There is a saying ‘a clean car is a happy car’ and it is true. You really do not want to start your day amidst the kind of clutter that can quickly develop inside the car, along with associated odours and grungy, sticky patches on the seats.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 35 seconds.
Thankfully, you do not need special skills to clean your car’s interior. All it takes is time, patience, and some common cleaning products that can be found almost anywhere. It is worth going to your local major spares chain or department store where several varieties of car care packs are available at reasonable prices.
Buying care products from known brands is advisable as some household products are not suitable for the interior of your car. Even so, safety should remain a priority and it is worth your while to wear gloves and eye protection while working with chemicals such as upholstery conditioners, glass cleaners, and cleaning wipes.
Before you start, move the car to a flat surface, preferably in the shade but still well lit, and ensure there is enough room on either side to fully open the doors.
To do a comprehensive job, you will need:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Towels, both cloth and paper
- Microfibre cloth
- Car-specific window cleaner
- Vinyl and/or leather cleaner and conditioner
- Carpet cleaner
- Trash bags
- Extension cord (if needed)
- Gloves (if needed)
- Eye protection (if needed)
- Grab your trash bags and a pair of gloves.
- Start by grabbing all of the visible and easily collectable papers, packets, fast food boxes and the like. Be sure to pay attention to the boot as well. Check under seats and in the cracks between seats. Be cautious when checking under the seats as there are sometimes sharp edges that can induce nasty cuts.
- Take out anything that isn’t vital to operating the vehicle that you have been carrying around.
- Fire up the vacuum cleaner and, starting with the higher surfaces, work your way down, NB: Do not use a vacuum cleaner on the dashboard and plastics as it can scratch these parts. Remove the mats and carpets where feasible and vacuum those separately. Be sure to try and get into the gaps between the seats, move the seats back and forth when necessary.
- Starting with the dash, wipe away dust and dirt using a microfibre dust cloth, and then go back with an appropriate cleaning spray designed to remove dirt from automotive surfaces and cloth to avoid scratches.
- Wipe around the steering wheel, gauge cluster, gear shift, and other tight spaces. Hair, dust, and other dirt tend to congregate in these places, so you might want to keep detailing brushes which are effective or some cotton buds which are also handy to get into the small spaces on the instrument cluster and around all the switches.
- Use glass cleaner spray and microfibre towels to clean the glass on the inside of your vehicle. Use a brand specifically for cars as ammonia-based products can damage plastics inside the car (and they smell). Also, for tinted windows, read up on any warnings before you destroy the tint.
Tips and Tricks
- While you’re cleaning the inside of your boot, be sure to check underneath the shelf where the spare tyre might live. Clean any leaves or dirt, inspect for any possible water damage and check the air in the spare tyre to make sure it’s properly inflated.
- While cleaning your car’s interior, it’s also a good time to sort through your glove box.
- Suede and Alcantara (suede-like material) can be cleaned but will need to be treated differently than standard leather or cloth. You will need to find a suede cleaner that will break down dirt and stains without damaging the material underneath. A detailing brush and microfibre towels will help you work the cleaner into the suede and dry it properly afterwards. It is important to remember suede and Alcantara both need time to dry out before you start sitting on seats or gripping a steering wheel covered in the material.
- Finally, if your car still smells stale, sprinkle the carpet and cloth seats with dry bicarbonate of soda. Let it remain overnight and then vacuum it away. You can also control odours by placing some bicarbonate of soda or activated charcoal in a sealed plastic container. Cut some slits in the lid and place it under one of the seats. Change the contents every other month.
- If you have a dog, and the vacuum does not remove all the fur, try using a rubber-dipped glove. Simply brush the hair away with your hand, and it sticks to the glove-like magic! There are also brushes specifically designed for this.
- For muddy and greasy areas in the car, use an all purpose cleaner (APC), And if the seats or carpets are very soiled, use a bit of APC with a bit of upholstery cleaner, spray it down and use an extraction machine to remove the water and soap. Go over as many times as you need till the stains are gone.
You might also consider keeping small paper or plastic bags in the car for collecting rubbish as it accumulates, rather than waiting for a cleaning day.
Keeping your car clean and dealing with spills and stains immediately will also count in your favour if you decide to trade it in on a new car.
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