Everyday use can leave your vehicle interior dirty, and it’s important to clean it regularly. If you don’t, grit and grime can grind into the upholstery, making it look old and potentially damaging it. Here’s how to keep everything looking good.
Empty the vehicle and vacuum the carpet
Clean the dash and door panels
Spray and wipe the windows
Use a microfibre towel for best results
Clean the mirror
Spray vinyl surfaces with interior protectant
Clean cloth seats with fabric cleaner
Clean leather upholstery with leather cleaner
Use a leather protectant
Use carpet cleaner if necessary
Spray with deodorizer
Take items out of the storage cubbies and door pockets. It’ll make the job easier and also keep them from getting sprayed with cleaning solutions. Vacuum the seats, taking extra care where the seatback and seat cushion meet. If the rear seats fold and tumble, push them ahead to clean under them. Take out the floor mats and vacuum the carpet. Don’t forget the cargo area or trunk as well.
Spray and wipe plastic and vinyl panels with cleaner, following the product instructions. Do a section at a time, and don’t let the product dry on the panel. Use leather cleaner if you have a genuine leather-covered dash, while any fabric door panels should be cleaned with upholstery cleaner. Clean the centre console and door pockets, but be careful not to spray cleaner into the lock and window buttons, or into any USB or charging ports.
Do one at a time, and do the windshield and rear window in two sections if necessary, to avoid the cleaner running off or drying on the glass. It may sound odd to do the windows after the dash and door panels, but if glass cleaner runs down onto a dirty panel, it leaves streaks that can show even after you clean the panel. When you’re done, wipe any glass cleaner overspray off the dash and door panels.
Microfibre cleans and dries without leaving streaks or lint. Use one for cleaning, and another for drying and polishing.
Spray the towel with glass cleaner, and use that to wipe off the mirror. Don’t spray the mirror directly, as the glass cleaner could get inside the mirror.
Give each panel a quick wipe to be sure you’ve removed all cleaner, and then spray with protectant and wipe off, following the product directions. A good-quality product doesn’t just leave a shine, but includes UV protectant to help prevent sun damage.
For very dirty seats or stains, you may have to clean the seats twice. This is better than using too much cleaner, which can soak in and take a long time to dry. Follow the product directions and scrub with a soft brush to lift dirt from the fabric.
If you’re using a cleaning product for the first time, try it on a small or hidden area before you do the whole seat, to be sure it doesn’t strip away any of the colour. Don’t use leather cleaner on suede or Alcantara.
In addition to giving it a shine, leather-specific protectants can help keep leather from cracking or fading. Don’t use a vinyl protectant. Leather is a natural product and needs a protectant that will let it “breathe.”
Follow the directions to get stains and dirt out of the carpet. Clean it twice if necessary, rather than soaking it with cleaner. If the carpet is a bit damp after cleaning, let it dry completely before putting the floor mats back down on it.
Spritz the carpets lightly to freshen the vehicle’s interior. Don’t overdo it, as you don’t want to get the carpet wet.