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Top 10 Cleaning Tips for the Inside of Your Car

If you drive a lot for work or have kids and pets, you know how hard it can be to keep the inside of your car clean. Here are 10 cleaning tips and tricks to make your car's interior sparkle again.

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cleaning tips dirty messy car floorPhoto: Courtesy of Anita's Antics

Clear Trash

Before you pull out the vacuum and cleaning supplies, get in and look around. There will likely be trash on the floor, under the seats and in the seat cracks. Toss out any wrappers, bottles, toys and other objects that your vacuum can’t handle.

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cleaning car mat rugFusionstudio/Shutterstock

Tackle Floor Mats

Pull the floor mats out of the vehicle and shake them out as much as possible. This will make vacuuming much easier. Scrub them with soap and hot water if necessary and allow them to air dry completely before reinstalling them.

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vacuum carDelpixel/Shutterstock

Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum


Vacuum both front and back seats, the floor and, if necessary, the trunk. Vacuum every area of the vehicle where you can get the nozzle, including under the pedals and along the side door panels.

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cleaning car interior with a rag steering wheelPATIWIT HONGSANG/Shutterstock

Grab a Rag


Now that the car is vacuumed, grab a rag or some cleaning wipes to wipe up all that dirt, sticky stuff and dust. You can also spray a small amount of car-specific cleaner over the console, steering wheel and the area between the seats. These products restore that new-car look.

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clean cup holders in carPakpoom Phummee/Shutterstock

Clean Cup Holders


Cup holders can harbor grime, spilled coffee and dead hair and skin cells (yuck). Try using a cotton swab dipped in a little cleaning solution to get to those difficult areas. In some vehicles, the entire cup holder is removable for easier cleaning. Find out why you should think twice about using cotton swabs on your ears.

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clean car windowsotomobil/Shutterstock

Wipe Windows


Spray a window cleaner solution on windows and wipe clean with a paper towel or microfiber cloth. You can also mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/2 rubbing alcohol and dilute with 1 cup of water for an effective homemade window cleaner. Learn how you can make more homemade cleaners.

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car seat stainsNatthakit/Shutterstock

Attack Stains


If there are stains on the seats or on the carpet, try using equal parts water and vinegar and soak the area for 15 minutes. Then wipe clean with a wet cloth. If the stain persists, try a product like Spot Shot or Resolve. Spot-test in an inconspicuous area to make sure the upholstery fabric is colorfast.

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dog in car clean pet fur hairAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Remove Pet Fur


If you have a dog, you know the pain of dealing with pet fur. If the vacuum doesn’t remove all the fur, try using a balloon. Just blow up the balloon and rub it on the seats to create static electricity and remove the rest of the pet fur.

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shutterstock_2477262 paint stir sticks samplesChad McDermott/Shutterstock

Get Into Crevices


Grab a paint stirrer or two next time at you’re at the hardware store. Wrap an end with a microfiber cloth and use the stick to get into those hard-to-reach areas between the seats and around the center console.

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car freshener Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Freshen Up


Create a home-made car freshener with 1 cup of baking soda and 5 drops of essential oil in your favorite scent. Place both the soda and oil in a sealable plastic bag or glass jar for 24 hours. Then shake it up, sprinkle on the car’s floor and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then vacuum it up and your car will smell fresh and clean.