How to Detail and Clean the Interior of a Car

How to Detail and Clean the Interior of a Car

Cleaning your car is like cleaning your house—it's all about work flow. There's a certain order of doing things when detailing a car, mostly to avoid dirtying surfaces you've already cleaned. Also, as with housecleaning, standardizing the way you clean your car assures that you don't miss any hard-to-reach or hard-to-remember spots. Follow these instructions from start to finish and your car will shine inside.

TOOLS:

• Vacuum cleaner

• Rags

MATERIALS:

• Foaming car upholstery cleaner

• Compressed air

• Cotton swabs

• Glass cleaner

• Surface cleaner

1 Clean the floor mats. Remove all mats, front and back, and beat them free of debris. A heavy shoe works well, or a broom handle. Outside the car, coat the floor mats with a foaming cleaner designed for car upholstery. Work the cleaner into the mats with a rag and continue adding cleaner until the mats are saturated. Let them sit while you work on the rest of the interior. When they're dry, vacuum them and put them back into the floorboards.

How to Detail and Clean the Interior of a Car

2 Vacuum the interior. Use a coin-operated car-wash vacuum, a wet-dry vacuum, or, as a last resort, your household vacuum to clean the car's upholstery. Use the smallest nozzle attachment to vacuum hard-to-reach places like the insides of door panel pockets, around the gearshift, and along the front dash and rear window ledge. Push the front seats all the way forward and then vacuum behind and underneath them. Push the seats all the way backward and vacuum underneath from the front. Don't forget the trunk and in between the backseats, where crumbs tend to accumulate.

How to Detail and Clean the Interior of a Car

3 Shampoo the upholstery. Use the foaming cleaner on the interior, this time stopping short of saturating it so you don't get mildew. If you have a vinyl or leather interior be sure to use a cleaner specific to the material (not foaming upholstery cleaner!).

How to Detail and Clean the Interior of a Car

4 Clean the nooks and crannies. Use a can of compressed air to blow dirt, dust, and grime from crevices and areas around buttons and dials. Use cotton swabs to clean air vents.

How to Detail and Clean the Interior of a Car

5 Wipe down interior surfaces like the dashboard, parking brake, plastic interior panels, console, and steering wheel with an interior cleaner.

How to Detail and Clean the Interior of a Car

6 Clean the glass. Use a glass cleaner (such as Windex) and a lint-free rag or paper towels to clean the insides of all windows, as well as the rearview and vanity mirrors.

How to Detail and Clean the Interior of a Car

Ray Harroun won the 1911 Indianapolis 500 after he attached a mirror to see behind his car instead of using a lookout (a crewman positioned to watch competing cars). It was thus that the rearview mirror was born.

QUICK FIX FOR UPHOLSTERY HOLES

If you have a small hole or stain in your car's upholstery, consider using a razor blade to cut a patch just bigger than the unsightly hole from an unseen area, like the underside of a seat. Then use the razor blade to clean the edges of the hole or cut around the stain. Use a small amount of epoxy or other water-resistant adhesive to carefully glue the patch in place. Holes in vinyl or leather upholstery can be patched with kits made for those materials.

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