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How to Clean Your Car’s Interior

Published Fri September 8, 2017

How to Clean Your Car's Interior


Whether it’s smashed french fries under the baby’s car seat or soda stains from that last-minute spring semester road trip, the inside of your vehicle can begin to look rough after continuous daily use. Cleaning your car interior on a regular basis not only makes driving a more pleasant experience, but it can also help protect cloth or leather seats and other areas from long-term damage such as stains and cracking. Follow this six-step process on how to clean the inside of your car for the best results.


How to Clean the Inside of Your Car


Gather Items Necessary to Cleaning a Car Interior


To clean the inside of your car, you’ll need:


  • Clean cloths or shop towels

  • Window cleaner

  • Automotive dash, vinyl or leather cleaner

  • A small vacuum or quarters for a commercial vacuum

  • Carpet or upholstery shampoo

  • Leather or vinyl protectant

Clean Loose Debris and Dirt


Begin by removing any items in your car that will impede cleaning. Use a crate or box to temporarily store toys, CD cases, umbrellas, ice scrapers, extra jackets and any other items. Remove car seats, seat covers, and accessories. Pick up large pieces of debris, such as rocks and leaves, by hand. Use a portable vacuum to remove loose dirt from seats, flooring and floor mats. You can also use a regular home vacuum with hose attachments or the paid vacuum at local gas stations or car washes. Depending on how much time you get for each quarter and how much you need to vacuum, you can expect to pay $1 to $6.


How to Clean Car Leather


Wipe Down Vinyl and Leather


Clean any vinyl or leather surfaces by wiping them down with a damp cloth; you can also purchase specialized wipes to clean either leather or vinyl in a car. The benefit of such wipes is that they often come with a scented formula that is appropriate for use on car interiors. Make sure to follow any instructions on how to clean your car interior provided on such products. Avoid using a very wet cloth or soap that can dry out your leather and cause cracking.


Shampoo Cloth as Necessary


Shampoo cloth seats as necessary to remove stains or stubborn dirt. You can use carpet shampoo or purchase shampoo specific for car interiors in the auto department of a local department store. An important tip about how to clean the interior of a car is to test any new product on an area that is mostly out of sight to ensure that it won’t cause discoloration when used in more visible areas.


Clean Interior Windows


Each time you clean the inside of your car, wipe down the inside of the windows. You can use basic home glass cleaner and a paper towel, but these might attract more dust soon after you clean. For better results, use high-quality industrial or auto glass cleaner, but don’t use cleaner with ammonia if you have window tint. You can also wipe windows with balled-up newspaper for streak-free cleaning.


Treat Vinyl and Leather with Appropriate Products


After the interior is clean, treat vinyl or leather on the dashboard and seats with appropriate products to condition and protect. These products help keep the area dirt-free between cleanings, protect materials from sun damage and reduce surface cracking.


Now that you know how to clean a car interior, you can keep your car looking and smelling great.