Cleaning Your Car's Interior

When was the last time you gave the inside of your car a proper clean? If it’s been a while, then this guide is good timing indeed. And when it comes to a clean car, a shiny exterior definitely looks the part, but we reckon what’s inside is just as important. 

A clean, tidy interior doesn’t just mean you’ll have taken care of all that dirt, grime and bacteria. You’ll be able to experience comfortable, clutter-free driving wherever it is you’re heading – whether it’s a quick trip or a long journey with the family. 

Over the course of this guide, we’ll show you how to give your car’s interior a proper spruce up to get it looking as good as new once again. 

How to Clean the Interior of a Car

Throw Out the Rubbish

There’s a good chance your car’s become a bit of a makeshift bin if you haven’t cleaned it for a while. First things first, be sure to throw out all the rubbish that’s accumulated on the floor and in the door pockets, seat pockets and cup holders. If there are any toys, baby seats or other items in there too, now’s the time to remove them. 

Tip – struggle with clutter? Try our Large Universal Boot Organiser, perfect for keeping those in-car essentials in one place. And if rubbish is a problem, our 10l In-Car Litter Bin is all you need to maintain a clean, tidy and hygienic interior. 

Remove and Clean the Floor Mats

Your floor mats are bound to have dirt, mud and dust trodden into them. Remove them from your car and give them a thorough shake. But remember to place them on something other than the ground – you don’t want to end up getting more dirt on them. 

Carpeted mats can be cleaned using a carpet or upholstery cleaner – just be sure to follow the instructions. With rubber, vinyl, or silicone mats, you’ll want to use a hose to wash away excess dirt, before using a scrubbing brush to remove leftover residue. Rinse them well and hang dry them while you clean the rest of your car. 

Vacuum the Interior

Hoover all the grime and dirt you’ve dislodged, as well as what’s accumulated since your last clean with your vacuum cleaner. In-car vacuum cleaners can help with those hard-to-reach places, as well. Remember to do the same to the carpet in your car’s boot, too. 

Clean the Interior Windows and Mirror

A microfibre cloth and some window cleaner (that’s ammonia free) will help to restore some sheen to your windows and the interior mirrors. Or you can make your own window cleaner by mixing one part distilled vinegar with ten parts water. Whichever you go for, both approaches will make light work of streaks, fingerprints and grime.

Remember to lower the windows slightly before you start. Work from the top down so you can catch any drips, too.

Clean the Centre Console

The gearstick and cup holder in your centre console can collect dirt, grime, and bacteria so will need a clean too. If the cup holder is removable, let it soak in warm water and some dishwashing liquid before you scrub it with a sponge. Wipe it down with a cloth and rinse with fresh water. 

When it comes to the gearstick, use a clean, slightly damp microfibre cloth or our Car Care Wipes, which are safe to use on both leather and vinyl surfaces.

Give the Dashboard a Once Over

Next, move on to the dashboard. If it’s dusty, which it probably is, take a duster or vacuum cleaner and remove as much as you can. To get its vents and around any knobs, use a cotton swab. Then use a slightly damp microfibre cloth to clean up any grime and fingerprints.

Take Care of the Steering Wheel

The steering wheel will have seen its fair share of daily use, meaning germs and bacteria are probably lurking on its surface. Get it looking fresh again with our Car Care Wipes before drying it with a clean microfibre cloth.

Clean the Seats

If your car has leather seats, then use your vacuum crevice tool to remove any dust and grime in the stitching. Then with a commercial leather cleaner specifically designed for automotive care, wipe down each seat. For an extra touch, use a leather conditioner for some added shine. 

Upholstered car seats will also need vacuum cleaning in the same way. Take care of any stains with an upholstery cleaner. More stubborn spots can be dealt with using a paste of oxygen-based bleach and some water. Apply the paste to the area, leave for at least an hour, and then vacuum it away. 

Once you’ve removed these heavy stains, use an upholstery cleaner on the entire seat, working it into the fabric with a scrub brush. Clean away both the grime and cleaner with a microfibre cloth dipped in water. Blot the upholstery with a clean, dry towel and then allow the seats to air dry. 

Clean the Door Panels

Whether your door panels are a combination of carpet and vinyl or leather, use a damp microfibre cloth to wipe them down, as well as the door pockets. Be sure to open the doors so the dirt doesn’t get on your newly vacuumed interior.

Removing Odours from Your Car

There’s nothing quite like that new car smell. But over time, things like food, dirt and other whiffs can leave your car smelling stale – not ideal when others are travelling alongside you! Most of the above should be enough to take care of any smells, but if not, you can always try the following:

  • Sprinkle dry baking soda onto the carpet and cloth seats. Leave it overnight before vacuuming it away.

  • Place some baking soda or activated charcoal in a sealed plastic container. Cut some slits in the lid and place it under one of the seats to create a makeshift air freshener. Be sure to change the contents every other month.

  • If the smell still lingers, then a commercial upholstery odour remover such as Febreze should be able to do the trick. However, if strong smells caused by mould are persisting, then you should take it to a professional 

This guide should’ve equipped you with the know-how needed to smarten up your interior, but our helpful tips don’t stop here. If you’re looking for more actionable advice, be sure to check out our hub of car cleaning tips and hints – whether it’s shampooing, polishing or figuring out what products you should use, we’ve got you covered.

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