We’ve all been there. You just got back from a long road trip, or maybe it was a day at the beach or a soccer tournament. You’re exhausted and life has clearly taken its toll on your once nice leather interior. Maybe it’s even got to the point where you’ve given up completely on ever bringing the inside of your car back to life. Well the fortunate reality is that your interior is remarkably easier to revive than you may think. With a few quick tips and tricks you can say goodbye to clutter, stains and even those embarrassing odors. When assessing your car’s detailing needs, before you dive into cleaning out your car’s interior, you might want to also check out our other articles on cleaning out underneath your hood and the top 10 most common car detailing mistakes.
Things you will need:
- microfiber towel(s)
- plastic scrubber (optional)
- car glass cleaner spray
- protectant spray
- protectant wipes
- air freshener(s)
- leather cleaner (or multipurpose upholstery/fabric cleaner)
Without a doubt the first thing you’re going to want to do is to pick up any clutter and trash that’s been scattered about your car. An empty car is much more easier to clean, way less stressful, and will make things go a lot faster. So unfortunately those old gym socks and that pile of chipotle receipts piling up in your cupholders are gonna have to go. Even if it’s not necessarily trash it still makes things easier to move everything out of your car temporarily.
Now that your car is nice and empty, the next step is to go over everything with a vacuum. You don’t need a super fancy vacuum to get the job done but it does help to have a shop vac with a hose or some sort of smaller, portable vacuum that can reach those tight corners and hard to reach areas. Also make sure to move your seats around accordingly so that you can reach every little nook and cranny. Keep your eyes peeled you might even score a bunch of loose change in the process.
One of the major setbacks of a car’s interior can be the dashboard. Often times people don’t pay much attention to it, but with constant exposure to the sun and dust, it doesn’t take long at all for it to get damaged. That’s where protectant comes in. Do your best to wipe off any crumbs or dirt and then use a protectant spray and the microfiber towel to gently go over the dashboard. Make sure to be relatively gentle and use a circular motion. It also helps to spray the protectant directly into the towel to prevent it from getting on your windows.
A crucial part of any car is it’s windows. Cleaning your windows doesn’t just look nice but it also increases your visibility. To clean the windows be sure to use an automotive specific cleaner for best results. Spray it right on the towel and use gentle, rhythmic motions. You can also buff out any streaks you make with a towel.
Seats and Upholstery
Depending on if you have fabric or leather seats you’ll want to use the corresponding cleaner. For leather you can use a two-step cleaner and conditioner. The cleaner will remove any excess dirt while the conditioner will help keep the leather soft and replenish the natural oils. For fabric you’ll want to spray the upholstery/fabric cleaner across the seat and scrub it in thoroughly. Afterwards you can gently dab up any excess with a towel or rag.
Steering Wheel & Gear Shifter
Two things that people often forget are the steering wheel and the gear shifter. They may seem minor but they are the two key parts of your car that you touch the most. Grease and oils can build up very easily so it’s important to clean your steering wheel and gear shifter relatively often. It takes less than 30 seconds and all you have to do most of the time and just give it a quick run down with a protectant wipe to get rid of any excess germs and bacteria.
The last and often dirtiest part of cleaning any car is to address those nasty floor mats. Since you vacuumed already, most of the really lose dirt and crumbs should be cleaned up already but the job is only halfway done. Over time mud and dirt from your shoes get compacted down and can really make cleaning your floor mats a painstaking process. The first step is to take them out of your car just to make sure as you clean them you aren’t getting anything else dirty in the process. Be sure to pat them down really well and you can even give them a few smacks on the ground if necessary to shake off all that excess dirt and grime. Then all you have to do is give them a good hose down (a power washer works best) and scrub them really well with some cleaner. For an added bonus you can also use the laundry detergent method as you clean them. Then all that’s left to do is let them air dry out in the sun before putting them back into your now clean vehicle.
Throw in some nice air fresheners if you want to, and you’re officially ready to hit the road again. And trust me when I say your car will thank you. It’s also a good idea to clean and touch up your exterior as well and you can find our article on that right here. Remember these quick tips and tricks and you’ll never find yourself stressing about the state of your car’s interior ever again.