How to Clean Your Car's Interior

How to Clean Your Car's Interior

Your car has probably been sitting unused more than usual over the past several months, but that hasn’t stopped dust and dirt from accumulating inside. Even if your car wash stayed open during the pandemic, you may not have wanted someone to detail, or deep clean, the interior of your vehicle. Plus, the job can cost $100 or more, require you to drop off and pick up your car, and can easily be done on your own.

Cleaning Materials and Tools

If you have a decent vacuum cleaner and an assortment of cleaning products, you already have most of the needed items. Throw in a variety of towels, brushes, rags, and sponges, and you’re ready to proceed.

Vacuum Cleaner. A vacuum cleaner with an extension hose and hand-held attachments is ideal – you’ll need attachments to clean carpets and tight, hard-to-reach nooks. A steam cleaning machine can be helpful too.

Chemical Cleaning Products. It is likely that you already have the necessary products on hand to clean surfaces including vinyl, plastic, upholstery, and carpeting. Take a quick inventory your car’s surfaces and assemble a basket of your favorite cleaning products.

Wiping and Polishing Materials. For serious detailing work, you need a wide assortment of towels and rags – everything from terry cloth towels for scrubbing to lint-free, fine cloth rags for cleaning and polishing. For a beautiful shine on surfaces without the worry of scratches, you can’t beat a microfiber cloth. Before you start, make sure the cloths are free of any residual chemicals.

Brushes and Applicators. Different-sized brushes are a must for cleaning dust from air vents and other hard-to-reach places. Depending on the cleaner, you may need a stiff-bristled brush, sponge, or rag. See instructions on the label and be sure to use the proper applicator – it can make all the difference.

Carpets and Floor Mats

This is a good place to start given carpets and floor mats tend to be the dirtiest. However, depending on how dirty the rest of the interior is, you may want to clean the carpet last – if the cleanup of the seats and dash creates a mess, you will not have to redo the carpet.

Before you begin, remove all coins, papers, junk food wrappers, and other objects that have accumulated. Slide seats forward and backward to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Floor Mats

Remove the floor mats and vigorously shake the dirt loose. Some mats have deep indentations to trap water and melting snow from your winter boots, and dirt can become caked between the grooves.

If a good shake is not enough, try loosening grime with a stiff brush. Clean between the grooves with your vacuum cleaner’s bare hose nozzle. Once all the mats are dirt-free, wash them out with a strong jet of water from your garden hose. Allow them to air-dry completely. If you wash mats with a detergent, make sure the cleaning product will not leave mats slippery and unsafe while driving.

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