How to Clean Your Car’s Interior

Keeping the interior clean and undamaged is important because when you sell the car, dealers are far less tolerant of expensive and difficult repairs to interior trim than they are to cosmetic damage outside.


  • Start by removing all your junk from the boot, floor and cubbies so you don’t have to move it as you clean. This also gives you the chance to throw away the real rubbish.

  • If you are cleaning the windows with a chalky cleaner, do that first, so you can vacuum up the fallout. Try not to get the cleaner on the trim because it makes more work.
  • Go over large areas of plastic with the vacuum’s duster brush. You are unlikely to be able to get this into smaller places so swap to the thin nozzle designed for getting between cushions. No matter how powerful your cleaner, this won’t suck up dust held in place by static, so use a dry paintbrush to sweep dust out of crannies into the nozzle. Again, work from the top down.
  • Use the vacuum’s upholstery attachment to do the seats, reverting to the thin nozzle to get between the cushions and into the recesses in the cushions. The thin nozzle also concentrates the suction to get hairs out of fabrics.
  • Do the boot and floor carpets last. Use the upholstery attachment first then use the thin nozzle for concentrated suction on stubborn areas. Though sandy deposits in the carpet may not look too bad, they abrade the fibres so it is worth the effort to remove them.
  • A good interior cleaner is worth using because it lifts dirt off the plastics and out of the fabrics and carpets, while most also de-odorise. Test it on hidden areas first, use it according to the instructions and always clean a whole seat or carpet otherwise you’ll get patches.

Interior tips

  • Never over-wet car seats or carpets, partly because they take a long time to dry out but also because they may shrink and the water might get into the electrics (many cars’ engine management computers are under the front seats).

  • Let carpets dry before you put mats back on them.
  • Do not use interior cleaners on leather because they may dry it out. Use plain water, something formulated for leather or a cleaner recommended by the car manufacturer.
  • Seatbelts should also only be cleaned with water because of the risk of chemicals weakening the fabric.
  • The best thing to clean the instrument ‘glass’ and metallic interior trim with is a household multi-surface spray cleaner like Mr Sheen, but spray it onto a cloth so it won’t go where it’s not wanted.

Related posts:

  1. How to Clean a Car’s Interior Guide
  2. Tips to Clean a Car’s Interior
  3. When Water Damage Car’s Interior
  4. How to Clean a Really Dirty Windshield Guide
  5. Basic Car Detailing Equipment and Tips

Filed Under: Guides / DIY


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