How to Clean the Sticky Cup Holder in Your Car

A coffee cup in the cup holder of a car
No one likes a dirty car interior. If you’re like many people, you spend hours in the car commuting to work each day. You want a tidy, clean-smelling vehicle to get you from point A to point B. So what do you do when you’re faced with a grimy, sticky cup holder?

Maybe you took a sharp turn, and some coffee spilled out the top of the lid. Or perhaps one of your kids left a paper cup half-filled with juice sitting in the cup holder for a whole week. Whatever the reason for the sticky mess, get your cup holders clean again with these tips.

How to Clean a Removable Car Cup Holder

Many vehicle manufacturers anticipate the need to clean car cup holders, so they include removable plastic or rubber liners. These are the easiest types of cup holders to clean because you can simply run them through the dishwasher on the top rack.

After the cycle completes, retrieve the cup holders from the dishwasher and assess how clean they are. There may be some leftover slime, which you can simply wipe away with a rag. Stubborn messes may need a second round in the dishwasher.

Alternatively, you can place removable car cup holders in a bucket of warm, soapy water. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes, and then attempt to scrub them. If grime remains, let the cup holders soak longer and scrub them again. Rinse, dry, and return the cup holders to your car in pristine condition.

How to Clean a Non-Removable Car Cup Holder

If your cup holders can’t be removed from the car, you need to clean them where they are.

For mildly dirty cup holders, follow these steps:

  • Place an old sock on the bottom of a tumbler or other large cup.
  • Spray the sock with glass cleaner or all-purpose cleaner.
  • Twist the tumbler around the cup holder to scrub out minor spots and stains.
  • Finish off by vacuuming the cup holder with a shop vac, one of the most important interior car cleaning supplies.

For particularly grimy cup holders, follow these steps:

  • Dampen a rag with warm, soapy water and squeeze a little puddle into the cup holder. Let the water sit for a few minutes.
  • Wedge a dry rag into the cup holder to soak up the water and wipe away the residue.
  • If stickiness remains, soak the cup holder again.
  • This time, wrap a dinner knife in a rag and rub it around the perimeter to more effectively remove stuck-on gunk from the creases.
  • If dark stains remain on light-colored cup holders, rub in a few drops of lemon juice with a clean cloth.
  • Rinse and dry the cup holders, and enjoy the spotless results!

How to Prevent Future Messes

After working hard to clean your car cup holders, you want them to stay that way for as long as possible. Try these tips to prevent future messes:

  • Insert silicone cupcake liners into your cup holders to catch crumbs and spills.
  • Always use travel mugs, not open cups, and close the plastic tab any time you’re not drinking from the cup.
  • For mugs without a plastic tab, stuff a folded straw in the opening to prevent spilling while you drive.

Now that you know how to clean a car cup holder, you shouldn’t dread this chore so much. For help with other home cleaning needs, rely on the professionals at Molly Maid. Our team is fully licensed and insured for your peace of mind. Contact your local Molly Maid today for a free estimate!