Car interior care
Most drivers go to the car wash every few weeks, clean out the floor mats, and remove most of the dirt inside with the coin-operated vacuum. Done! ...but the car isn't really clean. Stains and dust can only be removed with a deep car interior cleaning. Above all after winter you should do a deep cleaning - like a spring cleaning for your car. For this you'll need a few utensils and some time, but the investment is worth it. The following areas of the car in particular should be cleaned:
- Clean the windows
- Dashboard and door panels
- Clean the trunk
|Ideally you have enough space in your home garage to clean, and a power outlet for a vacuum cleaner. First vacuum the interior and the trunk. As an alternative, you could use a coin-operated vacuum at a gas station or car wash, which you can usually use for several minutes for 50 cents. You can also beat your rugs and floormats against a solid object to get the dirt out. If that's not enough, they can be washed in the washing machine. While vacuuming, don't forget the crevices between the seat back and the seat surface - crumbs and food particles can collect here. After all, many of use use our cars not just for driving.
Basic information for interior cleaning
Whichever part of your car you're cleaning, you should avoid using harsh chemicals. Cleaners containing alcohol or chlorine can corrode finishes and fabric, leaving ugly discoloration behind. Instead, use gentle cleaners or special products from an auto parts retailer. Often warm water will suffice - perhaps with a bit of cleaner added - and moist or dry microfiber cloths. This gets the windows clean, and the microfiber cloth prevents streaks. And don't forget about the headlights.
If you don't feel confident, leave the cleaning to an expert, particularly if the car has leather seats. Many car washes offer not only exterior washing but also interior cleaning. This is particularly recommended if you smoke in your car - an ozone treatment can help against odor-causing bacteria, but is not always effective. Other odors can be eliminated by placing a bowl of vinegar and water in the car overnight.
Cleaning the windows is easier and less complicated than cleaning the seats. For this it's usually enough to wipe the windows with a microfiber cloth and an ordinary glass cleaner. First spray the windows with water. This rinses away particles like sand, which can leave abrasions on the window while cleaning. Remove insect stains with water and a special insect sponge.
After spraying with the glass cleaner, you'll wipe the window clean with a dry cloth (not with newspaper!) - this prevents streaks which can hinder visibility in low sun or blinding headlights. If your rear window has an embedded defroster, wipe only lengthwise.
It's a good idea to leave the side windows open a little so you can clean the top edges. When you finish the outsides, you can clean the insides. Cleaning the windshield is difficult since it's so flat; it's easiest from the passenger seat.
If you don't have time to thoroughly clean the windows, use your waiting time when filling your gas tank to at least clean the outsides. At the gas pump there is usually a bucket with (more or less clean) water and a window cleaning device. This has a sponge side which you use first; then wipe the window clean with the rubber squeegee side - wipe from the top down. You can wipe away the rest of the water with a paper towel.
Dashboard / Cockpit
Over time, dust will collect on the dashboard and other plastic interior parts. Not a pretty sight. Often warm water is enough to clean the cockpit. Be careful with cleaning fluids, since they can degrade plastic. For heavy dirt, add some(!) dish soap to the water. You can buy special cockpit sprays for matte and glossy surfaces. Be careful with the steering wheel: the cleaning agent can corrode the seam of the airbag compartment.
In any case, use a lint-free microfiber cloth, and be sure it's moist but not soaking. Rinse it out periodically. Be careful not to expose the switches and other electronic components in the center console to any moisture. Here it's better to use a dry cloth and a paintbrush or cotton swab for hard-to-reach places like the air vents. Along with the dashboard and vents, other plastic parts such as the glove compartment and ashtray can be cleaned the same way.
Cleaning the trunk and kickstrips
In many cars the trunk is particularly affected. This is where things are transported - which are sometimes dirty - and it's often the dog's favorite place while on a trip. So, this should be a part of your car cleaning regimen. If you don't have a trunk liner that can simply be emptied out, you can vacuum or brush the carpet. Now and then take a quick look into the spare tire compartment (if you have one) - this can collect quite a bit of dirt as well. Stubborn dirt can be removed with soapy water.
The kickstrips can also get quite dirty, from you getting in and out of your car. First try cleaning them with warm water and a microfiber cloth. If the dirt won't come out completely, add some detergent to the water and repeat.
Cleaning with a microfiber cloth
You'll get the best results from your interior cleaning by using a lint-free microfiber cloth. This is good for windows, plastic components, applying wax to the finish, or removing water spots. Whicever smooth surfaces have to be cleaned, you can reach for this product. It not only provides lint-free cleaning, but it also prevents streaks, which is very important for window cleaning. You can also use a microfiber cloth for cleaning the seat upholstery foam and for drying the treated seat surfaces. After cleaning with the microfiber cloth you should wash it in the washing machine. But you don't need fabric softener, as it negatively affects the cleaning properties of the cloth.
If you want a clean car, you've got a lot of work that can of course be left to a professional. To save money it helps to do the interior cleaning yourself. With the right tools and a little patience, the results will be obvious, and your next drive in a freshly cleaned car will be twice the fun.