Keeping it Clean- Car InteriorsSeptember 24, 2010 | in Defensive Driving Tips
While cleaning the inside of your car may not do as much to prolong its driving life as an outside cleaning does, it’s still an important and necessary task! Nasty smells, unpleasant stains, and layers of grime will accumulate as you procrastinate cleaning—resulting in a car that’s unpleasant to be in and will be increasingly difficult to re-sell, if you ever plan to do so. Plus, few things are more embarrassing than fetching a friend or colleague and seeing the look of disgust on his or her face as you frantically try to brush the food wrappers, empty bottles, dog hair, and dust off your passenger’s seat.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say; don’t let trash and other junk accumulate in your car. Car interiors seem to be magnets for all kinds of unwanted stuff, from old receipts and soda cans to collections of take-out napkins. To avoid this, take all trash out of the car each time you pull into your driveway. Picking up a soda bottle here or there will keep your car from becoming a garbage can on wheels. Next, don’t keep more items in the car than you really need. For example, keep a single tissue box instead of dozens of napkins crammed into nooks and crannies. Periodically check under the seats for any items that have mysteriously disappeared. It may be helpful to keep a plastic trash bag in the car, to be emptied every day or two.
Of course, dust and dirt accumulate over time no matter what, especially if you travel with children or pets. Depending on how heavily trafficked your car is, you’ll need to clean the inside on a regular schedule. Before you begin cleaning, line up the following items:
- A vacuum and its assorted attachments (round brush, narrow brush, etc.)
- A garbage bag for any trash.
- Window cleaner and paper towels
- A general purpose spray cleaner
- Damp cloth
- Upholstery foam cleaner
- A stiff brush
- A small, soft paint brush
Now, you’re ready to begin!
First, start by cleaning the windows inside and out. Make sure to roll down the windows slightly in order to get to the grime that accumulates at the top of the window. After wiping the window down with window cleaner and your damp cloth, polish the window with dry paper towels to prevent streaks.
Next, remove all of the mats from the car. First, shake the mats out and/or beat them against a hard surface to remove loose grime and dirt. Next, scrub them with the brush to loosen ingrained dirt; then, beat them again. If they’re really dirty, you can take them to a local gas station and rinse them off with their pressure washer. Take them home and hang them out to dry. However, don’t put them in your washing machine, as this could damage the machine.
After you’ve washed the mats (arguably the hardest part of this whole procedure), proceed to vacuuming. Start with the driver’s seat. Push the seat all the way back and vacuum the seat, under the pedals, etc. You may want to use different attachments to reach some of the harder-to-get-to areas. Use the brush to scrub the upholstery before vacuuming again. Note: if you have leather seats, ignore this process and use a specially formulated leather cleaner instead. Use the foam upholstery cleaner according to the directions on the bottle in order to get out any really tough stains. After thoroughly vacuuming the driver’s seat, proceed counter-clockwise around the car, pushing seats forward or back as needed.
If your car is really dirty, you may want to take it to a cleaning service to have the whole interior steam cleaned. While you can rent a steam-cleaning machine fairly cheaply, it’s quite easy to damage your car with this if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.
With the vacuuming behind you, you’re almost done! Now, use your damp cloth to wipe down the dashboard and other plastic fixtures. Spray your all-purpose cleaner directly onto the cloth; you don’t want to accidentally damage electrical equipment in your car by spraying too much cleaner onto your dashboard. If you’re a real stickler, you can use a small paintbrush to clean dust out of crevices and air vents.
See, not too bad! The whole process shouldn’t take too long, depending on how bad things have gotten. Cleaning regularly will, in the long run, be a whole lot easier than waiting too long and letting a lot of dirt accumulate.
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