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How to super clean your car's interior

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Updated 10 Oct 2019

Joel Ilton

The interior of your car is susceptible to all sorts of dirt and grime, from greasy hands on the steering wheel and gear shifter to sand in your shoes to plastic off-gassing (a process in which particulates and chemicals become airborne) onto the windscreen.

All this can build up over time and if you don’t keep on top of it, your interior may become an unpleasant place to be.

Fortunately, your friends here at AutoGuru have put a ‘How-To’ guide and video together to show you how to super clean your interior.

Step One

Before you get stuck in to cleaning the interior, you want to make sure you have all the tools and products you need to get the job done.

Some of these items may not be required, so a quick inspection of the plastics, carpets and other areas will help you decide exactly what you need.

The main products used in interior cleaning are:

  • Microfibre cloths
  • Interior cleaner (usually in a spray form, available from most automotive stores)
  • Carpet and upholstery cleaner (optional, available from most automotive stores)
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • Assorted brushes (optional)
  • A protective product for interior plastics
  • Leather cleaner and conditioner (if seats, steering wheel etc are leather)
  • An odour neutraliser (optional)
  • Glass cleaner and glass cleaning towels

Step Two

Once you have gathered all the products you need, it's time to tackle the interior.

Firstly, open all the doors and the boot, and remove any loose items from the interior. This includes old food wrappers, empty water bottles and other clutter.

Separate the items into two piles, one for the rubbish and one for items that need to go back into the car.

Once this is done, remove the floor mats (if fitted), taking care not to spill any dirt from the mats onto the carpet of the car.

Place these to one side, shaking them out thoroughly to remove any loose dirt and debris.

Then, using the vacuum, clean the floor mats and interior carpet well, using a brush to agitate dirt to the surface if needed.

Don't forget to get down the sides of the seats with a crevice tool, as this area tends to build up with dust and debris.

Carpet and upholstery cleaner can also be applied to remove any stains.

Step Three

Now that the carpet and mats are clean, it's time to move onto the seats.

First, lie the front seats flat so you can get into the parts of the seat that are usually obscured.

Then, using the vacuum and a brush, focus on the base of the seats using the brush to get into the crevices to lift dirt out to be collected by the vacuum.

Once the base is clean, move to the backrest of the seat.

If your seats are leather, take care not to damage the surface by scrubbing too hard.

Use this procedure to complete the rest of the seats, and give the door panels a wipe down with the microfibre towel and interior cleaner, making sure to focus on the high traffic areas of the armrest and door handles.

Step Four

It's time to move onto the centre console, gear selector and handbrake lever (if fitted).

Using the vacuum, give the centre console a quick going over to remove all the loose dust and dirt, and then follow up with the interior cleaner and a microfibre towel, focussing on the gear selector and handbrake lever as these areas see the most wear and tear.

Then give the cupholders a quick clean with the towel and interior cleaner. If your vehicle has a screen on the radio, use the glass cleaner and towel to remove any fingerprints and dust.

Make sure to spray the glass cleaner onto the towel only, as spraying it directly onto the screen can cause damage to the sensitive display.

Continue up to the top of the dashboard, using the towel and some interior cleaner to remove the dust and any stubborn marks.

Step Five

The steering wheel is the next component to receive a thorough cleaning.

As before, use the microfibre towel and cleaner to work your way around the steering wheel, taking care around any steering wheel controls or sensitive areas such as the airbag.

Then, using the glass cleaner and towel, give the instruments a gentle wipe down as you did with the radio screen, taking care not to spray cleaner directly onto the instruments as it may work it’s way behind the plastic, making it impossible to clean off.

Step Six

It’s time to add some protection to your now clean interior and finish off by making the glass crystal clear.

Grabbing your interior protective product and a fresh microfibre towel, apply the protectant to all the plastic components on the dash, centre console and door cards, making sure to buff off any leftover residue.

The last step is to clean the glass.

The reason we leave this till last is accidental contact with the windscreen or door windows would mean retracing your steps and cleaning the glass multiple times during the interior clean.

Spray the product into the towel and clean one side of the windscreen at a time. Follow up with a dry microfibre towel to remove any streaks and repeat on the other glass and rear vision mirror.

Once you’re happy with the glass, take a quick walk around the vehicle to make sure no spots have been missed, and then relax - you’ve super cleaned your interior and returned it to an as-new state!

Carrying out a quick clean every couple of weeks will keep your car in great condition, and show others just how much you look after your pride and joy. 

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Written By

Joel Ilton

Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.

After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.