The Do’s and Don’ts of Detailing Your Interior

Now that the outside of your car looks great, it’s time to tackle the interior. A thorough deep-cleaning should be done at least twice a year. If you live in a place with heavy winters, it’s a good idea to schedule your detailing for fall and spring. Of course, depending on how many children and pets you have, you may want to deep-clean more often.

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DON’T: Work in a hot car

Remember the heat penalty? It’s worse for interiors because they can get so much hotter than exteriors, as anyone who’s forgotten to park in the shade on a hot day knows. Do your detail work in a shady spot, first thing in the morning or after the sun has set if you don’t have a covered place to work. No need to burn yourself on the dashboard. Plus, cleaning products generally perform better in a cool environment away from direct sunlight.

DO: Declutter

Start by removing everything from your car that doesn’t belong there (garbage, crayons, chew toys, etc.), including items in the trunk. Loose objects and clutter can make driving hazardous, plus ridding your car of these things will make it easier to clean, eliminate any lingering smells and generally just lighten your load.

DON’T: Clean your floor mats while they are installed

Once your car is decluttered and all trash has been removed, take out the floor mats. Give them a good shake to knock dirt loose. For hard vinyl or rubber mats, rinse them with water, then follow up with a good surface cleaner. We like ENZYME ALL PURPOSE concentrated interior cleaner. It eliminates odors caused by dampness, mildew, mold, food and organic matter and cleans deep down. Allow floor mats to dry – replacing them will be your last step.

auto detailing brushes
Fine detailing brush (top) for getting into dashboard cracks and crevices. Soft bristled vent duster brush (bottom).

DO: Dust before you vacuum

Using a high-quality microfiber towel, wipe every surface starting at the ceiling and working your way down. The microfiber will trap any loose dirt and dust and save you time when you vacuum.

Brush out your vents. Use some small detail brushes to clean out these spaces where dust and dirt accumulate. A little TLC goes a long way here.

Make sure to get between and around center console buttons and dials. These are popular places for crumbs to gather and a little time here will pay big dividends in the end. Use a dedicated plastic cleaner for any dials, gauges or buttons in your car. Be sure to use an ammonia-free cleaner.

plexall plastic ammonia-free tinted glass cleaner 1010
PLEXALL™ is safe for all plastics including fiberglass.

Take a microfiber towel, spray it with an all-purpose surface cleaner and wrap it around a plastic ruler or wooden paint stick. You’ve just made a dashboard-cleaning tool that can even reach the narrow ledge where the dash meets the windshield.

Vacuum out cup holders–or, if possible, remove them–to give them a thorough cleaning. You don’t always want your car smelling like that latte that spilled last week.

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Open all doors (including the hatchback if you have one) and wipe them down. Vacuum out the pockets. Wipe down the doors with a surface cleaner.

Clean the windows, including the windshield and rear window. Roll your side windows down about halfway so you can clean the top inch on both sides. Make sure to use a clean, high quality lint-free cloth. Rotate the cloth frequently to avoid redistributing any dirt. Streaks can occur if you don’t.

DO: Protect your interior surfaces

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Our Foam Disinfectant Cleaner safely disinfects most bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Have lots of friends and family sharing your ride? Use a disinfectant cleaner first on all those high-touch surfaces. You can then apply a protectant to your dashboard, door and window trim to resist sun damage, drying and cracking. Skip the steering wheel, floor mats and pedals. You don’t want slippery surfaces there.

When all hard surfaces are clean, move to the seats. Start with a pet hair brush if needed. Vacuum thoroughly – get down between the cushions. Next, spot-treat any stains with a good spot remover. Shampoo seats and seat belts, and let dry completely.

DO: Treat your upholstery right

Fabri-Foam fabric and velour spot remover 1051
FABRI FOAM™ spot remover gently nd expertly cleans all types of velour, fabric and carpet surfaces.

Remember to use only as much product as needed. Fabric that has been over-soaked can mildew or mold.

DON’T: Forget the trunk

The last area to clean is the carpeting. Start by vacuuming all carpeted areas. Slide the front seats forward and backward as needed to reach underneath them. Remember to get the deck behind the back seats, if you have one. Vacuum carpeted floor mats.

Now it’s time to clean out that trunk with nice front to back vacuuming, followed by removing any spots or dirt in the carpeting. While you’re there, open up the compartment where the spare tire is stored. Scoop out any debris that has collected and now is also a good time to check the tire pressure on your spare – you never know when it might be needed.

Spot-treat carpet stains and follow up with a carpet shampoo.

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DO: Add the finishing touches

Once your carpets are clean and dry, replace the floor mats. Finish the job with an odor neutralizer or a new air freshener to customize the scent of your ride.

Keep a vent duster, detail brush and clean microfiber cloth handy to keep your car looking great when you’ve got a few minutes to spare. If you’ve got some furry friends, a quick once-over with a pet hair brush on a regular basis will help keep Fido’s fur tamed down.

DO: Go for a drive to enjoy your clean car!