When spring cleaning migrates from the house to the car, don’t settle for a quick hose wash and wax of the exterior, followed by a quick vacuuming inside. For the investment of an hour’s time, you can detail your car’s interior like a pro. Here’s how, step by step:
Popular Mechanics suggests starting with a thorough vacuuming. Remove the mats and carefully vacuum everywhere- under the seats, the dash, panels, and the rear parcel shelf.
Once the vacuuming is complete, it’s time for carpet cleaning, starting with the floor mats. Certified carpet cleaning tech Mobol Werks laid out the process on the forum in Auto Geek Online. He says to use about 4 ounces of 303 Fabric and Vinyl Cleaner per gallon of water in a large tub. This product is not detergent-based, which is important because detergent-based cleaner residue left behind will attract more dirt. Mobol Werks recommends submerging the mats and applying a soft bristle brush, then rinsing in clear water. Use the appropriate stain remover for the type of stain to tackle any remaining stains. Once the mats are re-rinsed and dried, protect them from dirt and stains with an application of a solvent-based protectant. No solvent = no stain protection.
For the floors, Mobol Werks says use the same cleaning solution and soft brush, being careful not to oversoak the carpet. When the cleaning is complete, remove excess water with a wet-dry vac.
When it comes to the dash and console, it’s important to choose the proper cleaning agent. The wrong product can degrade the surface or leave permanent stains. Car Talk advises checking the owner’s manual before choosing a cleaning product. With the proper cleaner in hand, clean the dash and console. For hard-to-reach crevices, toggle the vacuum on and off or use a can of compressed air to blow out dust. Alternatively, bring in the low-tech tools like toothbrushes and ear swabs. These can also be used to remove dirt from the air vents and crevices in the doors and elsewhere.
The transparent plastic on the instrument panel is often susceptible to scratching, Car Talk warns, so use a special plastic cleaner like Plexus.
When cleaning car windows, avoid products with ammonia (this rules out most household glass cleaners.) Auto Geek explains ammonia can be detrimental to plastics, rubber, vinyl and leather in the car. Ammonia also cannot be used on tinted windows. The fumes from ammonia can be hazardous in any enclosed space.
Follow these tips, and no one will know you cleaned your vehicle’s interior yourself.