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A Guide To Interior Car Detailing Like a Pro

CEO Khai Intela
More and more people are opting for professional car wash services to keep their vehicles clean. According to the International Carwash Association, the number of drivers who take their vehicles to professional car washes has...

More and more people are opting for professional car wash services to keep their vehicles clean. According to the International Carwash Association, the number of drivers who take their vehicles to professional car washes has increased from around 48% in 1994 to 77% in 2019. However, these services can be quite expensive, with a full professional interior car detailing costing anywhere from $75 to $150 or more, depending on your location and the level of detail required.

But fear not! With a little knowledge and a few smart tips, you can achieve a car detailing pro's level of cleanliness right in the comfort of your own home. Not only will this save you money, but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment. So, let's dive into the world of interior car detailing and discover the secrets to achieving a pristine car interior.

Step 1: Stock Your Cleaning Caddy

The first step towards achieving a professional-level clean is to gather the right tools and products for the job. While household cleaners might seem like a convenient option, they can be harmful to your car's paint, interior, and plastic surfaces. Invest in car care cleaners specifically formulated for automotive applications. Additionally, gather some cotton swabs, fluffy makeup brushes, microfiber cloths, a scrubbing brush, and a vacuum cleaner with brush and crevice attachments. If you prefer an all-in-one cleaning product set, consider the 16-Piece Arsenal Builder Car Wash Kit recommended by John Peterson, editor of Safe Drive Gear and an auto retailer senior sales manager.

Step 2: Clear Out the Car

To achieve a thorough clean, remove any floor mats, large items such as car seats, bags, and anything else that takes up considerable space in your car. Take this opportunity to clear out any trash as well. To make this process easier while you're on the road, keep a small trash bag handy. This way, you can easily dispose of the bag and replace it with a new one as often as needed.

Step 3: Make a Plan for Interior Car Detailing

Car interiors have many hidden nooks, crannies, and crevices that often go unnoticed during regular cleaning. Before you start, take a moment to assess your car's interior and identify the areas that require special attention. Commonly overlooked spaces include beneath the seats, floor mats, back sides of the sun visors, air vents, cup holders, storage compartments, and the cargo and trunk areas. Make sure to focus on these areas and clean them thoroughly.

Step 4: Clean Surfaces and Vacuum

Vacuuming Car Seat Image: Vacuuming Car Seat

Now it's time to start cleaning! Begin by vacuuming the car's interior and wiping down surfaces. Take your time and be meticulous in your cleaning, ensuring you reach every nook and cranny. Start from the top and work your way down, but don't hesitate to go back over an area if needed. Cars are tight quarters, and dirt can easily fly around, so it's important to be thorough.

Here are some car detailing tips and tricks to keep in mind during this step:

  • Pre-vacuum: Use a soft, natural bristle brush to loosen dirt from all interior surfaces before vacuuming.
  • Don't forget the headliner: Wrap a microfiber towel around a stiff nylon brush and lightly agitate the headliner using an upholstery cleaner.
  • Move seats: Adjust the front seats to their maximum forward and backward positions to clean underneath. For reclining seats, move them as far as they'll go in both directions to reach hidden dirt.
  • Use your tools: Make use of the crevice attachment on your vacuum cleaner to clean tight corners. Cotton swabs and makeup brushes are helpful for cleaning air vents and around buttons.
  • Choose wisely: Use cleaning products specifically designed for the materials in your car's interior. If necessary, apply a conditioner or protectant to vinyl or leather surfaces.
  • Check the spare: While cleaning the trunk, make sure your spare tire is in good condition and that all tire-changing tools are accounted for.
  • Spray carefully: When applying interior cleaning solutions, spray them on your towel or detailing brush to avoid streaks and potential damage to electronics.

Step 5: Wash the Windows

Once you've finished cleaning the interior, it's time to move on to the windows. Use specialty window wipes for this step. While you're focused on the car's interior, you might notice exterior grime from inside your newly detailed car. Take the opportunity to clean the outside of the windows as well.

Step 6: Clean Floor Mats

Shake out any loose dirt from your floor mats and then vacuum them. Scrub the mats with hot water and an automotive carpet cleaner, following the manufacturer's instructions. Allow the mats to dry completely before putting them back in place.

Step 7: Reset

After completing the interior car detailing process, put the fully dried floor mats back in their respective positions. Return any items you want to keep in your car to their rightful spots, and adjust your seats and mirrors as necessary. Now you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and drive in your freshly cleaned car.

By following these steps and implementing the tips and tricks shared by the pros, you can achieve a professional-level interior car detailing at home. Not only will your car be spotless, but you'll also experience a sense of satisfaction in knowing that you accomplished it yourself. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your cleaning supplies, and get ready to transform your car's interior into a pristine haven.