Let’s face it, for many people their car is their second home. They use it for going back and forth to work and also to ferry the kids to practice, lessons and friends’ houses, only to go and pick them up and start all over again.
So, it is no surprise that the interior can get a little “messy”. Add in a bad winter or lots mud and rain, and some snacks, and you can easily end up with a not only a dirty car, but an odd smelling one too!
You could treat yourself and pay big bucks to have the car interior cleaned and detailed by a professional service, but this can add up quickly. There are ways you can do this yourself very quickly at home and save a few bucks as well as just feel better in the car. After all if you have to almost live in the car it might as well feel clean and organized.
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Interior Car Cleaning Tips
Vacuum – Whether you do this in your driveway, garage or at the car wash this is one of the easiest ways to stay on top of the debris and crumbs that can build up in the car. This will also give you a chance to find things laying on the floor or down the seats. If this is all you do, this will make a huge difference especially if you suck up debris from the seats, cup holders and the floor.
Have a bag with you while you are vacuuming out the car so that every time you find toys, money, toy parts, you can put them in this bag to sort later. Don’t forget the pockets on the backs of the front seats as kids love to stay things there.
It is best to invest in a “shop vac” rather than dragging out your house vacuum. A shop vac has more power and will tolerate food wrappers and other larger items without getting jammed up. If you don’t want to purchase one, then pay the 3 dollars at the car washes to vacuum out the car it is well worth it and they have good suction.
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Clean Seats - Upholstery
Take a look online for a kit or checkout the local hardware stores for upholstery cleaner that works dry and is specific to cars. You don’t want to be wetting the seats in a car and then have to wait a day for them to dry. You can get very gentle upholstery cleaners that are spray foam that you brush around and then vacuum off that work well and yet are gentle on the nose.
Start with an initial vacuuming first to get rid of crumbs and debris and then tackle the seats; don’t forget to use this on the backs of the front seats where kid’s feet tend to kick. If you get a cleaner specifically designed for car upholstery you will be amazed at how well it will come up.
You simply vacuum off the residue and dirt that it loosens off the seats. If you do this at least each season you will stay on top of any stains and it will keep your car looking new when it comes time to trade-in too!
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Do NOT spray your dashboard with cleaners; you have so many electronics happening on that dash that you don’t know what could happen if you get liquid behind any of those electronic buttons.
Get a dashboard cleaner and spray lightly onto a soft clean cloth and then wipe gently. This way you have control of the liquid.
Personal experience from running a car detail shop, we have found that most dirt on the dashboard tends to accumulate in the seams around the vents and the radio etc. The best way to deal with this is to take “Q-tips” or similar and with a tiny bit of cleaner on them right into these seams and you will be amazed at what you get out.
This is the same for the louvers in the heating vents. Lightly rub each vent with a Q-tip with a bit of cleaner on the end and then use the other end to polish up.
It is amazing just how dirty a car can look when dust and debris gets into these seams and the vents especially if you have a dark coloured dashboard.
Stuff the vacuum nozzle in there to get rid of crumbs from those snacks, and then take the cleaner to the cup holders and pockets etc. Coffee residue and soft drinks can leave a sticky residue and then dirt sticks to that.
From personal experience I have sometimes had to literally soak some parts of the cup holders in car cleaning liquid to lift a years’ worth of coffee stains.
Paying attention to some of the details is what makes the difference between a so-so and a very clean car.
You will be amazed at how good you will feel when you get into the car. If you only have time for a quick clean, then start with the vacuum and the middle console or cup holders. At least that way you are ahead of the game and your coffee cup doesn’t end up sticking anymore!
Car Organization Products
You can get pockets that attach to the backs of the front seats to house books, toys and more. This is a great way to keep kids things organized during car trips and it makes it easy to tidy up.
If the weather permits, you could keep some cleaner and cloths in the car ready for any of those spills that happen so they don’t get out of hand. If your kids are older you can get them to help out.
If you use car floor mats and they did their job and now look horrid, you can take them down and hose them, but this might be the time to treats yourself to a new set. Salt and dirt stains can really wear through floor mats fast, but this protects the carpet underneath.
Look at doing some car interior cleaning each season as a starting point and you will keep your car feeling great to almost live in.