How To Clean Your Car Interior In 5 Easy Steps


Did you know that most drivers spend anywhere between one and four hours inside their cars each day? As a result, car interiors tend to be dirty and cluttered spaces.  Not only can you expect to find dust, dirt, and trash inside your car, but it’s not uncommon to find dead skin, hair, and other gross things as shown in this Top Gear video. In this article, we will show you how to clean the interior of your car in five easy steps. 

Step 1 – Remove items from the interior

how to clean car interior - step 1

Just like cleaning a room in your house, start by removing all the items inside your car that might get in the way. This ranges from floor mats and seat covers to things like old beverage cans, used napkins, and receipts. Also, remove everything from the glove box, trunk and other storage compartments. In doing so, you will not only make the cleaning steps easier, but you will also have the chance to separate the things you need to keep in your car from the unnecessary stuff.

Step 2 – Wipe down all interior surfaces

how to clean car interior - step 2

With everything out of the way, start by cleaning all the interior surfaces except for the seats and carpet. To avoid transferring dirt from one spot to another, we recommend starting from the top and working your way down. Use an automotive glass cleaner and paper towels to clean the windows, which will remove thin layers of buildup that can obstruct visibility. You may need to repeat this a few times to achieve a spotless finish.

Next, move onto the dashboard and other plastic trims. Although dust is most common on these surfaces, you may also find other types of stains. In most cases, you can remove these stains with a microfiber towel and a little bit of warm water. However, if you encounter any stubborn spots, you may need to use a gentle automotive interior cleaner and soft brush to agitate the stain loose. Additionally, be sure to clean in between the cracks and crevices with a soft brush.

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Be sure to use a gentle interior cleaner, so you don’t create a chemical reaction with any interior parts. Here are tried and true products we recommend that are both gentle yet effective:

Step 3 – Vacuum the interior

how to clean car interior - vacuum

With the glass and plastic trim taken care of, it is time to remove the dirt and dust from all seats, carpet, floor mats, and storage compartments. You will need a strong vacuum cleaner and several suitable extensions, which will be helpful for the hard-to-reach areas. If you have any tough to remove carpet stains, check out this video and follow these simples steps:

  1. Vacuum the carpet first to pick up any loose dirt and debris.
  2. Saturate the stain with carpet cleaner and wait a few minutes for the carpet cleaner to begin working.
  3. Use a stiff brush to agitate carpet cleaner, which will trap dirt and debris.
  4. Wipe away or vacuum up the dirty carpet cleaner residue.
  5. Allow the carpet to dry.

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Step 4 – Protect the interior from harmful UV rays

Now, your car interior should be very clean. However, you still need to protect the interior from harmful UV rays, which can cause fading and cracking. When picking an interior protectant, avoid products that leave a greasy, shiny residue as this will attract dust and dirt. Instead, go with a quality protectant like Aerospace 303 UV Protectant, which cleans and improves the interiors appearance. To apply protectant, simply spray the protectant onto a clean microfiber towel and work it into the interior surfaces. When you are done, buff the interior surfaces dry with a clean microfiber towel so you have a nice even finish throughout the cabin.

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Step 5 – Clean and condition leather surfaces

Just like your skin, leather needs regular cleanings and moisturizing to prevent from drying out and cracking. While cars today use numerous types of natural and synthetic leathers, here’s a simple maintenance regimen that works on virtually any type of leather. As shown in the video above, follow these simple steps to keep your leather in great condition.

  1. After vacuuming the seats, spray an all-in-one leather cleaner/condition like Sonax Leather Foam directly onto the leather surface.
  2. Allow the cleaner to start breaking down the dirt.
  3. Before the cleaner can dry, use a soft brush to agitate and trap any dirt remaining.
  4. Use a microfiber towel to wipe away the dirty cleaner residue.
  5. Lastly, use a clean microfiber towel to buff dry the leather so you have a nice even finish.

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A dirty and neglected car interior is much more than just an aesthetic issue. Whether it’s the start of a groggy morning or end of a stressful workday, a clean interior will make you feel better and keep you safer on the road. However, with these 5 simple steps, you can keep your interior looking great for years to come.

To see how you can save money on maintaining your car, check out our detailed maintenance guides. While we encourage car owners to do-it-yourself to save money, we understand DIY is not for everyone. Check out our service center recommendations to find a highly rated mechanic near you. Thanks for reading and subscribe to eCarGuides to get the latest information for all of your car ownership needs.

2 comments on “How To Clean Your Car Interior In 5 Easy Steps

  1. Michael Schweitzer says:

    Actually, modern leather doesn’t need moisturizer of any sort. The coloring is synthetic and moisturizer will not penetrate. If any thing it will remove the coloring. Your advice is not well informed.

    • ecarguidesllc says:

      You are right that the leather condition has a hard time penetrating modern leathers. However, as leather ages or if it is perforated, it is still possible for the leather to absorb the conditioner and keep the leather soft. Regarding the color, as long as you use a high quality condition, it shouldn’t remove the any color.

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