Using a microfibre cloth on a car dashboard

Top tips for how to clean a cars interior

Is your car full of rubbish, dog hair, mud or crumbs? Whether your car is used for transporting kids, pets, the weekly carpool into the office, or just yourself, keeping your vehicle clean and tidy will keep you and your passengers riding happily.

Dirt, dust, grime etc. can eventually build up and degrade your interior materials. So, we recommend every month or two to give your chariot a proper clean.

Getting a full valet service can be expensive, so a lot of people will do it themselves instead. Luckily it’s a fairly straightforward thing to do and to make it even easier for you, we are going to list out our top tips.

Products you will need

  • Upholstery/leather cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • Multi-purpose cleaner
  • Compressed air
  • Dish soap
  • Disinfecting spray
  • Polytrol

Equipment / tools you will need

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Warm water
  • Bucket
  • Vacuum – hand held or regular (with attachments if available)
  • Bin bag / reusable bag
  • Sponge
  • Crevice cleaning tool

When it comes to how to clean a car interior, we recommend starting at the top and working your way down.

Step 1 – Air out and remove things that don’t belong

Open all the doors and boot. Although this seems like an odd first step, allowing your car access to fresh air for even just 10 minutes will relieve any stale smells and unpleasant odours.

Next, you will want to remove anything that doesn’t belong in the car and put it into a bin bag if it is rubbish/recycling or a reusable bag if it is to be kept.

Step 2 – Remove and clean the floor mats

Clean a cars interior by washing the mats with soapy water

Once all the excess stuff in the car has been removed, you can then remove your floor mats and begin the cleaning process. Now is the best time to clean them as they will then have time to dry whilst you work on the rest of the car – especially if your mats are carpet.

Begin by removing them from the footwells and giving them a good shake/bash. This will remove both larger debris as well as any smaller dusty particles. Next, you can either apply a carpet/upholstery cleaner or if your mats are safe for machine washing, you could do that instead. Be sure to follow all washing and cleaning instructions.

If you have non-carpeted mats such as ones made from rubber or silicone, you can simply use a hose/pressure washer to rinse them down. If there is anything sticky that won’t budge, just a quick wipe down with a sponge and warm soapy water will usually do the trick. Then just leave them to dry.

Any children’s car seats should now also be removed and any crumbs wiped down onto the floor. A crevice tool can be handy for getting into all those awkward areas.

Step 3 – Dusting and window cleaning

Clean a cars interior by using a microfibre cloth on a car dashboard

Using a microfibre cloth, wipe down the dashboard, the centre console and the steering wheel to get rid of the dust particles. You can use compressed air or the crevice tool to make sure you get all those bits out of the tiny awkward areas.

Exercise care when cleaning the buttons or infotainment screen as these are sensitive areas that can become damaged.

Next, use some multi-purpose cleaner to get rid of any sticky residue or other dirt on these surfaces.

Once the front has been done you can tackle the interior doors and windows. Take your window cleaning spray and wipe all the interior windows down. Be sure to use something like a microfibre cloth that will not leave streaks nor abrase the glass.

Once you have finished with the glass, wipe down and clean the whole of the interior door including the handle and pocket area.

Finally, once all the surfaces are nice and clean, you can sanitize them using a disinfectant spray.

Step 3.5 – Restore colour to your dashboard / steering wheel

This next step is more of an optional one. If the interior of your car has faded and turned grey, you could use a product such as Polytrol colour and shine restorer to bring it back to life!

Polytrol is a deeply penetrating oil which restores the original colour and appearance of dull or tarnished plastics, gelcoats, metals, and other surfaces.

It saturates deep into the surface, re-wetting the pigments to restore their lustre and colour which has been lost through exposure to sunlight, rain, and pollution.

Simple to apply using a cloth or soft brush, it’s ready to wipe off in as little as 10 minutes. Polytrol dries to a tough and long-lasting flexible finish which does not leave a film and therefore will not peel or flake.

Step 4 – Vacuum and clean the seats and floors

Now you have tackled the top area of the car it’s time to handle the middle and bottom. One of the easiest ways to clean a car interior is to use a vacuum.

Begin by working on the seats – if you have leather seats use a soft brush attachment to prevent causing damage.

If there are any stains or odours, use a fabric / leather cleaning product to remove them. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the seats are nice and clean you can move onto the floor. Using your vacuum cleaner, simply give the floors a really thorough cleaning. Use different attachments and nozzles where you can to get the best and most deep clean possible.

For extra freshness, you could use a deodorising spray or a granulated carpet deodoriser. This, coupled with an air freshener, will make your car smell better than new!

Tips on keeping your car clean

Now that your car is nice and clean, here are our top tips to help keep it that way for longer.

Avoid eating in your car as much as possible. Not only are there the crumbs to contend with, but you will usually have a wrapper that needs disposing of after. Try to keep the car a food free area if possible.

Take rubbish or anything that doesn’t belong in the car away with you. If you do end up eating something, be sure not to leave your rubbish in the car when you arrive at your destination. The same goes for any other item that doesn’t need to be in the car. Remember, a car is a fairly small space and it only takes 1 or 2 items for it to start looking cluttered and messy.

Clean off your shoes or muddy paws before getting in. If possible, maybe keep a brush in the boot of the car to help wipe away any dirt you would otherwise bring into the car. The same goes for your furry pals – perhaps keep a small microfibre towel in the boot so you can wipe their feet off before getting in.


So there you have it! We hope this post on top tips for how to clean a car interior was helpful. If you have any other advice or top tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

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Top tips for how to clean a cars interior - Pinterest

Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

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