What does the inside of your car look like? If you’re like many of us, there’s a layer of dust on the dash, forgotten french fries and fast-food bags on the floor, a stain or two on the seats, and some sticky splotches of who-knows-what inside the cup holders. The average American spends almost 900 hours each year in their car, and when it comes to those cars’ cleanliness, it shows!
There’s nothing quite so nice as an auto that’s spic and span. That’s where detailing comes in! Today we’re focusing on interior car detailing, and the elements that are essential to making your ride shine!
First, What Is Detailing?
We’d better start with a definition because plenty of people are a bit confused about what detailing is. Some folks think of detailing as only involving the exterior of the vehicle, while others associate with a clean interior when it’s both. To detail a car means to thoroughly clean and recondition it inside and out, and also to protect it against the elements — or the ravages of your children and carpool members!
Exterior detailing usually refers to washing, waxing, cleaning the windows, sprucing up the tires, and maybe fixing scratches or chips in the paint. Unless you’re a diehard car buff who loves to spend hours each weekend tending to your wheels, this is a job that’s best left to the professionals.
What Does Interior Car Detailing Involve?
Detailing the inside of a car is necessary if you plan to sell it — no one wants to buy a vehicle that has a lot of debris, dirt, and dust marring its interior. It’s also a good idea if you are trying to impress your riders, whether you’re on a hot date or driving your boss to a conference. Perhaps the most important reason of all for car detailing is that it helps your car look good as new, and gives you an emotional boost every time you drive.
Without further ado, let’s look at the 10 essential steps!
Cleaning It Out
The very first step is to remove everything from the car’s interior. That means the trash, those library books you’ve been forgetting to return, your extra shopping bags, and even items like your aux cord and dashboard Buddha bobblehead. Don’t forget the floormats.
As gross as it may seem, pick up every last item. That includes the coins, plastic straws, gum wrappers, partially eaten crackers, pens, receipts, and other junk on the floor. Slide the seats forward and back to make sure you’ve gotten everything out from under them.
Tackle the Dashboard
A cloth or paper towel with some all-purpose cleaner will make quick work of cleaning the dashboard. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies of the front console. There can be plenty of spots where dust and dirt will hide, so clean methodically.
One trick that works for cleaning any space is to begin at the upper left corner, working your way across and down. This is especially helpful when it comes to cleaning your car’s interior since it’s likely that the driver’s side is going to be in worse shape than the remainder.
Don’t Forget the Vents
A variety of small, soft brushes will come in handy for cleaning the slats of the vents. (Remember, this is detailing.) Use them, as well, for tiny crevices around the gear shift, coin holder or other console storage areas, cup holders, and so on.
Microfiber cleaning tools are a good choice for trapping tiny particles, also.
Take Care of the Glass
Regular household glass cleaner and a soft cloth or paper towel will work fine for your auto glass. There are also specially shaped tools that get into the corners of the windshield easily if you need a little extra reach. Be sure to clean the very top of each window, where a line of grime sometimes hides.
It is a good idea to spray the cleaner on the rag, instead of directly on the surfaces. This gives you more control over where the product goes and is neater.
Give the Seats Some TLC
The method for cleaning the seats depends on their material. Vinyl seats are a snap to clean. You can usually use an all-purpose or window cleaner on them.
Leather seats require a special leather cleaner to remove ground-in dirt and a leather conditioner to keep them supple. Some companies make an all-in-one product to save time and effort.
You can generally vacuum cloth seats, but you might need stain remover. Once you have the cloth seats cleaned, invest in seat covers to keep them that way.
Do the Door Panels
Most door panels are fabric or the same vinyl material used on the console or dashboard. Treat them as you would those parts of the car, with the same type of product. Make sure to vacuum out any storage spaces in the doors themselves.
Next, make a pass through the car with a vacuum. You can use a cordless handheld, or take your car to a self-serve car wash with pay-by-the-minute vacuums.
Be thorough. Suck up the dirt, dead leaves, stray crumbs, and other debris on the floor. Get underneath each seat, too.
Lastly, vacuum the floor mats themselves. These may need an extra scrub with some carpet cleaner — or if they’re grungy, you may opt for all new ones.