Car Interior Cleaning: How to Clean Your Car’s Interior

What you’ll need to clean your car’s interior

You probably have a weekly cleaning routine for your home. Heck, you probably even make sure to hit the car wash the minute the outside of your car starts looking worse for the wear. Unlike at home, your dirty shoes are almost always on in the car, and there’s a good chance you’ve been caught snacking during the rush to get to your next destination. All that use makes for a pretty grimy car interior, but most people don’t bother cleaning as often as they should. But when was the last time you actually cleaned your car interior? This is the definitive guide on how often you should be cleaning everything.

Now that everyone is concerned with COVID-19, how do you clean the inside of your car without damaging any surfaces? You’ll be relieved to know that, according to Consumer Reports, “many of the same household cleaners that kill coronaviruses on hard surfaces at home can also clean a car without damaging its interior.” This includes isopropyl alcohol, disinfecting wipes, and soap, and using microfiber cloths because the fabric won’t harm the surfaces of your car. These are the 4 products that kill coronavirus, according to Consumer Reports.

But what does cleaning your car look like? Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, recommends on Consumer Reports to clean surfaces that are touched frequently “including the steering wheel, door handles, shift lever, any buttons or touch screens, wiper and turn signal stalks, passenger and driver door armrests, grab handles, and seat adjusters.”

How often you should clean your car

To keep the inside of your car sparkling, you should be cleaning it at least once a month, Christian Newman, owner of C & J Automotive Detailing tells TODAY. And if the dog hair and granola bar crumbs start building up even sooner, you might want to clean the inside of your vehicle every other week.

Start with a vacuum—but not where you think

Don’t start by vacuuming the carpet when you decide to clean your car interior; you’ll just end up pushing dirt back on when you clean the seats and other areas, according to Family Handyman. Instead, start by attacking the dashboard, door panels, and console with your vacuum. While you’re at it, scan your vehicle for these things you should never leave in the car.

How to clean door jambs 

Now take a look at the doorjamb, the area where your car door connects to the body of the car. “Door jambs are one of the first parts of a car you see when you get in, so keep them clean,” Newman tells TODAY. By using a cotton cloth to rub mild polish into the area, you’ll not only make the area look nicer, but also add oils to keep it from getting too dry, according to Popular Mechanics. 

How to wipe down the vinyl 

To get dust and dirt off your dashboard and door insides, start by wiping the vinyl with a rag, suggests auto repair company Your Mechanic. Then spritz a microfiber cloth with vinyl cleaner and wipe down the surface, getting rid of the excess with a dry cloth. Just avoid the steering wheel, because vinyl cleaner can make it slippery and hard to hold on to. Don’t forget to hit the pockets in your door by de-cluttering and vacuuming. These are a few other things you should de-clutter ASAP.

How to wash your windows 

When you roll down your windows, you might notice a buildup of dirt toward the top—don’t forget to hit those edges when you wipe down your windows and mirrors, suggests Family Handyman. You can also try this cool trick for using club soda to clean a windshield and use these other tips to avoid window cleaning problems.

How to clean car seats 

Before washing seats, get the dirt off with a vacuum. Next, for cloth seats, work at a spray-on cleaner with a scrub brush, says Family Handyman. If your seats are leather or vinyl, use a lotion-based leather cleaner, which can work on either material, Newman tells TODAY.

How to clean the floors 

Finally, it’s time for the floors. Start by removing the mats and sliding your seats forward—junk tends to build up behind them. Go over the mats and carpet with a brush-free attachment, according to Family Handyman. Now bring that vacuum inside for these other genius uses for a vacuum cleaner.

What not to use to clean your car

Both Kelley Blue Book and Consumer Reports advise against using hydrogen peroxide and bleach. “Both chemicals can put a welcome end to the coronavirus, but they will also cause damage to the vinyl and plastics used in most modern vehicles today,” writes Kelley Blue Book on their site. “Under no circumstances should you use any ammonia-based cleaning products.” If you find yourself without any cleaning products, using soap and water will work fine.

In the end, always wash your hands

You should be washing your hands for 20 seconds at a time, which will help kill bacteria. Washing your hands is so important, in fact, that these are the 15 diseases you can prevent just by washing your hands.

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