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Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning Your Car’s Interior

Does the inside of your car need a little love? It’s easy to let crumbs, dirt, pet hair, and other debris build up in our vehicles when life gets busy. But you can get rid of the grime and drive an amazingly clean, fresh-smelling car again.

You should clean your car’s interior twice a year — and even more often when windows get dirty and hard to see out of, or when loose objects start to crowd around the gear shift. Basically, you’ll want to tidy up your vehicle as often as necessary to keep it (and you) clean, healthy, and safe.

Not sure how to start tidying up and disinfecting your vehicle? Our step-by-step guide to cleaning your car’s interior can help. We’ll walk you through the tools and materials you need, what to remove before deep-cleaning the interior, and all of the areas in your vehicle you’ll want to tackle. You’ll be amazed by how beautiful your car looks once you’re finished!

Tools & Materials You’ll Need

Here’s everything you should gather before cleaning your car’s interior (you likely have some of these items at home already):

  • Lint roller (if you have pets)
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Ammonia-free window cleaner
  • Bucket
  • Garden hose (or tap water)
  • Dish soap
  • Vacuum
  • Cotton swabs or an old toothbrush
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Leather cleaner 
  • Carpet or upholstery cleaner
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Old rags
  • Tarp or chair
  • Baking soda
  • Sealed container (optional)

Cleaning Your Car’s Interior

Before you start deep-cleaning your vehicle, throw away trash and remove loose objects. Then, you’ll tackle an area or two of your car at a time until the whole interior sparkles. Finally, you’ll address any lingering odors for a fresh-smelling vehicle.

Items & Debris to Remove
  • Throw away all trash; recycle whatever you can.
  • Remove car seats, toys, floor mats, and other loose items from your vehicle.
  • Take a lint roller to any pet hair that’s on the seats, carpet, or pet covers.
Windows & Mirrors
  • Wipe down your windows with a microfiber cloth and an ammonia-free window cleaner.
  • Lower the windows a bit and start at the top, working your way down to catch any dripping cleaner.
  • Double-check the cleaning product’s instructions if you have tinted windows, just to make sure the product is safe.
Console, Dashboard, & Wheel
  • If you can remove your cup holders, soak them in warm water and dish soap. Wipe clean and let dry before putting them back into your console. If they aren’t removable, you can just vacuum them with an attachment.
  • Use an old toothbrush or damp cotton swabs to clean tight spaces in the vents and around the gear shift.
  • Use a slightly damp microfiber cloth to get the dust and grime off the dashboard’s surface, vents, and knobs.
  • Clean your steering wheel and gear shift with disinfecting wipes; dry with a cloth.
Seats & Seat Belts
  • Vacuum the seats with an attachment. 
  • For leather seats, wipe down with a leather cleaner and microfiber cloth.
  • For cloth seats, treat with an upholstery cleaner and follow its guidelines for any stains. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the cleaner into the fabric, then wipe away excess cleaner and grime with a microfiber cloth.
  • You can also use upholstery cleaner to wipe down your seat belt straps. Clean the metal fasteners and molded clamps with a damp cloth.
Door Panels, Handles, & Carpet
  • Vacuum the door panels, door handles, and the entire carpet (under seats, around pedals, and in all the crevices you can reach). Follow these steps for your vehicle’s cab and trunk or hatchback (if applicable).
  • Wipe down door panels and handles with a microfiber cloth.
  • Dab carpet stains with soapy water, using an old rag to loosen dirt. 
  • For stubborn stains, apply carpet cleaner and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then, brush the stain in a circular motion to loosen the fibers.
  • Rinse (don’t soak!) your carpet with a damp rag, pulling up as much soap as you can.
  • Let your car sit in the sun with all the doors open for at least two hours. To prevent mildew, make sure your carpets are completely dry before using your car again.
Floor Mats
  • While your carpet is drying, shake and vacuum the mats to remove dirt.
  • Using a rag (or soft-bristled brush) and a bucket of soapy water, scrub the undersides of the mats and rinse with a hose.
  • Use an upholstery cleaner for carpeted mats; mix warm water and dish soap for rubber, vinyl, or silicone mats. Rinse off with a damp cloth.
  • With a dry rag, press on the mats to lift as much excess water as possible.
  • Let the mats air dry over a tarp or chair before putting them back in your car (once the carpet is fully dry, of course).
Tough Odors to Tackle
  • Still dealing with stubborn smells, even after all that cleaning? Sprinkle the carpet and seats with baking soda.
  • Let the baking soda sit overnight, then vacuum it up.
  • Or, you can put baking soda into a sealed container with holes or slits in the top, then stick the container under a car seat.

With how busy life keeps us, dirt, stray crumbs, stains, and odors in our cars can quickly get out of hand. And while you can definitely clean your own vehicle at home, it takes a few tools (and a few hours) to get the job done right.

If cleaning your car’s interior is on your to-do list, but you don’t have time for the DIY route, you can always bring it to a professional for an interior detail. Then, you can sit back, relax, and look forward to getting into an amazingly clean, fresh-smelling car!

Premier’s mission is to create happiness through professional detailing, and our purpose is to exhibit a philosophy of servanthood! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or visit our website. Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well!

Read more from our blog.

That's why, at Premier, you’ll get more than just exceptional service for your car.

You’ll drive away happy knowing you’re also valued and a huge part of supporting and celebrating others.

If you’re ready to restore, protect, or style your car—book an auto detailing service in Lafayette, Indiana or Kokomo, Indiana. Our professionally trained staff (and satisfaction guarantee) promise that you’ll be impressed with our attention to detail and blown away with the final results.

* There will be an additional charge of $50 for Iron Decontamination. If your vehicle has tar, overspray, or road paint on it, we will provide a custom quote for removal.

* Removing stains is an intricate service, and while we always try to do everything possible to remove stains, we cannot guarantee full stain removal. In the event a stain cannot be fully removed, we will try to attenuate it as much as possible.

* Headliners are extremely delicate. Excessive cleaning and wetting of the headliner can cause it to fail, so excessive soiling may not be able to be removed.


Ceramic Wash, Clay, and Seal

* These prices are based on a vehicle in average condition. For a more accurate quote, pictures or a detailer’s estimate may be needed to see if your vehicle qualifies for this price.


Full Detail

* These prices are based on a vehicle in average condition. For a more accurate quote, pictures or a detailer’s estimate may be needed to see if your vehicle qualifies for this price.


Interior Detail

* These prices are based on a vehicle in average condition. For a more accurate quote, pictures or a detailer’s estimate may be needed to see if your vehicle qualifies for this price.

*The paint polish is not intended to remove any deep paint defects. It is only intended to enhance gloss and deep clean the paint in preparation for the coating application. Additional paint correction services can be quoted at an additional charge.

Because we value you and your vehicle as much as you do, we recommend following a maintenance protocol after the initial curing time of your ceramic coatings application.

This maintenance plan will keep your warranty intact and allow you to enjoy a smooth, glass-like finish for years to come.

A professional hand wash—with a specialized ceramic coatings approved cleaning agent—is recommended every week to every other week. As a ceramic coatings VIP, you'll receive a $20 discount on all hand washes.

Pricing: Call for Details

Why is ceramic coating the most elite paint protection product on the market?

Premier ceramic coating offers nano-ceramic compounds that provide the maximum level of slickness, protection, and durability.

A normal clear coat has hardness between 2H and 4H. However, ceramic coatings have a hardness above 9H. This shield is the hardest paint coating on the market today and prevents minor scratches to your clearcoat and acts as a sacrificial layer.

Think of ceramic coatings as an additional clear coat layer, only a lot harder. All of this allows for more peace of mind and a fuller enjoyment of your vehicle, even in harsh environments.

Surface Scratches

UV Protection


No-Bond Surface


Permanent Protection

* We protect all plastics, vinyl, leather, Alcantara, carpet, and upholstery to help repel dirt, dust, and stains. We do not coat interior glass as it will cause fogging issues.

* A new tint can be applied to driver and passenger windows to match other factory-tinted windows on SUVs and trucks.