Although it is relatively easy to clean the dirt on the exterior of your vehicle, you need to take special time and pay attention to details to clean the dirt inside. Because a magic interior cleaning robot like the one used to wash your car's exterior has yet to be invented, and unless you're willing to pay someone else to do the dirty work for you, it's time to roll up your sleeves.

Vehicle Interior Cleaning Safety

Believe it or not, you can hurt yourself if you do not take the necessary precautions while cleaning the interior of your car.

  • It may seem unnecessary, but wear gloves and eye protection when working with chemicals such as conditioning sprays and cleaning cloths. Additionally, in-car airflow is very important.
  • Use caution when reaching under seats and other obstructed areas. There are many sharp objects that can cut or scratch your hands.
  • Unless you have no other option, avoid trying to clean your car while parked in a busy area or on a high-traffic street. While you're working, it's best to drive your vehicle to a place where you can get in and out freely and safely.

Material List: Everything You Need to Clean Your Vehicle's Interior

You probably have most of the ingredients on this list, but even those you don't have are not hard to buy:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Towels, both cloth and paper
  • microfiber cloth
  • window cleaner
  • Synthetic fabric and/or leather cleaner and conditioner
  • carpet cleaner
  • Garbage bag
  • Extension cable (if necessary)
  • Gloves (if necessary)
  • Eye protection (if necessary)

Organizing your tools and equipment so everything is within easy reach will save you wasted minutes waiting for your child or four-legged helper to find and fetch the necessary supplies.

You'll also need a level work area, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking lot. Check your local laws to make sure you're not breaking any rules when using the street.

Here Are Suggestions on How to Clean the Interior of Your Car

Find a Cool Area with Good Lighting

  • Working in the sun is not only uncomfortable, it also makes cleaning products less effective. If the product is left for too long, it may react with heat and stain or damage the interior.

Remove Trash and Clutter

  • Grab your trash bags and a pair of gloves.
  • Start by removing any old french fry boxes, fast food bags, and trash you can find inside your vehicle. Be sure to pay attention to the trunk as well. If you have a child, check their armpits and between the seats. They like to hide crayons, snack wrappers, and other trash in hard-to-reach places.
  • Remove anything that is not vital to operating the vehicle you are transporting. Take the time to finally donate that bag of clothes that's been lurking in your trunk for six months, and be sure to remove any dirty clothes or shoes in the process.

Clean Interior Surfaces

Since you will be using a vacuum cleaner during this process, it is best to remove dirt from the upper surface before cleaning the lower surfaces. Just like you would start washing your car from the top, this will make it even easier to pick up all the debris.

  • Starting with the dash, wipe away dust and dirt using a microfiber duster, a cleaning/smoothing cloth, or a microfiber towel and a spray designed to remove dirt from automotive surfaces.

- Wipe the steering wheel, instrument cluster, gearbox and other tight areas. Hair, dust, and other dirt tend to accumulate in these places, so you'll want to be very careful.

- If you use tissues/paper towels, change them frequently to ensure you clean the interior evenly. If you use a towel and spray, turn the towel inside out or buy a new one to prevent spreading dirt.

- If you really want a thorough clean, use a toothbrush to remove hair and other debris from around your climate control buttons and gear lever.

  • Use glass cleaning spray and a microfiber towel to clean the glass inside your vehicle.

- Try to stay away from glass cleaners containing ammonia. It may damage plastics and other surfaces inside the cabin.

- If your car has tinted/tinted windows, read the warnings of the cleaner you will use to make sure you use one that will not ruin the tint/film work.

- It's best to work in small areas to prevent the spray from drying or causing streaks before you've even finished cleaning.

Start Vacuuming

  • Before vacuuming, remove the vehicle's floor mats, if any. This allows you to isolate dirty floor mats and shake off dirt from the outside of the vehicle.
  • Vacuum the sofas before you start on the carpets. If you have a fine tip attachment for your vacuum cleaner, it is best to use this attachment to reach cracks and crevices in fabric or leather.
  • Vacuum the vents where the windshields meet the top of the dashboard and, if applicable, behind the rear seats in your car.
  • Continue sweeping the floor. Start under the seats and be sure to vacuum between the seats and interior bodywork, such as the center console or doors. Slide the seat forward and back to reach all those crevices. If your vacuum cleaner has a small brush attachment, it can help remove hair and other debris from your carpet. Specially designed pet hair brushes can also be useful.
  • Vacuum the mats thoroughly before reinstalling them. If your mats are all-weather mats, it's a good idea to spray them with a hose and scrub them to remove mud and other debris. Let it dry before reattaching.

To finish the job, replace the floor mats and other parts of the vehicle interior that you removed during the cleaning process. Check your work to make sure you haven't missed anything major and note any stains or spots that couldn't be removed during cleaning. Those stubborn stains that won't come off may require professional help or additional attention with a special stain removal spray or tool. If it suits you, now is the time to install an air freshener in your vehicle.

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