It’s fair to say some car interiors often don’t get the attention they deserve. Sure, you might clean the outside every couple of weeks, but giving the inside a good once over is a different story.

Cleaning the inside of a car isn’t hard but it can be fiddly, with lots of nooks, crannies and crevices to tackle. Add to that the range of materials that need cleaning inside a car, and it’s easy to see why lots of people put off cleaning the interior as often as the exterior.

Neglect to clean your car’s interior, however, and you run the risk of stains, marks, odours and general wear and tear – all of which can impact how it looks and feels, and potentially affect its future value.

So, with this in mind, we’ve put together a guide on how to clean different materials inside your car, so you can stay on top of its overall maintenance and upkeep.

Carpets and Upholstery

Soft furnishings like carpets and upholstered seats can be the hardest materials to keep clean in your car. That’s because they’re the most susceptible to marks, stains and bad odours. Here, we’ll tell you how to take care of them.

What You’ll Need

  • A vacuum cleaner – great for tackling carpets and seats, a vacuum will help lift dirt and dust. Make sure you have a crevice tool to get in those hard-to-reach areas.
  • A foaming cleaner – there are lots of car upholstery cleaners out there, but foaming products work best. That’s because the foam penetrates deep into the fibres of the material, lifting stains and odours. Some products even have a brush-head lid, which is great for scrubbing away marks and spills.
  • Odour neutraliser – keep your seats and carpets smelling fresh with an odour neutralising spray. This is an absolute must if your four-legged friend is often a backseat passenger.
Cleaning car seats

How to Clean Car Fabric Car Seats and Carpets

  1. Start by removing any large rubbish items from your car; we’re all guilty of stockpiling water bottles or takeaway wrappers from time to time.
  2. Next, plug in your vacuum and get to work on the seats and carpets. Use the brush-head crevice tool to get in those tricky areas; a lifting motion can help remove bits from carpet pile.
  3. Apply a foaming upholstery cleaner to the seats in turn, giving them a good wipe down. When you’re done, do the same with the carpets – you’ll be amazed and what comes off!
  4. When you’ve wiped down the seats and carpet, vacuum again. This will help lift any remaining dirt and residue, and dry off the fabric.
  5. Spray the odour neutraliser liberally over the seats and carpet, before leaving it to dry.

Leather Seats and Trim

Lots of cars have leather seats or leather-lined trim, like steering wheels, gearstick knobs or armrests. Leather is a premium material that’s designed to be durable and easy to clean – but only if you take care of it regularly.

Below, we give you the tools and knowhow to keep your car’s leather surfaces looking and feeling great.

What You’ll Need

  • A vacuum cleaner – along with a soft brush-head crevice tool, so you don’t scratch the leather.
  • Leather cleaning spray/wipes/cream – because leather is a natural, porous material, you’ll need to use the right type of cleaner. Leather cleaning products come in different formats, including sprays, creams and disposable wipes. Choose the one that’s right for you.
  • Conditioning cream – again, leather is natural, so you’ll need to condition it to prevent cracking and drying. A conditioning cream will nourish the leather and ensure it gets the care it needs.
  • Soft microfibre cloths – for application.

How to Cleaner Leather Car Seats and Trim

  1. As with upholstery, you’ll want to begin by vacuuming any bits, dust and dirt that may be on your leather seats. Make sure you use a soft brush-head to prevent scratching.
  2. Next, use your chosen leather cleaner to give the seats and trim a good clean. This will help restore the leather’s natural shine and smell, whilst removing bacteria and odours. A circular motion works best to penetrate the material and ensure a proper clean.
  3. Now it’s time to apply the conditioning cream. Put a small amount on a soft, microfibre cloth and, using a circular motion, begin applying it to the seats. You should leave the product to work for a few minutes before giving it a gentle buff with another cloth; this will ensure a deep shine and maximum protection for the leather.

Matt and Gloss Plastic

Whether your car has soft-touch matt plastics or a high-gloss dash, these surfaces need regular maintenance to ensure they stay clean and fingerprint-free. There are different products for different types of plastic, so make sure you buy the right one for the best results.

What You’ll Need

  • Dashboard and plastic cleaner – whether you choose a trigger spray product or disposable wipes, there are lots of dashboard cleaners out there you can use to clean plastic surfaces. We’d recommend using the right product for both matt and gloss finishes.
  • An applicator cloth – if you opt for a spray product, you’ll need a soft microfibre cloth for easy application.

How to Clean a Dashboard and Plastic Surfaces

Cleaning the dashboard and other plastic surfaces in your car is fairly straightforward, so we won’t bore you with lots of steps here. However, here are a few tips that can help you get great results when cleaning plastic car surfaces:

  • Work in a circular motion to remove bacteria and ensure a deep clean. This will also help prevent smears and streaks on glossy surfaces.
  • Always apply spray cleaners to a cloth first, so that it doesn’t transfer onto other surfaces, such as upholstered seats or the windscreen.
  • Get yourself a thin implement, such as a chopstick, that you can use to push your cloth into hard-to-reach areas. This is a really handy trick for cleaning vents and fiddly button control panels.

There you have it – a complete guide on how to clean the inside of your car. For more car care tips and motoring advice, be sure to read the rest of the Brindley Garages blog. Or, if it’s time for a new car, visit the homepage to browse our latest makes and models.