Spring Cleaning: Detailing your Car Interior

Spring Cleaning: Detailing your Car Interior

There are two types of people in the world, those who love detailing a car, and those who prefer to take their ride to a car detailer. Most people spend lots of time in their car commuting to work, grabbing groceries, or even going on vacation. With all that time in your vehicle, there are plenty of chances to spill coffee, let your pet shed, leave fast food in the seat, or watch your kids wipe a PB&J across the back of your headrest. Even if you do not eat or drink in your car, have pets or children, pollen still gets in and turns everything dusty green. So let us take a moment to see what a good interior car cleaning requires.

The Essentials

Car detailing means getting into all the cracks and crevices, paying close attention to every “detail.” To do this, you need a few supplies:

  • Auto Detailing rags – Lint free towels or rags
  • Trash Bags – The less often you clean, the more you’ll need
  • Vacuum Cleaner – Canister-type vacuum cleaners with hose and attachments for getting into all the corners, and brush attachments to bring up the dirt
  • Car Upholstery Shampoo – Just like rug shampoo for your house, but used in your car
  • Glass Cleaner – Be sure to use ammonia free glass cleaner, especially for tinted windows
  • Vinyl Cleaner & Conditioner – Household soaps and sun damage can dry and crack your vinyl
  • Leather Cleaner/Saddle Soap – If you have a leather interior
  • All-purpose Cleaner/Degreaser – Can be used for cleaning most hard surfaces

The Regular Cleaning List

  • Remove Bulk Trash – Fast food bags, drinks, etc…
  • Clean Floor Mats – Remove and wash with a hose and general purpose cleaner
  • Vacuum Carpet & Upholstery
  • Scrub Clean Hard Surfaces – Using general purpose cleaner/degreaser
  • Wash Glass and Windows

The “Detailing” List

detailing-car-interiorDetailing is more than just cleaning. Detailing is defined as the process of thoroughly cleaning the interior and exterior of a vehicle and doing minor repairs to improve its appearance. Detailing the interior of your car goes to the next level of cleaning, getting all those little spots of dirt, and returning the car to the closest you can to factory showroom (or better) clean.

  • Use upholstery cleaner to remove spots from carpet and fabrics
    • Baking soda has been known to help remove stains that have set for years
  • Use detailing tools to remove dirt from crevices, to include air vents
    • One trick for cleaning in tight areas is to use a bamboo skewer like the ones used for shish kabobs. They are readily available and inexpensive at your local grocery store.
    • Old toothbrushes are perfect for cleaning in tight spaces
  • Polish vinyl – Use vinyl cleaner and protectant and buff with a detailing cloth to a deep shine.
    • Often vinyl polishes contain petroleum and silicone that give a shiny look and slick feel. While these do a fantastic job of protecting your dash and doors, it is not a good choice for seats and steering wheels
  • Leather sash – Break out the saddle soap to clean and soften the leather accoutrements
  • Odor removal – While you have likely removed the sources of most odors, some smells such as smoke and grease are persistent. Removal and replacement of the cabin air filter and the use of ozone air cleaners may help

Detailing your interior is not something that needs to be done every car wash. You can incorporate parts of the full detailing process into every wash, or you can spend a relaxing Saturday making your car look its best. Maintaining your car’s interior will make those hours in traffic more pleasant, and as a bonus, a well-maintained interior will help improve your car’s resale value.