“Vacuum, destink, wipe, brush and polish. Be sure to use the right solutions for the right parts of the car and do it regularly for maximum effect.”
Most drivers remember to keep the exterior of the car clean, but detailing the interior is often overlooked. Professional detailing can cost a lot, but doing it yourself can save you money; and it is pretty easy. In addition, keeping your car interior (and exterior) clean will not only prevent things from breaking down but also extend its value at resale.
Carpets and floor mats tend to be the filthiest; so it is probably the best place to start your interior cleaning. Of course, it might be best to save the carpets to last if your seats and dash are particularly dirty because cleaning them will make a mess on your carpets. Don’t forget to remove all kinds of debris that has accumulated on the floor, and adjust seats to ensure you don’t miss anything.
✔ Vacuum the carpet thoroughly, using different nozzle attachments to clean seams and gaps around the seats.
✔ Steam clean with a carpet cleaning foam product of your choice.
✔ Don’t get the carpet too wet as moisture can lead to mold and mildew. If it does get too wet, blot it dry with a clean, absorptive towel.
✔ Use specialized or extremely strong products for stubborn stains.
✔ Use commonly known methods for unconventional debris like chewing gum
- rub it with an ice cube for several minutes until the gum hardens, then carefully pull it off the carpet.
✔ Take the floor mats out of the car and shake off all the dirt, especially anything stuck in deep dents.
✔ Vacuum grooves with a bare hose nozzle until they are dirt-free and spray a powerful jet of water to wash any remaining dirt out. Don’t forget to air-dry completely.
✔ Should you choose to wash your floor mats with a detergent, be to rinse them off completely to avoid slimy and dangerous floor mats.
How you clean the seats will depend on the upholstery - whether it’s leather, vinyl, or cloth. Before you begin using any cleaning product, vacuum your seats completely to get as much of the dirt off as possible.
✔ Spray/apply leather-cleaning product with a towel.
✔ Wipe the seats dry with a microfiber cloth.
✔ After letting the leather dry completely, apply leather conditioner.
✔ Most of the products you have should work with vinyl - but double check the label just to make sure it is compatible with vinyl.
✔ Spray cleaning product onto the seat and wipe dry with a cloth.
✔ Use specialized stain removers for stubborn stains.
✔ Try a household odor eliminator spray to leave your car smelling fresh
✔ Avoid getting the seats too wet - as fabric that soaks up excessive moisture is likely to not dry completely, causing it to smell moldy.
✔ To err on the side of caution, scatter some baking soda and leave it to rest for several hours - and then vacuum it up for a clean, refreshing smell.
While this part of the car makes up a large part of our visual field, it is the most difficult to clean - given all the little parts, knobs, switches, and vents, but it will be much easier with the right tools.
✔ Vacuum thoroughly before applying any cleaning product. Try to reach the furthest corners of the dashboard.
✔ Opt for an interior dressing to keep the dashboard material from fading or cracking due to sunlight exposure.
✔ Cover the tip of a flat-head screwdriver with a cloth and use it to clean the crevices and grooves on your console. The thinner the cloth, the more effective it will be. Alternatively you can wrap a cotton swab around a plastic knife.
✔ While air vent grills are not the most difficult to clean, it is definitely one of the most tedious. Use a soft, long bristle brush to first wipe off as much dust as possible. Then use some strong jets of air from compressed air can for the last finish.
In most cars, door panels consist of materials that match with other parts of the interior. Use that as a primary guide for the selection of cleaning products on the door panels.
Don’t overlook the cup holders and open compartments on the door panels as this could be one of the dirtiest areas in your car. Remove any objects that can be picked up by hand, then vacuum thoroughly before applying any chemical for cleaning.
Lasting odors can be extremely hard to remove. Before you go out and buy something, take a close look to see if you missed the source of that odor.
For a smoker or a regular traveler with pets, keeping your car smelling fresh can be a tougher task. Hang a car deodorizer on your rear view mirror, or hide an old plastic storage container of charcoal under your car seat, with a little vent cut out on its lid. This is a great trick for removing nasty smells.