Secrets To Detailing Your Car’s Interior


Who doesn’t love a freshly detailed car? The downer is the price tag that comes with it. While professional detailing can be cost prohibitive, there is an easy, eco-friendly, and affordable alternative. Run your vehicle through an automated wash like Vol Magic Wash, and do the interior detailing yourself either in the vacuum area or at home. All you need is a little elbow grease and a few household items, and you’ll get your car looking and smelling like you just took it to the detailers. You’ll save money and sidestep all the harsh cleaning chemicals.

The Tools:

  1. Firm bristle brush
  2. Vacuum (the car wash vacuums are perfect)
  3. Microfiber cloth and/or sponge
  4. Compressed air
  5. Soft Toothbrush
  6. Baking Soda
  7. Corn Starch
  8. Vinegar
  9. Toothpaste
  10. Linseed oil
  11. Mineral oil
  12. Alcohol

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The Steps:

First, remove floor mats and vacuum them along with the upholstery, floors, dashboard, and trunk.

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Take the baking powder and sprinkle it on the mats and floors. Baking soda works wonders for deodorizing fabrics. The longer you leave it, the better. If you want to make your interior smell really clean, sprinkle dried herbs like lavender onto the fabrics along with the baking soda, then if you have time, leave it overnight and vacuum it the next day.

If you have grease stains on your car’s floor mats, sprinkle the stains with cornstarch. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes, and then vacuum it up. Grab the can of compressed air and use it to blast out all the dust and residue in the cracks and crevices in the dashboard area, doors, center console, and gear shift. If there’s any dried-on dirt from spills, use the toothbrush to gently brush it clean.

Use can also use the toothbrush to clean the air vent grilles. If you have managed to get everything clean and don’t need to follow-up with any cleaning solution, use the microfiber cloth to do a final cleaning of the hard surface areas. Microfiber has a way of pulling up all the bits of dust and lint, leaving surface areas super clean.

If you have dried-on dirt from spills or other mishaps, use the following mixture to clean the interior hard surfaces:

  • Interior Cleaner
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • A spray bottle
  • A Microfiber Cloth

Mix together equal parts of white vinegar and water, then spray it onto any vinyl, plastic or wood surfaces in your car that need cleaning. Allow it to soak in and wipe it dry with a clean rag. Remember that conditioning these same surfaces is important in order to protect them from sun exposure and becoming dry and brittle.

To condition the hard surfaces, get the mineral oil and put it in a spray bottle or bowl. Using a clean rag, apply a small amount onto the dashboard, doors, or any other plastic, wood or vinyl surfaces. Finish by wiping off the excess with another cleaning rag.

Warning: Do not use on the steering wheel, pedals or any other controls where slipperiness could pose a hazard. Also be careful not to get in on your windows.


Cleaning the Seats

This step is essential for a good detailing job, but it’s important to remember that different upholstery will require different cleaning methods. To clean the seats, first do a thorough vacuuming, making sure to get into the cracks and crevices.

Leather or vinyl interiors:

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After a thorough vacuuming, you can clean your leather or vinyl seats by mixing one part vinegar with one part linseed oil. Use a piece of cloth and rub the solution onto your seats. You’ll easily remove dirt and grime, and leave the leather/vinyl supple and shiny.

If you have mild stains on your leather/vinyl seats, you can use toothpaste to get them out. Remember to do a small test area first just to make sure the toothpaste won’t affect the dyes used in the material.

If the stain on your leather or vinyl seats won’t come out with toothpaste, then use a small piece of clean cloth and gently dab on a bit of alcohol. Again, do a test area first to make sure it won’t affect the color. Bear in mind that alcohol can affect the color of the dye, and the more you use, the more likely this is to happen. So it’s a good idea to do a test area first.

Cloth interiors:

First, vacuum the seats to get all the baking soda out of the cracks and crevices. If you have stains, mix equal parts vinegar and water and spray the mixture directly onto the stain. Let it set for a few minutes, and then blot it with a clean, wet cloth.

You can also use a natural detergent for stains. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day detergent is a great option. All you have to do is mix equal parts of detergent and water, apply to the stain, let it soak in for a few minutes and blot with a clean cloth.


Green Clean Your Windows

Believe it or not, you can make your own, eco-friendly, window cleaner that works even better than the commercial brands. All you have to do is mix the following ingredients in a spray bottle:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup alcohol

Spray this solution on the windows and glass surfaces and wipe it clean with a microfiber towel! You’ll be surprised by the crystal clean, streak-free windows you get as a result!

Then, to finish, do one final vacuum on the floor mats, floors, etc., and you’ll have a clean, green, sparkling interior that looks and smells as good if not better than what you’d get from a professional detailing service.

– Joanna Henning, Vol Magic Car Wash

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