Cleaning fabric trim, with our awesome Fabra Cadabra
Having a number of cars with fabric seats, door trims, carpet, seat belts and hood linings, we needed to develop a good cleaner for them - something effective at cleaning, safe for all the different types of fabric and something to help remove the musky smell some car interiors can get from sitting around for a period of time.
Learning from our mistakes
We have had some painful experiences with cloth trim in cars and incompatible car care products. One big U.S. brand in particular badly stained/bleached the colour of the dark fabric where we used it (yes, following their instructions), which was upsettingly irreparable. The only solution was for it to be re-trimmed. You learn from your mistakes, and after many years the idea of a good fabric cleaner was put to our chemist. It didn't take him long as he had past experience in the field and we came up with our new Fabra Cadabra. Named like this as we think it's pretty magic at removing stains and cleaning up fabric trim.
Why it works so well
Fabra Cadabra has a deep cleaning formula, which works by removing the stains and other foreign items from the individual threads of the fabric, whilst not being damaging to them or most importantly, the stitching. We've found it cleans up oil, grease, meat pies, soft drinks, hair gel (don't ask), cattle dog muddy feet marks, kids marker pens (treat them ASAP before they dry), ladies foundation and mascara, chocolate, ice cream, coffee, blood, yellowing (usually from sweat or red bull drink) and a variety of other unidentifiable stains. The most important thing to remember is that you need to clean any stains off ASAP - the longer you leave them, the harder they can become to remove.
Fabra Cadabra has no solvents in it, so it's safe for ALL colour-safe fabrics and stitching, new and old. Always test a small area you cannot see first if you have any concerns.
We added in a pretty cool ingredient that rejuvenates the colour back to your trim whilst your're cleaning - something needed with a lot of older cars that have not been cared for that well.
Our chemist sourced a nice, fresh fragrance that helps remove odours in the car while you're cleaning; something we greatly appreciate with some of the musky smells the old cars can get at times after sitting around for a few years. When used with our Pong-Go, it's great at helping get rid the pong of a smokers car as well.
Alcantara, suedes and natural leather suedes
All cars nowadays, especially the more expensive exotics use a synthetic suede, micro-suede, or Alcantra, made from microfibre, which our Fabra Cadabra is 100% safe to use on.
This product is not suitable for older natural leather suede - something that was pretty rarely used in cars and after years of failures, never now. You cannot use any liquid on this type of material, if you do get marks in it, the best suggestion we have is to go and get a melamine sponge or our magic rub bar, use this to try and remove any marks you may have in it.
Using it is easy
It's quite simple. We use it with our Square Bear applicator pad and separate Plush Daddy interior cloth for the job, although as a second best option, you can use a quality small square cleaning sponge as an applicator and a separate microfibre cloth. Its best to do it in the shade, preferably indoors, in a reasonably well ventilated area (wind your windows down).
Another option is to use it with a shampoo extraction machine. You can dilute the Frabra Cadabra solution 10:1 (10 parts water to 1 part Fabra Cadabra). Use your shampoo machine to spray the solution onto the area, then suck it up. The magic in the Fabra Cadabra solution will do its work and remove stains right before your eyes.
Get to it quick
Firstly, it's very important to try and get to the stain as soon as it's happened. The longer you wait, the more it gets set in and is harder to remove.
Closely inspect the area and marks to be cleaned, to determine what they are, removing any heavier substances, like meat pie material or sauce with a damp cloth, or a plastic knife/spatula. Note that items like glue, wax and chewing gum cannot be removed with Fabra Cadabra (to remove those ones, put a plastic bag with ice on the area and then after 10 minutes when it has hardened, work at chipping it away as delicately as you can).
Blotting is best
Always give the area your're about to clean a good vacuum so you're not pushing anything lying on the surface into the interior fabric whilst trying to clean it.
Don't spray the product directly into the interior fabric!! For the best spot and specific mark cleaning, spray about 4 squirts of the Fabra Cadabra into the applicator pad, making sure it has good coverage on the pad. Then apply in a blotting motion from the outside of the mark to the inside, so your're not pushing the stain onto new areas of the fabric trim. Don't scrub it either, just use the same blotting motion so you don't push the stain even deeper into the fabric (this is especially the case for something like tomato sauce and grease).
Check the applicator often
Keep an eye on your applicator for built up dirt. Turn it over to the clean side if it looks excessive as you dont want to be rubbing this back into the fabric. You can machine or hand wash the microfibre applicator with our Microfibre Wash once you're done as well.
Release the stains
Let it sit for about 1 minute, then apply the same way again. The ingredients in the Fabra Cadabra are this time working at releasing the stain from the fabric threads, so with the second application you will notice it had begun to leave the trim. You may with some stains, need three to 4 applications like this.
After your're happy that you've removed the stain, wipe it down with the interior microfibre cloth to help it dry. Leave it sit for about 20 minutes with the car doors open and then finally once dry, give it one last vacuum to pull out any other material the Fabra Cadabra has removed from the fabric threads.
An overall clean
Now you may notice after this that the trim you have cleaned can be a slightly different lighter, cleaner colour to the rest of the trim. What this means is that the rest of your trim is dirty and could do with a freshen up! So again, spray the Fabra Cadabra into the applicator pad and apply it to the rest of the area you want cleaned, in short, soft strokes across the fabric. After doing this again, let it dry and give it a final vacuum.
Other fabric surfaces
For carpet stains, use a similar procedure to above, with just a few extra sprays used into the applicator pad as the material is a bit denser than trim on your seats or doors.
NEW CAR SYNTHETICS: ULTRA SUEDE AND ALCANTRA
Use exactly the same cleaning method as mentioned above, just being sure not to wet the fabric too deeply. Lightly brush the surface with a soft bristle brush once it's vacuumed and dry, to keep the material nice and soft.
If you have old, dirty seat belts, just spray the Fabra Cadabra into the applicator and rub into the dirt and grime inflicted areas. You'll be amazed how well they can come up. We have some white ones that were filthy and they came back like new with not much work.
We have used this formulation on numerous types of trims from new exotic fabrics, basic well used trim (from our courier delivery drivers trucks) to delicate old ones (like the 1979 Brock A9X used in these images) and had great success with them all. Fabra Cadabra can be found in our best supporting stores across Australia. You can find your closest one on our stockist page.
We like getting your questions and queries on any of our products, so feel free to contact me about any you may have. My email is [email protected] and our work phone number is 1800 351 308.
Love your car,