How To Clean A Car Interior
Modern car interiors are bristling with technology and an assortment of materials. Depending upon the motor, there will be metal, plastic, leather and suede, assorted fabrics and faux-leather, even wood. Just how many different old-school methods or modern equivalents does the enthusiastic car detailer need to do the job? It might be easier than may perhaps be thought:
What Cleans Car Interior Plastic?
You will need:
- A vacuum cleaner, portable or otherwise, with attachments.
- Microfibre cloths
- A bucket of clean water for rinsing cloths.
- A spray bottle. Useful for moistening surfaces if required.
- Suitable cleaning products.
Top Tip: Save time and aggravation by making sure that every item needed is ready and to hand.
The first thing to remember is that the car dashboard houses a multitude of electrical components. It may sound obvious but don’t even think about splashing water about. There are better ways:
A light dusting
This is a job to be done routinely. Dust gets everywhere and a quick weekly wipe over will help to retain that sparkle.
Use a vacuum
A good vacuuming of all the cracks and crevices, the nooks and crannies, will get rid of most loose particles.
Use an all-purpose car interior spray cleaner on plastics, metal and wood laminate. Spray on a little at a time and wipe over. Job done.
How To Clean Mould Off A Car Interior
Mould, otherwise known as mildew, is a fungal growth that grows on anything in damp conditions, especially fabrics like car seat material and carpets. With car interiors it will most likely be caused by condensation or damp, through unwanted water ingress. Condensation can largely be dealt with by running the vehicle’s (properly serviced) air-conditioning all year round. The cause of damp on the other hand is often hard to identify and is the subject of another article.
Mould, if left, will grow and grow. It is unsightly and more to the point, unhealthy for humans. Get it sorted out fast. Here’s what is needed:
- Face mask
- Suitable upholstery or interior cleaner
- Soft brush.
As with all interior cleaning the job starts with a good vacuum, especially around the infected area. Wash the fabric, using the brush to work the fabric cleaner into the soiled material. Wipe away with a clean microfibre cloth and allow to dry.
It is probably a good idea, rather than concentrate on one area, to clean interior fabrics and car seats throughout for a thorough job. Search our blog for detailed information on cleaning car seat fabric.
How To Clean A Car Interior Roof
The interior roof headliner is there because bare metal looks unattractive. Usually it is made of a thin layer of soft foam-like material finished with vinyl, leather, or other fabric. It isn’t something that is looked at much but it can become soiled or stained from everyday use, especially if anyone smokes in the vehicle. Here’s how a dedicated car detailer will deal with it:
You will need:
- The inevitable vacuum cleaner
- A good quality interior fabric spray cleaner
- A soft brush
- Clean microfibre or waffle cloths.
Beware of washing the headliner and making it too wet. It will take an age to dry out and may well encourage mildew (see above). Having had a good vacuum using the nozzle in the corners, spray the cleaning product on sparingly, working it in with a brush on soiled sections. Do a small area at a time so that the spray does not dry. Wipe away with a damp, not wet, microfibre cloth and allow the interior to thoroughly air.
How To Clean A Car Windshield Interior
A clean and clear view out of the front of a car is obviously essential. So, as a matter of course when we wash the car, we clean the windshield to remove road dirt and insect strikes. That’s usual.
We forget however that the inside of the windscreen also gets soiled by human breath, condensation, food and especially cigarette smoke, The screen ends up with a smeary haze, made worse by wiping a hand across it. Cleaning is a simple job and is worth doing frequently.
Here’s all you will need:
- Glass cleaner
- Microfibre cloths
Top Tip: It’s easier to clean the windscreen from the passenger seat. No steering wheel to impede the work.
Some glass cleaners can smear, like a famous brand for household cleaning. Better to use a purpose-made automotive glass spray cleaner, designed for the job.
As ever, use sparingly and spray directly onto the glass and spread the product, remembering to go edge to edge for full coverage, using a clean microfibre, lint-free cloth. Taking a fresh cloth buff up to a clear, smear-free finish. Don’t neglect the other windows either: A clear view all around is essential for safer motoring on our busy roads.
How To Clean A Leather Car Interior
Leather is a popular choice for a car’s interior trim; notably on the seats. It can be either normal hide or a suede variant. Some car makers include it on door trims and the like but the process is the same. New leather gives off a prestige smell and it is worth giving it a full cleaning periodically to keep it clean, soft and supple.
You will need:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Soft suede brush
- Microfibre cloths
- Leather cleaner. One that contains essential oils to keep the leather supple
Top Tip: Try to mop up any family spillages immediately. Leave it to dry out and the resultant stain will be much harder to remove.
As elsewhere, deploy the vacuum cleaner first, perhaps wiping over the surface with a damp microfibre cloth, Allow to dry and use a good leather spray cleaner, spraying small areas at a time. Wipe away with a clean cloth. If stubborn marks or stains persist then apply a little pressure with the soft brush, working the cleaner into the material. Again, wipe away when done. See our detailed blog on this subject.
Suede trim is a little more tricky, even though today most manufacturers use an artificial suede; Alcantara is an example. You can’t wash it in the normal way so the best cleaning device is a simple soft brush. Brush the suede from top to bottom, left to right, bottom to top, and right to left to remove embedded dirt. Vacuum away. Subsequently, continue to brush the seat in a circular motion. This will raise the nap of the material.
Top Tip: Wipe away spillages immediately. If marks or stains persist, source a suede eraser and lift stains with rubbing. Brush again.
How To Clean A Black Vinyl Interior
Vinyl is a tough, hard-wearing material. Although car makers have moved on these days it’s a fabric that can still feature in some sectors, notably working vehicles.
The good news is that it is washable. Don’t soak though, a wet cloth will usually do the trick. Better still use an automotive car interior cleaner, degreaser or detailing spray to and wipe away the dirt with a cloth
If stubborn marks persist use a magic eraser, available everywhere, to get the stain out without damaging the surface of the material. Do not use an abrasive pad; it will scratch the surface.
The general rule then for all car interiors is to use an all-purpose cleaner for most jobs and for fabrics and leather, a product that is more specific to the job. Using the right product will make life easier but remember, use sparingly.
For that factory-professional look, finish off with a car interior detailing spray, one that is suitable for use on all plastic, vinyl and metal surfaces. A good product will have anti-static properties to prevent dust accumulation and a pleasant aroma. Instead of doing jobs piecemeal, why not make it easier by doing a full detail of the car interior?