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Summary
  • Mud season is the transitional time between winter and spring. Snow, rain, and melt tend to come together this time around, creating wet conditions.
  • When dealing with mud, the best way to clean inside the car is by waiting for the substance to dry before acting on it.
  • Mud flaps, splash guards, and floor mats are essential items to have in your vehicle when driving in muddy terrain.

Having a car is extremely convenient most of the time, especially when it’s pouring. Instead of lining up at the subway along with other commuters who’ve been drenched in the rain, you sit comfortably in your car. 

The issue, however, comes after the downpour. The next time you go for a drive, you’ll find a muddy vehicle on the driveway. 

The Mud Is Your Inevitable Foe

Mud-covered wheels and mud splatters on the windshield aren’t a good look for your vehicle. The substance makes your daily driver look dirty and worn out, and others might feel uncomfortable sharing a ride with you if you keep your vehicle looking that way. 

Mud season is a real thing, and it’s the transitional time between winter and spring. Snow, rain, and melt tend to come together around this time, creating wet conditions.

car covered in mud
Mud-covered wheels and mud splatters on the windshield aren’t a good look for your vehicle.

Mud is typically formed after rainfall, and muddy trails are most common near water sources. It’s often a combination of loam, silt, or clay soil mixed with water, but other mineral elements and organic matter are sometimes thrown into the mix. 

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It’s also possible for mud to contain exhaust fume particles, oil, street dirt, and other contaminants. These elements can potentially damage your vehicle’s body paint and sensitive interior components. 

The Best Practices When Cleaning a Muddy Car

You’re bound to drive over muddy terrain at some point. If you’re someone who prefers to wash their own car, truck, or SUV instead of going to the nearest car wash, then this guide is for you. 

Here are some of the best practices you can try out when cleaning mud off your vehicle. 

Removing Mud Inside the Cabin

When dealing with mud, the best way to clean inside the car is by waiting for the substance to dry before acting on it. 

Upholstery

Removing mud while it’s still wet will only cause it to smear all over the areas that are completely clean, especially when you’re dealing with upholstery. 

Once the mud has dried up, scrape off the big chunks using a flat card. Be careful not to push down on the mud as it can sink deeper into the upholstery. 

Scraping mud off the seats will probably leave some residue behind, so be sure to have a vacuum in hand to get rid of the remaining dust and dirt. 

From there, you can use a sponge or brush and your preferred cleaning solution to clean the area. 

Also, make sure to use a cleaner that’s safe to use on whatever surface you’re trying to clean. 

Floor Mats

For floor mats, you can use the same method as the upholstery. Take the floor mats out, and scrape off as much mud as you can. Then, use a pressure washer to get rid of the stubborn stains

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Carpet

When dealing with a muddy carpet, be careful not to use too much water. Similar to the upholstery, too much water can cause the mud to seep deeper into the fabric. 

Use an old toothbrush to clean the muddy spots, and use water sparingly. The goal here isn’t to cover the entire carpet with water, so only put water in areas where there’s mud. 

Apply mild detergent to the affected areas, and continue brushing until they’re clean. You can also try using a cleaning solution with enzymes, which are natural cleaning elements that can break down the dirt into smaller particles. 

Removing Mud From Your Vehicle’s Exterior

Removing mud from your vehicle’s exterior is a simpler process compared to cleaning the interior. 

A high-pressure washer will be your best friend when cleaning mud off the paint job and tires. 

If you have a foam gun lying around, you can use it to spray your preferred cleaning solution onto the exterior, and let it sit for a few minutes. Don’t forget to spray the underside, too. 

From there, you can proceed with rinsing the soap off using the same pressure washer or cleaning the vehicle by hand. 

Note: Make sure you’re not using too much pressure when cleaning your vehicle. Ideally, a pressure washer should only produce a pressure of about 1500 psi. Anything higher than that increases the risk of damaging or scratching your vehicle’s paint job. 

Essentials When Dealing with Muddy Terrain

You’re bound to deal with a muddy vehicle at some point, and there’s no guarantee that the cleanup job won’t be messy. Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can do to minimize the mud buildup on your vehicle, including the installation of mud flaps, splash guards, and floor mats.

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Mud Flaps

Mud flaps deflect water, mud, and other contaminants, preventing them from reaching the vehicle’s surface.

Mud flaps are mostly found in compact and midsize cars. These flaps are typically made from ABS plastic, thermoplastic resin, or polypropylene.

Splash Guards

Splash guards generally serve the same purpose as mud flaps. The only difference is that these are typically found in larger chassis like full-size and heavy-duty pickup trucks.

Splash guards are constructed from a softer material than mud flaps, so they can dangle freely behind the tires. They cover a larger area than mud flaps, deflecting more debris in the process. They’re also more flexible than mud flaps.

Floor Mats

Floor mats can be a piece of rubber, carpet, or a combination of the two. Some floor mats have grooves or ridges designed to keep liquid away from the driver’s feet, which is exactly what you’re looking for when the muddy season is right around the corner.

When shopping for floor mats, one of the things you should consider is the anti-slip function that comes with them.

It’s important to have a floor mat that doesn’t move around while you’re driving, so be sure to check if the mats have enough grip to stick to one place.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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