How to clean and repair the carpeting in your car

We faced a dilemma regarding the carpet in our 1965 Corvette. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t perfect. A complete replacement carpet kit from a company like Top Flight Automotive only retails for about $500–and less if you just redo the fronts.

But the minute you install that brand-new carpet, the rest of the interior will look absolutely dingy. And then the slippery slope begins and, soon, you’ll find yourself replacing the entire interior. And then the interior will look much better than the exterior and so on.

So, we wondered, could we patch the three holes in the carpet and put a light coating of color over the faded areas to keep the car looking original yet still better than previously?

Yes, we can do this.

We started with the holes.

To patch them, you’ll first need some matching carpet scraps. We were lucky enough to find the same style carpet in nearly the same color in the attic of a local upholsterer. (Note: We’ve gotten lucky like this before.) A small roll of this carpet cost us $20.

If you cannot find some carpet scraps, you can often steal some from elsewhere in the car–like beneath the seat, under the console or in the trunk.

The rocker panel had a big hole–likely a wear mark from entering and leaving the car. This hole only measured about an inch and a half across.

First, we vacuumed and cleaned the area with a suitable wax and grease solvent–think Prep-Sol or similar. Use scissors or a knife to clean up the hole in the carpet and remove any fragments. We have found that a rounded, uneven hole is easier to patch than a squared-off one.

Next, cut a piece of carpet and slip it in behind the hole. Now mark the shape of the needed patch.

Cut the carpet to fit.

Then glue the patch in place. We use Weldwood contact cement, available at any hardware store, and brush, rather than spray, the glue in place.

Once the glue has dried–apply to both the carpet and the body of the car–you can stick the carpet patch in place.

If the patch fits tightly, it should blend in. Some work with a small brush will help the pile line up, giving everything a uniform appearance.

Our patch’s color was close but not an exact match, so we painted the repair area with some CA interior dye in Bright Blue, sourced from Top Flight Automotive. Each can costs about $30, and the dye quickly dries.

This dye is designed for vinyl fabric, not carpet, but when applied in light coats, as we did, it camouflages the repair. When applying, think mist and not spray. We used this dye to mist the entire carpet and lessen some fading and staining.

We used this process to patch three holes in our Corvette’s carpet. (Since we couldn’t easily patch one hole behind the seats, we simply replaced that one piece.)

We also gave our carpet a deep clean as it was very dusty. It took vigorous brushing and vacuuming to fully clean.

The interior now looks and feels much cleaner than before. It’s certainly less dusty, too. We will get some Coco Mats to add more comfort while covering two of the patches.

The total cost of this project was about $75 including the glue and two cans of dye. We spent less than three hours on everything.

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