How To Clean Car Cup Holders: 3 Easy DIY Methods

You can easily clean your car cup holder by wrapping a fuzzy sock soaked with a cleaner around a tumbler that fits into your cup holder. Twist the tumbler around the cup holders to remove dirt.  Mix white vinegar and water equally in a small bowl. Pour the solution halfway into the cup holder’s surface and leave for a few minutes. Suck up the solution with a sponge and dry with a microfiber cloth.

how to clean car cup holders

Easy Ways To Clean Your Car Cup Holder

Your car cup holders can be a nuisance. From coffee spills to crumbs and lint, they easily become the dirtiest spot in your car and can be difficult to clean. Well, you’re not alone. Most of us hate cleaning our car cup holders. But we do it anyway because we also hate having a messy car interior.

Fortunately,  cleaning them is not as difficult as you may think. In fact, it only takes a few minutes every week.

This article will show you three simple yet effective methods on how to clean cup holders. Each of these DIY methods will help save time and money.

So let’s get started.

Clean With Socks And Tumbler

Fuzzy socks are perfect for cleaning your car cup holders because they’re soft enough to absorb all the grime and sticky residue. And they’re cheap, so you won’t feel bad when you throw them away.

Materials Needed:

  • Clean fuzzy socks
  • Cup or coffee tumbler.
  • Multipurpose cleaner
  • Microfiber towel


  • Start by removing any garbage in your cup holders. Ensure you remove rubber inserts and clean them separately in a dishwasher 
  • Find a coffee tumbler that will fit snugly into your cup holder and wrap it in the fuzzy socks.
  • Spray enough multipurpose cleaner onto your sock and let it soak for a few minutes.
  • Insert the tumbler into your car cup holder.
  • Twist the tumbler in the cup holder with moderate pressure to scrub away all the dirt, grime, and stains.
  • The sock collects all the sticky gunk in the bottom of the holder when removed.
  • Check for stains that may remain lodged in the corners of the cup holder, and wipe them off using a detailing brush or cotton swab. 
  • Use a microfiber towel to dry the cupholders.

Clean with Vinegar Solution

Vinegar is a natural cleaner that kills bacteria and removes stains. Plus, it smells good enough. They are also cheap and readily available at any grocery store.

Here’s how to use it:

Materials Needed:

  • White vinegar and warm water
  • Soft sponge
  • Microfibre Towel
  • Small detailing brush
  • Dryer


  • Mix white vinegar with warm water in equal proportions to form a cleaning solution. 
  • Soak a microfiber towel in the vinegar cleaning solution
  • Press the soaked microfiber towel inside the cup holder and wipe around to remove dirt.
  • If tough stains remain, fill the cup holder halfway with the vinegar solution. 
  • Leave for about 2 minutes to lose the hard bits.
  • Then, use a sponge to absorb the solution from the cup holder.
  • Check the tight corners for dirt and use a detailing brush to remove them when necessary.
  • Dry your cup holders well with a clean cloth or a hand dryer. Ensure they are dried thoroughly before using them again to avoid mold growth. 
  • Enjoy your new clean car cup holder.

You should avoid using cleaners that include harsh chemicals or components because it is dangerous to breathe in these chemicals while driving. Other safe alternatives to white vinegar are baking soda and lemon juice.

Use Automotive Drilling Brush Kits

Automotive drilling brush kits come in various sizes and shapes, making them perfect for cleaning all sorts of surfaces. I recommend using them to clean your car cup holders because they’re cheap, easy to use, and effective.

Materials needed

  • Multipurpose cleaner
  • An automotive drilling brush kit
  • Microfiber towel
  • Spray bottle


  • Pour your multipurpose cleaner into a spray bottle.
  • Spray the cleaning solution into the cupholders.
  • Attach the appropriate size drilling brush to your power drill.
  • Drill gently into your car cup holders to remove sticky gunk.
  • Use a microfiber towel to clean everything out once you are done brushing. 

Tips to keep your cup holders clean Always

After spending so much time cleaning your car cup holders,  you want them to stay clean for the longest time possible. You can prevent further stains from your cup holder by using these tips:

  1. Check your dashboard, carpet, and other splash zone areas for stains and dirt. Because your car cup holders aren’t the only part that got soiled when you spilled drink or food in the car. To avoid transferring dirt back to your cupholders, make sure they are fully cleaned.
  2. Buy cleanable inserts like ‘silicone cupcake liner.’ They come in various sizes, so you’ll always find the perfect one for your cup holder. You can easily remove them whenever dirt accumulates and clean them in a dishwasher.
  3. When traveling, always use lid mugs and close the plastic tab when not drinking from the cup.

FAQs on How To Clean Car Cup Holders

Does Spilled Soda Cause Mold?

The simple answer is yes. The science behind mold growth is complex, but basically, mold thrives in wet, damp, and humid conditions and will return and reproduce if those conditions are recreated.

How Often Should I Clean My Car Cup Holder?

Car cup holders get dirty easily but can typically get neglected. You should clean them at least once a month. However, it is recommended that you clean at the first signs of dirt, grime, or stains. 

How much does it cost to replace a car cup holder?

A cup holder replacement may cost between $10 and $300 depending on the car, size of the cupholder, and the material it’s made from.  If you are having a hard time finding where to buy a cup holder, try purchasing one at your local auto parts store or a trusted online store like Amazon.

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