Unless you’re fastidious about your car’s interior,
it’s usually the last thing on your cleaning
list. As the months roll by, grime, wrappers,
dust and junk can just pile up. Unfortunately,
most of us finally get around to the deep cleaning
when we tape the “For Sale” sign on the windshield.
So whether you’re selling your car or just
want to clean it up for spring, these tips from professional
detailers will give you the most return
for your energy. You’ll feel like your car is brand
Step 1: Slide seats forward and clean out the junk
surprised by what you find.
We found a lost cell phone,
enough pens and pencils to
equip a small office, and
enough change for several
vending machine lunches.
Vacuum the seats, remove
the mats and vacuum the
carpet. Use a brush attachment
for the dash and door
panels. Don’t forget to clean
out and vacuum those
handy door pockets
(another source of buried
Step 2: Deep-clean carpet and upholstery
Use a carpet
cleaning machine to get the deep
dirt that settles into the fibers of the carpet.
(Clean cloth seats this way as well.)
It sprays the carpet with a solution of
water and cleaner and then sucks the
dirt and grime into a reservoir. A
machine like this pays for itself after just
a few uses. You can also rent one from a
rental center or use a spray-on
cleaner and a scrub brush instead.
Step 3: Clean and condition leather or vinyl seats
After a couple
of years, you’ll notice that the color of
the leather seats no longer matches the rest
of the interior. It’s not enough just to condition
the leather. First spray on leather
cleaner and rub vigorously with a clean
terry cloth towel. To avoid rubbing the
grime back into the seats, keep flipping the cloth to expose a
fresh surface. Let the seats dry for an hour and then rub in a
leather conditioner like Lexol to keep the leather supple. It’s
available at discount stores and auto stores.
Step 4: Remember to clean nooks and crannies
Detailing means just that—finding and
dealing with all the trim lines and recesses
that a quick once-over cleaning job
misses. Wrap a cloth around an old, worn
screwdriver (without sharp edges) and
spray Simple Green or other all-purpose
cleaner on the cloth.
Move it gently along the
trim lines to pick up the
gunk. Keep refreshing
the surface of the cloth.
Go around all the buttons
and controls as well.
Follow up with a rejuvenator
like Armor All.
Step 5: Brush out the air vents
These louvers are a
real magnet for dust, and a vacuum with a brush attachment
just won’t get it all. Take an inexpensive paint brush and
give it a light shot of Endust or Pledge furniture polish. Work
the brush into the crevices to collect the dust. Wipe the brush
off with a rag and move on to the next one.
Step 6: Wash the windows, including the top edges
that line of grime on the tops of windows when
they’re partially rolled down? Most people overlook
this detail when giving their vehicle a quick
wash. A few minutes with Windex and a clean
rag is all it takes.
Step 7: Scrape off those annoying stickers
all of your national
and state park
stickers may call to mind great memories, they can be a visual
hazard as they accumulate. The high-quality stickers will pull
off if you can get under a corner and carefully pull them free
at a 90-degree angle. Others will leave a gummy residue and
require a bit more attention. Cover your dash with an old
towel and dab on Goo Gone. Then scrape and wipe it off.
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Step 8: Kill bad odors.
Whether your vehicle
smells like a Big Mac or cigarettes, one pump of
the Odor Gun will solve the problem.