Car Interior Cleaning Tips to Refresh Your Ride

You probably hit up the car wash on a regular basis, but when's the last time you gave your car interior a thorough cleaning? Here are step-by-step instructions for an interior so clean, it'll look like you just drove it off the lot.

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. But when was the last time you actually cleaned your car interior?

Between the commute to work, soccer practice, and PTA meetings, you probably spend hours a day in your car. 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.

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. In other words, there’s a good chance you need to clean yours more. Luckily, we’ve got the steps you need to get the job done:

1. Start with a vacuum—but not where you think

Don’t start by vacuuming the carpet when cleaning your car interior; you’ll just end up pushing dirt back on when you clean the seats and other areas. 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.

2. Open the door

Now take a look at the door jamb, 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 to dry, according to Popular Mechanics. (Psst—here’s why you should always open your car door with your right hand.)

3. 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 microfibre 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. Can you guess where the dirtiest part of your car is?

4. 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 won’t believe what drivers confessed when we asked them how clean their cars were!)

5. Scrub those 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. If your seats are leather or vinyl, use a lotion-based leather cleaner, which can work on either material, Newman tells TODAY. Find out more places you’re not vacuuming—but should be!

6. Hit the floor

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, and use these tips to remove salt stains as required.

Check out more car cleaning tricks pro washers won’t tell you.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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