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Car interior cleaning checklist

For most car users, cleaning the interior can be a cumbersome task, especially as most assume that it will take hours to clean. But cleaning your car’s cabin can be a breeze, especially if you know the step-by-step processes to thoroughly get rid it of stains, dust and litter.

Do note, however, that unlike cleaning your car’s exterior, using water to prep up your interior is a serious no-no. Water can cause problems to your ride’s electrical components and even bring stains, corrosion and that damp moldy smell (like most flooded cars). Below is Carmudi’s car interior cleaning checklist that can be followed for any type of car.

Vacuuming the interior

Car vacuuming

Vacuums are a great tool for cleaning your interior, especially when removing dirt from your carpet and seats. When cleaning the floor, don’t forget to remove the mats as this is where most dust settles. Use proper attachments to vacuum in those hard to reach areas such as under the seat, around the pedals and the area around the center console and front seats.

When cleaning the dashboard, it is advisable to use a soft brush attachment. Be careful when you run it down the knobs, vents and other protruding parts of your dash. You can also use the same attachment when cleaning the seats. For a leather-covered upholstery, be very gentle as it are more susceptible to scratches than any other type of fabrics.

Cleaning smears and stains

Cleaning car upholstery

Sometimes we can not help but bring food or other items inside the cabin that can potentially leave stains. Perhaps you went to your local café and ordered a to-go coffee, only to spill it all over your car seat. So what do you do?

Depending on how serious the stain is, you can remove the seat and clean it separately before drying it in the sun and re-installing it again. But that can be tedious. Instead, you can use spray cleaners to clean your upholstery. Upon application, they just need to be rubbed vigorously and the stain should disappear. Using a dry soft cloth, wipe it thoroughly to dry.

Minor stains can also be cleaned by regular laundry detergent mixed in warm water. Dip a clean cloth into this simple concoction and squeeze it out well, leaving just a tiny bit of moisture (remember no water on the interior). Work harder on dirty areas and finish it off with a soft dry cloth.

Taking care of leather problems

Cleaning a leather upholstery

Not only is leather interior expensive, it also requires a more delicate way to clean. Use only the best products formulated for cleaning leather seats. When you are testing out a new product, try it out first on a small area to make sure it is not too harsh for your upholstery. Some products can make the leather tacky or sticky, while some make it slippery or shiny. Always use a clean cotton towel when wiping it and never use paper towels- they leave scratches.

When cleaning your leather steering wheel and sifter knob, it is advisable to use a clean and barely moist cotton towel. If you still insist in using a leather care product, make sure it is not a variant that makes it sticky or slippery.

Cleaning the carpet

Cleaning car mats

You can clean the carpet using laundry detergent solution, but be very wary of the amount of water in your cotton cloth. Work on one area at a time. If you have a cleaner that has a brush on it, use it on dirtier areas. Always finish your routine with a dry cloth. Dry the carpet as fast as you can to prevent mold from forming.

Polishing wood and plastic dashboard

Polishing a car dashboard

As always, you can use a barely moist clean cloth. But make sure not to get water on any of the electrical devices in your car. You can always use a small amount of spray polish to make your woodgrain-finished dash shinier. Do not, however, spray them directly onto the stereo and other electrical parts. Instead, use a brush.

When choosing a polishing product, go for one that not only makes your dash shiny, but also shields and protects the plastic. You can also use a soft duster for dusting the dashboard.

Cleaning the windows

cleaning car windows

One of the easiest parts of your interior to clean is the windows. To do this, simply use a window-cleaning spray and glass-cleaning towel for better results. A moist clean towel is also permissible. Be careful, however, when cleaning the rear window from the inside- it’s easy to damage the heating lines of the defogger grid.

Getting rid of bad smell

Cleaning car air vents

If you are still experiencing an unpleasant musty smell, despite your effort of cleaning the entire cabin, you can look into your air conditioner. Often installing a car freshener or other odor treatment products (which also kill bacteria and mildew) is enough to solve the problem. Spraying this into the outside air intake vent is more effective.

Also check if the drain tube has clogs or debris under the cowl panel. There are also times when mildew has accumulated under the cowl which causes that unusual smell. If you are unsure how to clean this part of your car, simply ask a mechanic at your next oil change.

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