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Stop messing up your car seats

As tradies, parents, and pet owners our cars are constantly under the pump from mess. There’s always that mate that has no idea he’s dripping Maccas sauce all over the back seat, or that kid or pet that does what they do.

Stains look yuck…

For me, this message came home hard. After buying a second car for the family to get around in (the cheapest Hyundai ix35 I could find), my 3 year old begged us to swing into Maccas.

At first we hesitated. There was still an hour left on our drive home and she was tired. We didn’t want her eating messy food in that state; it’d be mess central. But like good parents, we caved. Ordered something with chocolate on it and kept on driving.

I didn’t much thought until I pulled her seat out to clean the car two weeks later. To my shock, the seats looked horrible (for context, they looked brand new when we got it).

confessions of a filthy car ... the mess on the back car seat

Needless to say. I wasn’t happy…

confessions of filthy car frustrated by mess under cat seat

But, it got me thinking how hard it is to keep new stuff looking new. Even for those of us who clean on the regular, you can’t always account for those moments that get away from you (I’m looking at you ‘apprentice’, babies, and dogs. We’re constantly one McFlurry away from disaster.

What you can do about it…

Thankfully, there are some seat covers that stop mess in their tracks.

Option 1: Canvas seat covers (waterproof)

Canvas Seat Covers

Canvas seat covers are one of the hardiest materials going around. You can hit them with water or dirt and these bad boys will fight back harder than Will Smith himself. Perfect for tradies, growing families, and campers. Also comes with a generous warranty and fitment guarantee. Shop seat covers that fit my vehicle

Option 2: Neoprene seat covers (waterproof)

Neoprene Seat Covers

Neoprene seat covers are hardy too. They’re waterproof and feel a little bit like a giant wetsuit over your seats. Despite how that sounds, a neoprene seat cover is actually quite nice. It’s ideal for growing families, tradies and outdoor-sy (beach-loving) types. Shop seat covers that fit my vehicle

Option 3: Microsuede seat covers

Microsuede Seat Covers

Microsuede seat covers are typically designed to look much like your original ‘factory’ seats. This is a great option for those who prefer their gear to blend in, not stand out. They’re not as hardy as Canvas though, so think about where and how you use your car before you get this set. As with the above, a good set will be engineered to be UV / fade resistant. Shop seat covers that fit my vehicle

Option 4: Fabric seat covers

Fabric Seat Covers

Fabric seat covers are very similar to microsuede. They have the ‘factory’ look and similar warranties. Biggest difference is probably the feel. Microsuede has a suede-like feel. Fabric is slightly firmer to touch. Fitment is guaranteed on these. Shop seat covers that fit my vehicle

Option 5: Sheepskin seat covers

Sheepskin Seat Covers

The grand-daddy of all covers, sheepskins are most at home in a late ’90s ford wagon. That said, these little guys are ridiculously comfy and are a great way to keep the kids pre-occupied (who hasn’t tried writing their name in the material?).

There’s two types of sheepskin seat cover.

    1. Genuine wool seat covers. These aren’t cheap. You might find a generic “fitting” front set of Merino covers going for $300-$400 and a made to fit set for $700-$900. Wool is great for comfort and will look like new even after the 1000th time you’ve sat in them. There is a risk to them, though. Unlike synthetic materials, the actual fibre can be stained. Obviously, this impacts the look of your covers. To get around this speed hump, you could always buy a black set.
    2. Fake wool seat covers are cheaper than genuine wool and give you the same plushy look. Probably debatable if they feel the same as the real deal (we’d lean towards, no). Another downside is they might not retain and disperse heat like a proper set would. Summary, a compromise in quality but for the $$$ it’s a noble alternative.

Option 6: Pet seat covers

Pet Seat Covers

Despite the name, pet seat covers are an excellent solution for a bunch of situations, not just pet owners. You could easily throw a cover over the back seat for the kids, under tools, or under the four-legged comrade, too.

It’s also a great option driver or front passenger. Yes, I said that. They’re easy to fold so you can go ahead and make it work for your setup. Versatility – check.

Another unspoken benefit is ease of installation. Since you’re using buckle clips, it means you can click them into place – pronto. Compared to seat covers it means less work, but on the downside, it also means less overall protection since it can only protect the section of the car you choose. Shop dog seat cover

What about installation?

Seat Cover Clip Types

There’s three mains types of installation in the seat cover market.

  • You’ve got Buckle clips. These are by far the easiest to fit and most secure option.
  • Velcro fitment is another good option but the jury is probably out on whether it is better than material ties. On one hand, it’s a neater solution but you can’t crank up the tension like you can with material ties.
  • Material ties can be tightened and tucked away out of sight.

Admittedly some will be harder wearing than others, but you do need to consider the overall price you’re paying when you consider the installation type. You could easily pay upwards of $500 for a set of covers that suit your car. So if you’re paying around the $200 mark for a full set, I wouldn’t be complaining too much about the tie down method.

Still wondering: why bother?

Protecting your car means different things to different people.

For some, potentially tradies with newer vehicles, it means having one eye on the resale value. A well maintained, unblemished interior might go a long way to securing the next buyer.

For others, it’s too late to stop new stains but it’s not too late to hide existing stains and stop it from happening again. They don’t want to look at mess every day.

And for some of us, they’ll be excuses for why it goes in the ‘too hard basket’ like…

  1. I’ll put it off until it’s a problem.
    • Reply: By then, it’s already too late, right?!
  2. They’re too hard to put on.
    • Reply: Have you got a spare 15 minutes? If yes, then you can do this.
  3. I don’t like the look of them.
    • Reply: Each to their own, but there are a lot of styles available these days so I’m sure there’s one that would work for you.

When seat covers aren’t a good fit for you…

It might come as a surprise for us to say this, but there ARE times when seat covers are not a good idea. They include:

  1. You own a car with leather seats. Covering up leather with material is like leaving the sunroof closed on a sunny day. It just shouldn’t be done.
  2. You can’t find a set that actually fits your vehicle. Avoid these like the plague. They’re saggy and won’t protect every inch of your seats.

Final word on Seat Covers…

Get a cover for your car seats and save yourself the pain I had. Prices start at $89. Fitment is guaranteed and shipping is always free.

Luke Samuels

Luke is the Marketing guy at FitMyCar. He's been writing & selling stuff online since the day he got his licence to drive and despite a lack of taste in cars, he's managed to work in one automotive role or another for half his working life.

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