My car(Honda civic vti) is about 20 years old and the car seats are extremely dusty. Just tapping causes a lot of dust to fly up along with my eczema.

I know steam cleaning would clean a lot but I think it only goes partially deep. Would a jet wash as used by car detailers be a more effective way to remove dust?

A friend has told my car has the typical smell of an old Honda and it’s just dust. I imagine neither steam or jet was can get to the sponge center, as such should I expect the smell to still remain even though reduced?

I don’t think something like ozone can help since it does remove dust.

  • A HEPA vacuum cleaner?
    – Martin
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 20:12
  • Will that vacuum it all out though, it smells like it’s deep within the fibers and maybe underneath? Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 20:22
  • Get plastic seat covers...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 20:36
  • @SolarMike what about leather seats covers, will they work? I’ve seen a nice pair. Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 20:43
  • @SolarMike in another answer you said don’t try to hide smells with covers. I imagine u were talking about smells like mound rather than dust and so it’s fine to just keep dusty smells covered? Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 20:45

2 Answers 2


At 20 years of age, the foam in the seats may be starting to break down, causing the dust you see, which could actually be powdered foam coming through the upholstery fabric. This is more likely in a warm climate where in-car temperatures exceed 150F routinely in summer, but it can happen anywhere that the car is left out in the sun for extended periods of time. If the seats are truly that bad, and vacuuming with a powerful shop vacuum doesn't resolve the problem, no form of washing likely will either. Anything you do is likely to be a short term fix at best.

For your health, it may be time to consider either having the seats replaced/recovered, or replacing the car. A quality set of aftermarket seat covers might dampen down the dust, but expect to pay a significant amount for a good set.

The car is well beyond its intended design life, and things like this start to happen when they get as old as yours. I wish I had better news. Good luck to you!

  • How powerful vacuum should it be? I mean is there a rating I should ask a car detailer about? Are u saying the smell is invisible dust, therefore if it vacuums that all up the smell will go, if so wouldn’t it require a very fine filter? Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 22:42

As ggariepy says you may have a foam dust problem but then you're seats may also be full of regular dust and other smells. If so you may want to try a wash and vac by a valeting company.

In the case of your car, it is possible to remove the seat covers, check the condition of the foam and if good, just wash the covers in the washing machine then put them back on. You can also buy aftermarket seat covers for your car as well as probably buy them from the dealer.

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