The Importance of Cleaning Your Car’s Interior like a Pro
A clean car is a happy car. And let’s be honest, your car deserves to be happy. Whether you find it therapeutic or view it as a necessary evil, cleaning the inside of your car is important maintenance that should not be neglected. While the task may seem daunting at first, it’s actually not as difficult as it may seem. The hardest part is simply making the decision to do it.
Keeping the interior of your car clean offers several benefits. Not only does it help maintain the resale value of your vehicle, but it also contributes to a safer and longer-lasting vehicle. Additionally, a clean car interior smells better and creates a more pleasant driving experience overall.
Fortunately, cleaning the inside of your car doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. With the right products and processes in place, you can achieve a professional-level clean in just a few hours. As someone with over 25 years of experience cleaning cars and six years of professional detailing, I have gathered the essential steps, along with some tips and tricks, to take your car’s interior cleanliness to the next level.
Step 1: Empty It
The first step in cleaning your car’s interior is to empty it completely. Remove everything from the vehicle, including floor mats, ice scrapers, tow ropes, emergency kit bags, child seats, and kids’ toys. You’ll be surprised by how much stuff is rolling around in your car. By removing everything, you can properly clean every crevice and ensure a thorough cleaning process.
Step 2: Suck It
Once your car is empty, it’s time to vacuum all the dirt, grime, and crumbs out of every nook and cranny. While dust busters and hand-held vacuum cleaners can be convenient, they may not have the suction power of a shop vac. To achieve the best results, use a shop vac with a few horsepower and attachments such as a dusting brush, crevice tool, and floor brush.
Start from the front of the car and work your way to the back, moving from top to bottom. Vacuum the dashboard and center console using the dusting brush to get rid of loose dust and crumbs. However, avoid using this attachment on screens. Vacuuming the dash before wiping it is more efficient and prevents scratching or marring. Be gentle with the vacuum and never push down too hard.
Next, move on to the seats and use the crevice tool to extract dirt, grime, and crumbs from the cracks. Gently pull apart the material near the seams to open up the crevice and allow the vacuum to pick up every last crumb. When it comes to the carpeted floor, adjust the front seats to their highest positions (both forward and backward) to access hard-to-reach areas. Use the crevice tool to vacuum under the seats, seat tracks, and plastic covers where grime tends to accumulate. Finish off by using the floor brush to clean the wide swaths of carpet.
For back seat or cargo areas in SUVs, minivans, or pickup trucks, it’s crucial to move every seat into various positions and open up every storage cubby. Crumbs love to hide in these dark, hidden spots, and thorough vacuuming will help eliminate them.
Step 3: Wipe It
Once all the dirt and crumbs have been removed, it’s time to clean and protect the plastics, vinyl, and leather parts of your car’s interior. To achieve the best results, use a clean microfiber rag and a cleaner/protectant without any sheen or sticky residue. Avoid buying just any product off the shelf. Based on my experience, products from trusted brands like 303, AMMO, Meguiar’s, Wizards, and Griot’s Garage offer the best results without leaving behind greasy residue or harming the surfaces.
When it comes to cleaning leather, use a special cleaner/protectant from one of the recommended brands with a clean microfiber rag, leather sponge, or your own hands for application.
To clean the glass inside and out, use a clean microfiber rag or high-quality paper towel with an ammonia-free glass cleaner like Sprayaway Glass Cleaner or Stoner Glass Cleaner. Clean windows enhance visibility and make driving easier and safer.
Don’t forget about the air vents, particularly if it has been a while since your vehicle was last cleaned. Dust and gunk tend to accumulate in the vents over time. You can use a Q-tip or attach an inexpensive vent brush to the end of your vacuum to clean these vents. However, remember to be gentle as the vents are made of plastic and can break if too much pressure is applied.
Step 4: So Fresh, So Clean
Once all the surfaces have been wiped clean, it’s time to put the mats and necessary items back into the vehicle. This is also a good opportunity to assess and determine which items are truly necessary for daily use. For example, in spring, you can remove the snow scraper or store it in a cargo hold or under a rear seat. This helps avoid it becoming a potential projectile in case of an accident during the spring, summer, and fall months.
By following these steps and performing a deep clean, you can maintain your car’s interior cleanliness with bi-weekly cleaning sessions. This routine maintenance will ensure your vehicle’s interior remains clean, making each driving experience more pleasant and enjoyable.
Remember, a clean car is a happy car. Take the time to give your car the attention it deserves, and you’ll reap the benefits of a well-maintained vehicle that not only looks great but also provides a safer and more enjoyable driving experience.