Addressing the Sticky Mess: How to Clean Car Cup Holders

Addressing the Sticky Mess: How to Clean Car Cup Holders

The car cup holder is a convenient feature that helps us keep our beverages within reach while driving. However, it often becomes a sticky mess over time, accumulating spills, crumbs, and dirt. Cleaning car cup holders can be a daunting task, but with the right methods and tools, you can restore them to their pristine condition. In this article, we will guide you through a step-by-step process on how to clean car cup holders effectively.

1. Gather the necessary supplies

Before diving into the cleaning process, gather all the necessary supplies. You will need:

  • Cleaning wipes or a microfiber cloth
  • Mild dish soap or multipurpose cleaner
  • Warm water
  • Cotton swabs or toothbrush
  • Paper towels or a clean cloth
  • Optional: a small vacuum cleaner or handheld vacuum

2. Remove loose debris

Start by removing any loose debris from the cup holders. Use a vacuum cleaner or simply shake out the crumbs and dirt. This step will make the cleaning process easier and more effective.

3. Wipe down the cup holders

Next, take a cleaning wipe or a damp microfiber cloth and wipe down the interior of the cup holders. Make sure to reach all the corners and edges, removing any visible stains or spills. If you don’t have cleaning wipes, you can dampen the cloth with warm water and a small amount of mild dish soap or multipurpose cleaner.

4. Scrub stubborn stains

For stubborn stains or dried spills, you may need to use a bit of elbow grease. Dip a cotton swab or toothbrush in warm soapy water and gently scrub the affected areas. The bristles of a toothbrush can reach into tight crevices and corners, ensuring a thorough clean.

5. Rinse and dry

After scrubbing, rinse the cup holders with clean water to remove any soap residue. Use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe away the excess moisture. It’s essential to dry the cup holders thoroughly to prevent mold or mildew growth. You can leave the car doors open for a while or use a clean cloth to ensure complete drying.

6. Consider removable inserts

Some car cup holders have removable inserts or trays. If your cup holders have this feature, take them out and clean them separately. You can wash them with warm, soapy water and dry them before placing them back into the cup holders. Cleaning removable inserts makes the overall cleaning process much more efficient.

7. Prevention tips to keep cup holders clean

To prevent future messes and maintain clean cup holders, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Use cup holder inserts or coasters to catch spills and crumbs.
  • Avoid placing open or unsecured containers in the cup holders.
  • Regularly empty and clean the cup holders to avoid accumulation of dirt and debris.
  • Consider using silicone cupcake liners or silicone mold liners as cup holder liners. They are easy to clean and can protect the cup holders from messes.

8. Other cleaning hacks

If you encounter stubborn stains or odors that are challenging to remove, you can try the following cleaning hacks:

  • Baking soda paste: Mix baking soda with a small amount of water to create a paste. Apply the paste to the stains and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing it off.
  • Vinegar solution: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the cup holders, let it sit for a few minutes, and wipe it clean with a cloth.


Cleaning car cup holders is essential for maintaining a tidy and hygienic vehicle interior. By following the steps and tips outlined in this article, you can effectively address the sticky mess and keep your car cup holders looking fresh and clean. Remember to gather the necessary supplies, remove loose debris, wipe down the cup holders, scrub stubborn stains, rinse and dry, consider removable inserts, and follow prevention tips to maintain cleanliness. With a little effort and regular cleaning, you can enjoy a mess-free driving experience.