stuff off your carpeted car mats or the car floor carpeting you've got some work to do. Bubblegum or other gummy like things are best frozen with a bag of ice cubes before you scrape them off the carpet with a dull butter knife. Once you've done all the freezing and scraping you can use a good solvent like Orange Cleaner, DeSolvIt or gum cleaner applied to a clean white cotton terry cloth to remove the remainder of the offending substance. Don't rub the sticky mess into your carpeting, rather, use the solvent infused terry cloth to squeeze the gummy mess off the carpet by pinching the carpeting below the gum and pulling up on the carpet.This prevents pushing the gum further down into the carpeting or spreading it around on top of the carpet.
Carpet and Wax : Ok, I agree, it's not your fault somebody had a birthday party in your car. Let's just get rid of the wax blob in the carpet. Start by freezing the wax blob with a bag of ice cubes, just like for gummy stuff above. Scrape the frozen waxy blob with a dull butter knife. Now here's the trick for wax. Dampen a white terry cloth rag, like an old white bath towel. Make sure you wring out all excess water. Place the white terry cloth over the remnants of the wax blob and place a hot iron over the terry cloth. I place a dry terry cloth over the damp one to suck up more wax and keep the wax from getting on my wifes iron. Push down pretty hard with the iron and heat until the wax wicks onto the terry cloth. The hot iron and terry cloth combo should wick up the remaining wax.
Carpet and Tar : I don't mess around with tar on floor mats or asphalt remnants stuck in my carpeting. I use a commercial tar remover product made for car mat cleaning or a solvent like WD40. Some of the products I've used with varying success include Citrus King Tar & Asphalt Remover and WD40. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer for a citrus product. For WD40 I spray it on the tar spot or patch and let it sit for 20 or 30 minutes and then use a white paper towel to pinch the spot and pull upward on the tar blob. Don't rub the tar spot, it will just spread the dissolved tar around and make your car mat cleaning project even bigger! Work the tar blob from the outside in, pinching the carpet and pulling up with each motion. You may have to repeat this several times to get all the tar.
Burn Holes in Carpeting, Mats or Upholstery : Burn holes, usually caused by your friendly cigarette or cigar smoker are especially hard to clean and/or hide from view. A burn hole repair kit made by Rekote is the only product I've seen so far to deal with this problem. Car mat cleaning can even be a side business since that burn hole repair kit from Rekote will fix a whole heap more of cig holes than you burnt in your carpet!!!