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
- Garden hose (or tap water)
- Dish soap
- 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.
- 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!