How to clean the interior of your car: fabric or leather seats, carpet, plastic panels

Updated: December 15, 2019
Clean interior

A clean car interior not only looks great, it is also better for your health, as a dirty carpet contains dust mites, bacteria and other allergens.
It takes about an hour and a half to clean the entire interior. Be careful with water inside the car; if water gets into electrical components, it may cause problems. Don't soak the seats too much and don't let water get under the carpet. It could cause corrosion and 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. 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. Vacuum floor mats separately.

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.

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Cleaning fabric seats and door upholstery

Cleaning fabric seats

The next step is cleaning of the seats. Let's see how we can clean this dirty spot.

Cleaning fabric seats

There are a number of upholstery cleaning agents available. Here we used the Turtle Wax upholstery cleaner, but other products can work as well.
The first step, 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 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 to 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

Be careful with the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob as some of the leather care products can make them slippery or sticky. It might be a good idea not to use any products on the steering wheel. Instead, clean it with a barely-moist cotton towel. If you use any leather care products on your steering wheel, make sure it is not slippery before you drive.

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. It will 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 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, or other electrical 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 the dashboard and the plastic looking 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 shields and protects the plastic. All you need to do after, just use a soft duster periodically and your dashboard will look new for a long time.

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 a special attention, as any residue will obstruct your visibility.




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