Cleaning your car interior | Autoblog Details | Complete Detail ep 3

The interior of your vehicle has by far the most variation of materials so the process of cleaning it is more challenging. Creating a system or a workflow is critical to being efficient or in other words developing a procedure to avoid missing spots or working over yourself wasting time and energy. Find out how to become an interior detailing machine on this episode of Autoblog Details.

Watch all of our Autoblog Details videos for more tips on car cleaning and maintenance by professional detailer Larry Kosilla. While you're at it, check out Larry's other video series on how to diagnose, fix, and modify cars, Autoblog Wrenched!

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[00:00:00] The interior of your vehicle has, by far the most variation of materials. So the process of cleaning it is more challenging. Creating a system, or a workflow, is critical to being efficient, or in other words, developing a procedure to avoid missing spots, or working over yourself wasting time and energy. Find out how to become an interior detailing machine on this episode of auto blog details. Since we already removed all the big items, random garbage and floor mats in episode one, we can quickly move into the steps.

[00:00:30] Vacuuming as your first step sounds counterintuitive because you're gonna be working on the inside of the car and potentially getting the floor dirty again. But here's why it makes sense before shampooing. If there are large bits of dirt and debris floating around the carpet, and then you go to shampoo, you'll either grind the dirt deeper into the carpet, or, cause the hot water extractor to suck up excessive chunk and clog these rather sensitive machines. Keep in mind that this is a very quick, preliminary vacuum, and you'll wet vac again as the very last step.

[00:01:00] So, work from the drivers' side front, to the drivers' side rear, and all the way around the car quickly. If you have access to compressed air, use this in conjunction with your vacuum to dislodge trapped dirt in areas you can't reach with your nozzle. I prefer nozzles that are six to eight inches long, and narrow enough to get into the tight areas while still maintaining their suction. Likewise, be sure to push the seat all the way to the back while working in the front, and all the way to the front while working in the back.

[00:01:30] Next, shampoo the carpets. Professionals use a machine called the hot water extractor, which combines hot water, low foaming carpet shampoo, and wet vacuum capabilities all in one tool. However, similar results can be achieved with very warm to hot water, and a few squirts of dish soap in a bucket. For those taking notes, it's roughly four ounces for every gallon of water. For extra power, add one to two ounces of white vinegar for each gallon.

[00:02:00] However, if the stain persists, be sure to use a designated carpet cleaner. Next, use a medium stiff brush to agitate the fibers and release the dirt. Then, blot the area to pick up the dirt and dry the carpet. Cloth tends to be more delicate than carpet, so avoid scrubbing vigorously. Or, instead, use a scrub pad. Also try to avoid over-soaking the foam under the cloth or carpet, as it'll take a long time to dry, and no one likes sitting on a wet seat, so use the minimum amount of water necessary to clean the dirt.

[00:02:30] We clean the carpet and the cloth first to allow the maximum amount of dry time possible. Be sure to gently scrub the seats if they're cloth as well. Then, take a peak at the headliner for stains and repeat the process. But, instead use a damp cloth and extremely light pressure if there happens to be a stain. If there isn't a stain on the headliner, then just leave it alone. Now, with all the cloth and fibers drying, we focus our attention on the plastic and leather.

[00:03:00] For these areas, we use specific plastic, leather, and vinyl cleaners. All purpose cleaners tend to be too harsh and can leave behind a film or residue. Lightly spray the door and wipe with a microfiber cloth, or use an interior brush or an interior pad if the stain persists. Do not spray the interior cleaner on the dashboard to avoid liquid leaking behind the gauge cluster, or into the radio buttons. Instead, spray directly into the towel, or the head of the brush.

[00:03:30] Next, focus on the steering wheel, which is typically the area with the most bacteria or germs. Use the interior brush to agitate or poke, especially if you have leather stitching. Afterwards, wipe the radio and HVAC system gently with a microfiber cloth, or a brush in the tight areas. Moving downwards, focus on the gear shifter and cup holder, as they tend to be pretty gross. So spend enough time cleaning these sticky areas. If your seat happens to be leather, work from the top down.

[00:04:00] First, lean the seat back to prevent the cleaner from running, and to expose the seat bottom and the seat back junction. Lots of evil things are found between the seats, so beware. Wipe with a towel, or scrub if necessary. Now, repeat all the same steps for the drivers' side rear, the trunk, the passenger side rear, and the passenger side front if you have four doors. Also, keep in mind that because this demo car has cloth seats, we've already shampooed them in the previous steps.

[00:04:30] However, if it happened to have leather seats, we would have continued the same cycle without skipping them. At this point, I like to quickly vacuum a second time, to pick up any dirt that may have been dislodged during the cleaning, and to suck up and wick any water from the carpet to encourage drying. Next, if your car has leather seats and you want to apply leather conditioner, this would be the time. Massage the conditioner in with a foam applicator, and then buff to a matte finish with a microfiber towel.

[00:05:00] If your seats are perforated, or have little holes in them, use a microfiber towel as your applicator, instead of the foam. Rub the conditioner into the towel first, then wipe the perforations. This will help minimize the holes from clogging up with conditioner. However, if you do get the conditioner stuck in the holes, then use a micro swab to unclog the perforations. The steps illustrated in this video are the most efficient and safest way to clean your interior. But the exact work flow is really up to you. Now that the interior is dialed in, we're gonna let it dry and move on to the wheels and paint in the next episode.

[00:05:30] If you found this video helpful, please share and keep up with all the latest detail videos, by liking or subscribing to the auto blog page. I'm Larry Kosilla from, we'll see you in the next video.

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