Between carpools, shopping trips, commuting to work, and eating in your car can get it dirty real quick, if research into the number of bacteria in rideshare services is anything to go by. But unless major paint correction is required, detailing the interior of your car is usually a much more labor-intensive process than cleaning the outside. After all, you need to clean a variety of different materials and hard-to-reach places with a couple of different cleaning products.
But how often should you actually detail your car’s interior? According to Today.com, it should happen once a month. Moreover, Michael Dickson, the president of the International Detailing Association, suggests that we bring our cars to a professional detailing service twice a year.
With a just basic car detailing service costing between $50 and $125 for regular size cars, and $75 to $150 for a van or SUV, we understand if you want to do the monthly detailing yourself. And with that in mind, we’ll share a couple of simple tricks and tips for interior car detailing to keep your car looking like new.
The most important thing to keep your car’s leather upholstery looking as good as possible is to clean up any spills or marks as soon as they happen as this increases your chances of removing them completely. If lipstick or dies from clothing and ink aren’t removed within 24-hours or more, they might become permanent or at least incredibly difficult to remove. Fortunately, there are numerous kits for cleaning leather upholstery in cars which you can leave in your car to help remove stains as they happen.
However, always do a spot-test for any new leather cleaners in a small and hidden part of your upholstery to make sure that it works without negative side effects. You should also vacuum before anything else to prevent loose particles like dirt and grime from stretching seats or getting rubbed into the leather.
Car Air Vents
One thing people overlook often is the air vents in their cars which are usually a huge magnet for all sorts of dust and nasty things. Fortunately, you can clean them up quite quickly if you use the brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner to loosen up the dirt and then pick it up. In the case that the brush attachment fails to pick everything up, a simple paintbrush can help you finish the job.
When detailing a car’s interior you should give the carpets and upholstery a deep-clean. However, go from top to bottom to prevent dirt and dust from falling down on freshly cleaned carpets. A professional carpet cleaning machine or premium consumer product will be able to quickly pick up all the dirt and gunk that has accumulated over time.
Most carpet cleaners work by spraying a solution that makes carpets look new but at the same time vacuum all the grime. If you don’t have an adequate vacuum for the job, you could always rent one on a short-term basis, instead of buying a new machine. Keep in mind that sometimes car carpets just get too dirty for you to be able to clean them up. If that’s your case, you should buy a replacement.
The typical car interior has many vinyl and plastic surfaces that are usually easy to maintain with an all-purpose cleaning agent, some microfiber rags, and brushes. Still, you might have trouble with some marks that just don’t want to come out even if you use the stiffest brush.
When that happens, we recommend that you use isopropyl alcohol, as it can remove things like shoe scuffs and marks very effectively, but be careful. Other than that, you should have a foam pad cleaner and melamine block in your car cleaning arsenal for those most stubborn marks.
Fixing Squeaky Doors
An annoying and squeaky door is something most of us put up with, but it can be taken care of quickly with only a few squirts of WD-40. Keep in mind that WD-40 and similar products are degreasers that flush and loosen up stuck or squeaky parts. Once the door loses its creek, make sure to lubricate the hinges with a little bit of lithium grease or motor oil to keep rust and corrosion at bay. At this point, it’s wise to also check things like door latches for any signs of rust and spray some silicone inside to keep them in top working condition.
- “How to clean your car interior,” Today, Karen B. Gibbs, 28 August, 2017,
- “The IDA – Your Resource for Professional Detailing,” IDA,
- “Average Car Detailing Prices by Vehicle Size,” CarDirect, 27 March, 2012,