Skip to content


Liquid error: Could not find asset snippets/loading-icon.liquid
Clean interior plastic

How To Clean Interior Plastic

Car interiors vary. It all comes down to price or brand or what the vehicle is for. Some commercial vehicles have vinyl seating, for example, for ease of cleaning but, whatever the sector most vehicles will have an assortment of plastics forming part of the dashboard and trim features. It may be a textured surface or piano-black plastic, or a ‘carbon-fibre’ effect: Higher-end models will even have real carbon-fibre; but whatever the plastic type they all still get dirty and need cleaning. This is how to do it:

What to clean car interior plastic with

  • Bucket of clean water
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Detailing brush for those hard-to-reach corners
  • Selection of microfibre cloths
  • Drying towel
  • All-purpose cleaning product
  • Detailing spray for that final touch

How to clean plastic car interior

We are in and out of our cars all the time, creating dust and adding finger marks and stains to the interior surfaces. Cleaning car interiors isn’t hard but it makes all the difference to the enjoyment of car ownership.

To start, vacuum throughout to remove surface dust and loose particles, using the tools to get into the nooks and crannies. Car electronics don’t take kindly to water so steer clear of any area that contains technology but some surfaces, like metal or plastic doors trims can be wiped over with a clean, damp microfibre cloth to remove any surface marks and follow up with a good interior cleaning product, one that is designed for multiple surfaces to remove any stubborn marks and spillage stains, leaving a clean, shiny surface.

If choosing to wash surfaces keep a good automotive drying towel handy to catch any excess and dry the surface before applying a cleaning product.

Top Tip: Rather than spray surface cleaner around randomly, spray it sparingly and directly onto a clean microfibre cloth. Microfibre cloths are great because they really collect dirt within the fibres rather than just spreading it about and, of course, they can be washed and re-used. Change them often when working.

Get the showroom finish

As described above, a good vacuuming followed by an all-purpose cleaner will deal with most interior surfaces but for that extra special touch try using a branded interior detailing spray that is suitable for use on plastic, vinyl and metal surfaces. This type of product leaves a fresh, clean showroom finish, with the added bonus of being anti-static, repelling dust. It’s worth the extra effort.

How to clean black plastic car interior

Some trim, perhaps textured or anonymous grey plastic, doesn’t show up the dust. Black plastic trim however, like the popular, shiny piano-black finish, is the worst culprit for showing up dust and marks and it’s the same with plastic touchscreen surfaces. Clean them as above but gently use an anti-static detailing spray on a cloth for cleaning. It really will help prevent dust build-up. Use it sparingly.

How to clean car interior plastic trim

Cleaning out the junk in door bins and dashboard consoles is a good first step followed by a detailed vacuuming. Cleaning products will work better for it. Using the vacuum tools, especially the brush attachment to avoid scratching plastic surfaces, get into the nooks and crannies. It might help to use a detailing brush around air vents, switchgear and so on. Then proceed to the cleaning step itemised above.

How to clean hard plastic car interior

Hard plastics are prone to scratching so go easy with any tools. A wipe over with a damp microfibre cloth will be a good start, using an all-purpose interior cleaner to remove any stubborn marks. Remember, water and electronics don’t mix so don’t use copious amounts of water and spray liquids directly onto the cloth.

How to clean mud off car interior plastic

Being out and about in winter usually means bringing mud into the car. Boots tend to rub against doors trim, for example. Trying to wipe away wet mud will only result in spreading it out. Far better to leave it to dry and then brush away using a soft bristled brush. Don’t use a hard brush as it could mark the surface. Once that’s done wash it down with a damp cloth and use a dedicated interior cleaner on a soft cloth to remove any residue and stains. An interior detailing spray will return the plastic to an ‘as new’ look.

How to clean textured plastic car interior

Some car interiors feature textured or grooved surfaces. The plastic trim around the door shuts is a case in point. It’s still plastic so clean it in the usual way but also deploy a soft brush to get into grooves or any textured surface which a vacuum tool might miss.

Good car maintenance and cleaning, inside and out, is very satisfying. Step back and admire your handiwork. A fresh clean interior makes motoring a pleasant experience. A car that is well maintained will hold its value better too.

Previous article How To Get Stains Out Of Car Seats
Next article How To Clean Rubber Car Mats