How to Clean a Seat Belt (Step By Step Guide)

How to Clean a Seat Belt

Seatbelts are undoubtedly one of the most essential parts of a vehicle’s interior. Every vehicle brand with an interior possesses one; from cars to trucks to airplanes and even space rockets.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had reported, that 97% of accident victims who had their seatbelts on, suffered minimum damage, and those who didn’t were made to experience fatal scenarios first-hand.

So, the simple gesture of buckling up your seatbelt may save your life, and any reason to not do so must be tackled firsthand. And that brings us to the problem of an unclean seatbelt. But the question is, how to clean a seat belt?

Can You Clean Seat Belts?

Yes, seatbelts could be cleaned, and while it is very easy to ignore the state of the belt, it is important to know that just as it is essential to have an environment that is hygienically fit, it is also necessary to have a clean seatbelt.

Dirty seatbelts could pose problems to the vehicle user as they usually retract slowly, trigger dust allergies, or stain clothing while contributing to an unappealing odor.

The day my seat belt stained my white shirt was the day I figured out how important it is to clean a seat belt. Trust me, it was horrible. Before I could get to the wedding, my white shirt was already a mess because of a dirty seat.

t=The worst part was that, because of how the dirt was, people figured out that it was my seat belt that stained the shirt. It made it look as if I’m a dirty person who doesn’t clean his car seat belt.

Understanding the Seat Belt

Before we get into the cleaning tips, let’s get to understand the seatbelt and all its parts.

The seatbelt has four components, and these are;

  • The Belt: Otherwise known as the seat belt webbing, It’s a woven polyester harness. This is where all the tensile stress is weighed. Slight damage to this safety harness will reduce its tensile strength and ultimately increase the risk of a tear.
  • The Latch/the Fastener: This is considered the power stress point of the belt, seeing that it is fastened to the vehicle’s floor and performs the objective of keeping the belt in place.
  • The Latch Plate: This simple hard piece of equipment usually made of metal, is what joins the belt to the latch.
  • The Retractor: This is where the seatbelt comes out from. It houses what is called a pre-tensioner, that locks the seatbelts movement in the case of an emergency halt.

Materials Needed to Clean a Seat Belt

To clean a seatbelt, you’ll need to gather a few household materials, and these are;

  1. A small soft brush
  2. A Plastic cup
  3. White vinegar
  4. Stiff bristled brush
  5. Dish soap
  6. Fabric cleaner
  7. Hand clamp
  8. Two microfiber towel
  9. Scrub pad
  10. All-purpose cleaner

How To Clean a Seat Belt

Here is a step by step guide for getting a vehicle seat belt cleaned:

  • Pull out the seatbelt to its longest possible length. (The seatbelt usually ranges from 60 to 90 inches in length)
  • Use the clamp to hold the end nearest to the retractor to prevent it from going in
  • Lightly spray the fabric cleaner on the webbing, and scrub with the soft brush against the direction of the fibers
  • Spray the fabric cleaner again and then scrub with the hard bristle brush or microfiber towel in the direction of the fiber
  • If little to no improvement is seen, mix the all-purpose cleaner with water at a rate of 3:1 respectively
  • Submerge the brush in the mixture, and then scrub the webbing in the direction of the fabric, be sure to use the minimum requirement on each area to avoid discoloration
  • For belts with strong odors, be sure to mix one tablespoon of dish soap and two tablespoons of white vinegar
  • Submerge the brush into the mixture, and gently scrub the webbing
  • Wrap the dry towel around the belt and squeeze.
  • Run the squeezed towel up and down the belt, until the belt is moderately dry
  • It should remain out of the retractor and air out till it’s completely dry.

While cleaning your vehicle seat belt, ensure you are using the right cleaner. Don’t just use any cleaner you see to avoid coloration. Avoid some cleaners like Windex and use all-purpose cleaners or seat belt cleaners.

What Is the Best Cleaner For Seat Belt?

A steam machine filled with a fabric cleaner makes the ultimate best fabric cleaner. This is because the steam pressure will blow dirt away and kill all microorganisms.

The steam machine is also unique as it minimizes the amount of moisture used and ultimately, uses less stress and time to dry off.

However, in a case where the seat belt seems like it can’t be restored, it is advisable to seek professional help from car pimping services or simply get a new seatbelt.

In case you’re worried about expenses, the price range of the full set goes for about $14 on Amazon and other online stores.

In case you plan to get an already used seatbelt set, be sure to check for wear or tear on the webbing, as this is ultimately dangerous, or rust on the latch plate as it could likely break while in use.

Pros Of a Cleaning a Seat Belt

It Helps to Reduce the Risk of an Allergy

Commuters who are either asthmatic or have allergies (especially triggered by dust) are safer in clean vehicles with clean seatbelts.

It Helps to Avoid Unnecessary Clothes Stains

Workers, students, and any event-goers are most likely to avoid embarrassing clothing stains in clean vehicles with clean seatbelts. Imagine the kind of embarrassment I felt that day my seat belt stained my white shit.

The truth is that I cleaned the seat belt. So, it’s not as if  I don’t clean the seatbelt. What happened that day is what I can’t explain.

Maybe I didn’t clean it very well or it accumulated another dirt after I’ve cleaned it. I felt so uncomfortable and left the ceremony before the time.

Fast Retraction

A clean seatbelt retracts faster, therefore, movement delays are limited. Some that complain that their seat belt doesn’t retract as fast as they do before should clean the belt and see if it solves the problem.

Less Odor

A dirty seatbelt contributes to at least 50% of the car odor, therefore, a clean seatbelt will equal 50%less odor and 50% more comfort.

Cons Of a Cleaning a Seat Belt

The disadvantages of not cleaning your vehicle seatbelt are:

1. Wear and Tear:

The frequent use of cleaning solutions and pieces of equipment on seat belts will weaken the fabric and eventually lead to wear and tear of the belt.

2. Accident Trap

Although the seatbelt will help commuters stay safe and still in the case of an accident, in a case where one attempts to escape a vehicle for whatever reason, a seatbelt might serve as a restraint and ultimately reduce the chances of a successful escape.

3. Health Hazard

Aside from being an accident trap, seatbelts have been known to rarely contribute to health hazards like abdominal pain or even a chest issue, but these could usually be avoided by the use of an extender.

NOTE: Seat belt extenders are basically extensions of the seatbelts. They are made of the same polyester material, a latch, and a latch plate.

It creates enough room for overweight individuals on the seatbelt. they usually have a length of about 25 to 30 inches. They usually cost about $10 to $17. The price is strictly dependent on the length and brand.

4. Presence of Allergens

The use of cleaning solutions can exterminate allergens like dust and oil spills on the seat belt, but this has an adverse effect as cleaning solutions might contain allergens for some commuters. It is important to find out possible allergens that are contained in cleaning solutions before use.

5. Discoloration

The constant or frequent use of cleaning solutions will eventually result in a discoloration of the belt, it is important to use cleaning solutions with a neutral ph. value (6.5 to 7.5)


Motor vehicle safety is highly important and should be taken seriously. A good way to ensure your safety during journeys is by taking care of your seatbelt.

Be sure to perform routine checks on all the seatbelts available in the car, and make sure all your commuting partners have their seatbelts buckled up during the commute.