How to Clean Car Cup Holders

The cup holders in your car are some of the most common places that accidental spills occur. Whether the spill involves coffee, a soft drink, or your child’s juice drink, these little “accidents” can add up to a sticky mess in very short order. The question then becomes, just how should you go about cleaning your car cup holders? Below are some tips and tricks to tackle the sticky mess at the bottom of your cup holders.

The “Sock It to It” Method

First find a cup that fits securely into your cup holder. Next go to your sock drawer and grab a sock, the fuzzier the better. Stretch the sock over the bottom of the cup. Spray your choice of cleaner on the bottom of the sock. Insert the sock-covered cup into the cup holder and applying gentle pressure, rotate the cup in the holder. When you remove the cup, all that sticky gunk in the bottom of the holder will be collected on the sock. If any mess remains in the tight corners or edges, you can remove the sock from the cup, put your hand into the sock and with a few wipes, you can finish cleaning the holder. If the cup holder is really messy, you may want to spray your cleaner directly into the cup holder and allow it to dwell for a couple of minutes before using the sock-covered cup.

Helpful Sock & Cup YouTube video:

Hot Water and a Rag Method

Start by vacuuming any loose crumbs or debris that that have collected in the cup holder. Wetting down food crumbs or small pieces of debris will only make the mess worse. Next take a cleaning rag and soak it in hot water (paper towels will work but they will eventually come apart when dampened with hot water). Firmly press the wet rag into the cup holder so that it touches all the edges and sides of the cup holder. Allow the wet rag to sit in the holder for 5-10 minutes. After waiting, wipe in a circular motion as you remove the rag. You may have to repeat this process if all of the residue hasn’t been removed.

If the cup holder has a lot of built-up stickiness you may have to use an all-purpose cleaner or a solution of vinegar (white vinegar only) and water. Spray the cleaner/vinegar solution into the cup holder and allow it time to break down the mess. Follow this up with the rag soaked in hot water to finish the cleaning.

Interior Detailer and a Microfiber Towel Method

Saturate the cup holder with your choice of interior detailing product. Make sure to generously cover every part of the cup holder. Allow the detailing product to dwell for about 5 to 15 minutes. After being allowed to soak, use a microfiber towel to wipe away the cleaner and the mess. Check to see if everything has been removed, and if not, repeat the process. If you follow up this procedure with a protectant, future cleanings will be much easier.

Some of the top-rated interior detailing and cleaning products are those made by:

  • Car Guys
  • Chemical Guys
  • Nextzett
  • 303 Products
  • Meguiar’s
  • Armor All
  • Turtle Wax
  • Adams

The Drill Brush Method

Okay, some people hate doing any job manually, using only the power of their own two hands. If you happen to be one of these people, you’re in luck. There are several manufacturers of automotive detailing brush attachments for standard power drills.

Most brush kits are available for an investment of less than $20 and contain several different sizes of brushes.

Select the appropriate-sized brush that will fit into your cup holder and attach it to your power drill. Spray the cup holder with an automotive detailing cleaner. Then with the drill running at a low speed, gently scrub away any sticky mess that is in your cup holder. Use a low speed to keep from splattering the cleaner around the car’s interior. Use a microfiber towel to wipe and remove the cleaner, then dry the inside of the cup holder.

Helpful drill brush YouTube video:

One Simple Tip to Prevent Dirty Cup Holders

Are you frustrated and tired of cleaning your car cup holders. Here is an interesting solution. Line the cup holders with inexpensive silicone cupcake liners. If, or when, the next spill happens, simply remove the dirty silicone liner and pop it into your dishwasher. Once the dishwasher cycle is complete you can re-install the liner into the cup holder.