How To Clean Car Interior?

Once you open your car door and a whiff of an odorous smell greets you, then you might have been neglecting cleaning the interior of your car.

Keeping the exterior of your car presentable and neat, and keeping the car interior pristine and dust-free help foster a healthy environment. If you enjoy spending a great deal of time on the road, having a fresh-smelling car should be on top of your list.

Learning the basic know-how in cleaning your car interior will not only stop the buildup of grime, dirt and dust from snowballing. It will also promote a longer vehicle life.

How to Clean a Car Interior

Now that you have decided that you finally want to try cleaning your car interior on your own, and saving a few bucks, the next thing on your mind is how to clean a car interior.

There are many effective ways to bring back that sparkling interior your car once had. Below are ways to clean your car interior to make it look brand new like before.

Carpet and Seats

How To Clean Car Interior - Clean Carpet and Seats

Dust, dirt and spilled elements can affect the upholstery and carpet of your vehicle. Avoid the effects of wear and tear by regularly cleaning your car’s interior.

What You Need:

(Carpet)

  • All-purpose cleaner or degreaser
  • Spray bottle
  • Carpet brush
  • Air blower or Air nozzle
  • Microfiber towels

(Seats)

  • All-purpose cleaner or degreaser
  • Spray bottle
  • Carpet brush
  • Hot water extractor

What To Do:

Using your water bottle, spray a considerable amount of degreaser or an all-purpose cleaner diluted in distilled water on your carpet and seats.  Agitate the stains and grime with a carpet brush, making sure to distribute the solution evenly.

For your carpet, use the air blower or air nozzle to blow off all the grime and catch all the dirt with a microfiber towel. Then, get another unsoiled microfiber towel to dab and wipe clean the carpet area which was air blown.

This method is usually done by a professional auto detailing personnel, but can easily be a DIY technique you can do right at your own garage.

For the car seats, after spraying them with a degreaser, use a carpet brush to scrub in the solution and lift off dirt and grime. Follow it up with the use of a hot water extractor for a more professional-looking finish.

What Not To Do:

Do not let stains or spilled particles remain on your carpet and car seats without cleaning it up instantly. The longer the stains remain in the interior upholstery, the harder it is to extract them.

Tips:

Before you start cleaning your vehicle’s carpet and seats, remove and shake out the floor mats. Be sure to pick up all small items that may have landed on the car floor or stuck in the crevices of the seats.

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Leather and Vinyl

How To Clean Car Interior - Clean Leather and Vinyl

You may not be able to recapture the mint condition of your car. However, it is important to keep your vehicle smelling fresh.

Do not allow a musty smell to contaminate your interior space. Taking care of the leather and vinyl details of your car will allow you to enjoy a blissful ride.

What You Need:

(Leather)

  • Leather cleaner
  • Leather conditioner
  • Car brush
  • Microfiber Cloth

(Vinyl)

  • 2 clean sponges
  • Vinyl Cleaner
  • Vinyl protectant
  • Cotton cloth
  • Vacuum (optional)

What To Do:

(Leather)

Squirt leather cleaner on the tip of a brush. The idea is to build up a foaming lather. Start scrubbing, but avoid applying too much pressure as you would not want the natural hide of your leather interior coming off.  Then, wipe it off with a microfiber cloth and lastly, apply leather conditioner.

(Vinyl)

Using a damp sponge, clean all vinyl areas of your car such as the glove compartment, dashboard, sides of your doors and if you have an old car then, include the seats. You may also use a vacuum cleaner. If your vacuum has a brush attachment, you can do some dry, thorough dusting.

Spray all stains or spots with a vinyl cleaner and wipe it off with a clean sponge. Apply vinyl protectant onto a clean cloth and allow the protectant to sit on all the vinyl portions of your car interior for at least 10 minutes.

Wipe any excess residue with a clean cotton cloth and continue to apply protectant until you have reached your desired shine capacity.

What Not To Do:

Do not drench the leather interior with water.  Too much water can get through the seat seams and seep in the cushions.

Do not apply the vinyl protectant directly on the surface as this will give you an uneven and patchy finish.

Since vinyl protectant is slippery, avoid applying it to the pedals or steering wheel.

Tips:

Do not let the foam or lather of the leather cleaner dry up, as this would only redistribute the dirt.

Vinyl protectants come in two variants, shiny and matte. Test in a hidden part like your dashboard, before deciding what look you prefer.

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Hard Surfaces

How To Clean Car Interior - Clean Hard Surfaces

A bit of cleaning and protecting makes a difference on the hard surfaces inside your car. Bask in the glow knowing the proper techniques and prevent ruining your dashboard and door panels.

What You Need:

(Dashboard)

  • Microfiber towel
  • Interior car spray cleaner
  • Cleaning brush
  • Low gloss protectant

(Door Panels)

  • Car cleaner
  • Car brush
  • Microfiber towel
  • High gloss protectant

What To Do:

(Dashboard)

Wet or lightly mist-spray with plain water your microfiber towel. The damp microfiber will lift the dust as you glide it smoothly across the dashboard. Then, directly spray the   interior spray cleaner onto the bristles of the car brush.

Immediately wipe this off without letting it dry. Otherwise, dust is going to stick onto your dash. Once you have wiped the cleaner and dust off, this will leave you with a completely clean dash pad.

Next, use a low gloss protectant by spraying it onto the brush. Be sure to saturate the dash with the protectant, applying it evenly onto the panel and buffing it off using a clean towel. Make it a point to cover all spots to leave you with an even finish.

(Door Panels)

Use a car cleaner and car brush to clean all the constricted spaces and textured surfaces. Douse your door panels with a high gloss protectant. Be certain to have an even coverage to avoid getting a blotchy finish. Polish the protectant using a microfiber towel.

What Not To Do:

Never use any type of spray inside the interior of your car.

Do not use a high gloss protectant finish on your dash so light will not be reflected on your eyes and affect your line of vision.

Tips:

Using a car brush is highly recommended over using a towel, as brushes can reach into the crevices where the dash meets the glass.

Windshields

How To Clean Car Interior - Clean Windshields

Even old cars may look appealing, especially if you keep the interior well maintained. To say the least, windshields should also be kept clean and clear as nobody wants a drab and dull looking car. Dingy looking windshields obstruct your view while driving.

What You Need:

  • Glass cleaner
  • Fresh glass towels for drying with low pile
  • Buffing towel with a higher pile
  • Cleaning towel

What To Do:

Wet through your cleaning towel with a glass cleaner and wipe down the windshield initially in a horizontal manner, followed by a vertical wiping motion using moderate to heavy pressure.

Then, use your drying towel to absorb all the dirt, oil, and grime. Follow through with a soft buffing towel to eliminate any traces of streaks or blur from the glass.

Clean both sides of your windshield checking for any spots that you may have missed.

What Not To Do:

On no account should you use a glass cleaner with ammonia. Always check that your glass cleaner is safe to be used for tint.

Tips:

Be careful not to let the protectant come in contact with your windshield as it is tedious to remove any stains.

Low pile cleaning towels work well in absorbing dirt and oil from the glass; high pile cleaning towels help in buffing all the streaks away.

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Touch Screens

How To Clean Car Interior - Clean Touch Screens

Over time, grease, grime and fingerprints build up. This is why it is relevant to know the proper way of cleaning a touchscreen in most new cars.

What You Need:

  • Interior spray cleaner
  • Microfiber
  • Cotton bud

What To Do:

Spray the interior cleaner directly onto your microfiber and not on the screen. Start wiping without applying too much pressure to avoid leaving marks or streaks on the touchscreen.

Use the cotton bud for hard to reach corners.

What not to do:

Do not use ammonia based cleaners as this will affect the anti-fingerprint feature of the touchscreen.

Do not use substances such as solvents, alcohol, alkaline or acidic solutions as this will cause discoloration on the screen.

Tips:

Only a high quality microfiber must be used to safely clean the sensitive glass on your touchscreen without scratching.

Touchscreens need to be cleaned frequently as dirt hampers the touch sensitivity.

Final Word

Remember to routinely clean your car interior by tossing the trash every single time. Trash is the main source for that musty, mysterious odor that envelops your car interior. Always do a quick dusting and do not let spills dry up without spraying an upholstery cleaner.

Keeping your vehicle clean can deter accidents as the smallest amount of dirt can affect visibility. What a difference a bit of cleaning and protecting makes to maintain the car’s efficiency and resale value, and eliminating the bacteria that thrive in unkempt car interiors.

Contacting outside germs is preventable if you know how to clean the car interior by the DIY techniques mentioned. With the onset of the coronavirus, it is important to decontaminate your car interior, especially the high-touch surfaces.

Sanitize your vehicle to prevent harboring any harmful virus. Start using your car in a safe and worry free manner by starting with a clean car interior.

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