How to clean your car's interior

Updated: September 18, 2021
Clean interior
A clean car interior not only looks great, it is also better for your health, as a dirty carpet contains allergens.
It takes about an hour and a half to clean the entire interior.

Be careful with water inside the car as it can damage the electrical components. Don't soak the seats too much and don't let water get under the carpet. It could cause corrosion and a damp mouldy smell. Let the inside of your car dry out completely after you are done with cleaning.

Vacuuming

Vacuuming a carpet
Remove the floor mats and vacuum or wash them separately. Vacuum the carpet and fabric seats. Using the proper attachment, reach under the seats, around the pedals and areas between the front seats and the center console.
Vacuuming a dash
Use a soft brush attachment to vacuum the dashboard, center console and the doors. Be careful not to damage knobs, vents and sticking parts.

Cleaning fabric seats and door upholstery

Cleaning fabric seats
The next step is to clean the seats and upholstery. Let's see how we can remove this dirty spot.
Cleaning fabric seats
There are a number of upholstery cleaning agents available. Here we use the Turtle Wax upholstery cleaner, but other products can work as well.
The first step is to spray the cleaner evenly on the dirty spot.
Cleaning fabric seats
Rub well with a cleaning cloth. Once the dirty spot is gone, wipe it with a dry soft cloth.
Cleaning fabric seats
You can clean all the seats and door upholstery the same way, working on one area at a time. If you don't have a special upholstery cleaner, a regular laundry detergent will work as well: Mix a small amount of the detergent with warm water. Dip a clean cloth into it. Squeeze out well - you want a barely-moist cloth. Work harder on dirty areas. When finished, wipe out well with a clean, soft dry cloth.

Cleaning the leather

The leather used in a car is a delicate material and requires gentle care with high-quality products. Some leather care products make the leather more shiny or slippery, while others can make it sticky. Test the product in a small area before using it and see if you like it. Don't use paper towels on leather; they can leave scratches; use a soft clean cotton towel instead.

Cleaning leather-wrapped steering wheel
It might be a good idea not to use any products on the steering wheel, so it won't feel slippery. Instead, clean it with a barely-moist cotton towel.
Cleaning car leather seats
Vacuum leather seat crevices with the soft brush attachment. Be careful, as the vacuum hose can scratch the leather.
Cleaning car leather seats
Spray the leather cleaner on a soft clean cotton towel.
Cleaning car leather seats
Wipe the seat gently, reaching into crevices and around the edges.
Here we used a two-in-one leather cleaner/conditioner. If you use a cleaner only, apply a leather conditioner after to protect the leather.

Cleaning the carpet

Cleaning the carpet
You can clean the carpet the same way you clean the fabric seats and upholstery. The laundry detergent solution will work on the carpet as well.
Cleaning the carpet
Work in one area at a time. Spray the carpet cleaner evenly.
Cleaning the carpet
Rub well. If your cleaner has a brush on it, you can use it on really dirty areas.
Cleaning the carpet
When done, wipe it thoroughly with a dry cloth.
Cleaning the carpet
Don't let water get under the carpet. Dry it out as fast as you can.

How to clean and polish the dashboard and interior plastic

Polishing the dashboard and interior plastic
Clean the dashboard, center console and other plastic parts with a barely moist clean cloth. Use a small amount of laundry detergent to remove the stains. Dry with a clean, soft dry cloth. To make it shiny, use a polish spray for plastic.
Polishing the dashboard and interior plastic
Spray a small amount of polish. Spread it evenly with a soft brush. Don't spray directly on the stereo, infotainment screen or other electronic parts, use a brush instead.
Polishing the dashboard and interior plastic
Buff gently with a clean, soft dry cloth.
Polishing the dashboard and interior plastic
This is how it looked before and after polishing. If you prefer a dashboard and plastics look less shiny and more natural, there are a number of products that can do that. Look for 'natural shine' polish or plastic protectant.
Polishing the dashboard and interior plastic
A good polish not only makes the dashboard look clean and shiny, it protects the plastic. All you need to keep it clean is to periodically wipe it with a soft dust brush.

How to clean the windows

Cleaning car windows
Clean all the windows from the inside and outside. A window-cleaning spray and glass-cleaning towel will do the job. Be careful when cleaning the rear window from the inside - the heating lines of the defogger grid are easy to damage. Use parallel to defogger lines motion. Tinted windows also need a gentle touch. The inside of the windshield needs special attention, as any residue will obstruct your visibility.