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The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Car’s Interior

car interior cleaning tips

The saying goes that a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind — the same can be said about your car. There is plenty of emphasis on keeping your car’s exterior clean, but it’s just as important to tend to the inside of your car. One of the most important reasons is that a messy car can be harmful to your safety.

You’re walking through and tracking a number of harmful residues throughout the day. These include but aren’t limited to tar, bacteria, animal waste, and harmful chemicals. Being exposed to these residues in smaller doses is manageable. But the longer you hold off on cleaning your car’s interior, the more at-risk you’ll be. A clean car ensures that you and your passengers will be safe.

Reducing clutter and cleaning grime will also mitigate your risk of collision. If trash is piling up in your car, you may become distracted or not be able to properly see out your windows. If you’re distracted while driving your response time will suffer. Dirty windows also decrease your visibility. Avoid these safety issues altogether by keeping your car clean.

  cleaning car windshield  

At Sundance Car Wash we have everything you need to clean your car, both the exterior and interior. We have state-of-the-art vacuums with options to shampoo/condition or vacuum. We also have stocked vending machines with all cleaning products you need to make your car shine inside and out. Cleaning your car on-site at Sundance is easy and efficient!

What You’ll Need to Clean Your Car’s Interior

How often you clean your car’s interior depends on how much you drive. If you regularly see spills on your upholstery and trash collecting on the ground, you should clean after every trip. But if it’s typically just you, cleaning out your car once a month should suffice.

But no matter what cleaning schedule you find yourself on, you should always empty out your car before you clean it. Throw out any trash that’s been accumulating. Check your trunk, move your seats, and look in your glove compartment to make sure you don’t miss anything. If there are any items you need to keep in your car, you can replace them once you’re done cleaning.

Before you start cleaning, here’s a list of supplies you’ll need to get started:

  • Garbage bags
  • A vacuum cleaner with attachments
  • A foam brush or old toothbrush
  • Microfiber cleaning cloths
  • A bucket
  • A spray bottle
  • Warm water
  • Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
  • Glass cleaner
  • Mild liquid dish soap
  • Scrub brush
  • Squeegee (for pet owners)
  • Leather or vinyl conditioner
  car cleaning supplies  

It’s okay if you don’t have or use every item on this list. Just grab what you need to successfully clean out your car.

Want to make it even easier? At Sundance we offer everything you need to clean your car’s interior. Simply go to any locations to find all the tools and products you need. You can purchase all the cleaning supplies on-site making it easy to clean your car’s interior. We stock the best car cleaning products at the best price.

  cleaning car dashboard interior  

Recommended Cleaning Products

You need to be selective about the cleaning products you use on your car’s interior. The wrong products can be harmful to your upholstery or even the health of you and your passengers. But at the same time, you want to make sure to select an effective cleaner. All the products we sell  at Sundance are clean and safe to use, but if you decide to purchase a car interior cleaning solution off-site here are some things to consider before you purchase:

  • Type of interior — From plastic, to screens, to windows, your car’s interior is made up of a variety of different materials. One cleaning solution may not be appropriate for each surface. Always read the label before spraying a cleaner in your car.
  • Smell — A strongly-scented cleaning solution may linger in your car. Sensitive to certain odors? Read online reviews to check if the cleaning products you’re considering have a powerful smell.
  • Tools — The effectiveness of a cleaning solution may rely on the tool you use with it. For example, microfiber cloths are usually great for cleaning large surface areas. But if you need to scrub down a smaller, hard-to-reach area, you may need to consider a brush.
  cleaning car steering wheel  

With that in mind, Car and Driver tested the best interior cleaning solutions on the market. Here are some of their top recommendations:

  • Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner & Protectant — This solution works great on all surfaces, including glass and screens. When used on your windshield it will also help protect from harmful UV rays. But this cleaner has a strong scent, so it may not be for everyone. 
  • Griot’s Garage Interior Cleaner — This one is a strong and straight-forward cleaner. It leaves no scent or residue and it’s great to use on fabrics and carpets. The cleaner comes in a large bottle and will last you for a long time. But Griot’s can’t be used on screen or glass, meaning it won’t provide the UV protection of other interior cleaners.
  • Meguiar’s Quik Interior Detailer Cleaner — Meguiar’s is affordable and gets the job done. You can expect a decent clean with no streaks or residue left behind. But the easy price tag means you won’t get the strength of some of the other cleaners on this list.
  • Carfidant Ultimate Cleaner — This cleaner does it all. Carfidant is a powerful cleaner that can easily cut through the grime on your car’s interior and exterior. However, this cleaner’s scent is pretty strong and Carfidant does have a higher price tag, but the versatility of this cleaner might just make the price worth it.
  • Armor All Cleaning Wipes — These wipes are for all-purpose cleaning and are effective and easy to use on light grime. But if you’re working with a real mess, you may want to opt for a stronger cleaner.
  • Adam’s Polishes Total Interior Cleaner — Adam’s Polishes is a strong cleaner that protects from UV rays. As an added bonus, this cleaner actually has a pleasant smell. But keep in mind that Car and Driver’s test saw that this solution left a slight, uneven residue on surfaces.

Household Items for Cleaning Your Car

If you prefer to stick to solutions you’re familiar with, you can easily use one of your household items to clean your car’s interior. Here are a few that you can use.

  • White Vinegar — If you have any white vinegar in your home pantry, it acts as a great multi-purpose cleaner for your car. Mix three parts water and one-part white vinegar. Shake thoroughly and apply with a clean cloth. Use it sparingly on stubborn dirt, leftover residues from bumper stickers, and gum stuck in the carpet.
  • Coconut Oil — After you’ve cleaned your car’s upholstery, condition it with coconut oil. Work a small dab of it into the leather with a dry cloth. This will restore your upholstery’s shine, protect it from cracking, and leave a pleasant odor.
  • Cornstarch — This food ingredient actually works great as a multi-purpose car cleaner. Mix about 1/2 cup of cornstarch with a liter of water. Clean the inside of your windows with this mixture and dry it with a newspaper. If you also want to clean your car’s exterior, use cornstarch to remove excess car polish or wax.
  • Rubbing alcohol — Got stains inside your car? Rubbing alcohol can help get them out. Dab the stain with a little rubbing alcohol to clean it off. If you need to clean a hard surface, you can use a solution of rubbing alcohol and water.
  vacuum car interior  

How to Clean the Interior of Your Car

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary supplies and removed litter or clutter from inside your car, you can start the cleaning process. Here’s a step-by-step process to follow:

  1. Remove and clean floor mats and car seats — Start off the cleaning process with the foundation of your car. Remove your floor mats and shake them out. You may want to vacuum them if they’re really dirty. We offer mat clips to make cleaning your mats easier. Be sure to clean any stubborn carpet stains or spots on rubber mats. Really dirty mats? Pull into one of our hand-wash bays and spray down your mats to remove any grime. Repeat this process with any kids’ car seats to make them shine.
  2. Wipe down the inside of your windows — While you might regularly clean your exterior windows, don’t overlook the insides. First brush away any visible dirt, then spray the inside of each window with a glass clear. Wipe away traces of the solution with a clean microfiber cloth.
  3. Dust the front panel, dashboard and console — Do a general wipe-down of this area with a microfiber cloth or vacuum to remove dirt and grime. If you find dirt in hard-to-reach areas, leverage a can of compressed air to remove it. Finish this part of the process off by sanitizing everything with disinfectant wipes. You can spray a little air freshener in this area as a nice final touch or purchase and hang an air freshener.
  4. Clean out cup holders —  This is one of the trickiest areas within your car’s interior to clean. Because of that, your cup holders may begin to harbor bacteria. Get ahead of that by removing them, soaking them in soapy water, rinsing clean, and then wipe dry. No soap and water? Purchase one of our antibacterial cleaning wipes and thoroughly wipe them down.
  5. Clean your seats — If you have leather or cloth seats use one of our on-site vacuums to thoroughly clean them. For vinyl upholstery seats, you can simply spray them down with an all-purpose cleaner. Are your seats really dirty? If you have cloth seats, you’ll need to use an upholstery cleaning solution. Spray it directly onto the seat and work it into the fabric with a cloth or brush. Better yet, select the shampoo and spot remover option at our vacuums to deep clean your seats.
  6. Do a thorough pass on the carpet — Use our vacuums to thoroughly clean your car. We offer both a 2-motor vacuum or a Turbo vacuum option making cleaning easy and quick. Make sure to get your seat tracks and pockets. If needed, use your upholstery cleaner to tackle stubborn stains.
  7. Wipe down all other touch points — Since your steering wheel and door handles are highly-touched areas that harbor plenty of germs and bacteria, make sure to clean them with a disinfectant spray. If you have a leather-covered steering wheel, use a disinfecting wipe instead.
  8. Clean out the trunk — This is an easy space to overlook, but it needs to be cleaned too. Empty it out and vacuum the floor. You can also use your upholstery cleaner here for tough stains.

How to Continue to Keep Your Car’s Interior Clean

The longer you go in between car cleanings, the dirtier your car will become. A dirtier car makes for more unpleasant drives. Here are some tricks you can follow to keep the inside of your car feeling fresh:

  • Avoid eating in your car when you can
  • Wipe down pets’ paws before placing them in your car
  • Place a trash bin in your car to avoid litter piling up
  • Clean out your cupholders after any spills
  • Make use of car organizers to mitigate clutter
  • Clean your floor mats whenever you notice that you track anything on the floor
  • Utilize seat covers to avoid spills
  • Take any unnecessary items out of your car

If you want to go the extra mile, you can even work to keep your car smelling fresh. Try investing in air fresheners or activated charcoal bags to deodorize your car. Just make sure to replace them every few weeks. At Sundance, we have an assortment of air fresheners to choose from in our vending machines. Purchase your favorite scent and enjoy that clean car smell. Finally, make sure to roll down your windows when you can to ventilate any trapped odors.

TL;DR — Car Care Professionals, like Sundance, Help Keep Your Car Cleaner

Keeping your car’s interior isn’t difficult — it just takes a little time and dedication. First, you’ll need to create an arsenal of tools that can be used for thorough cleaning. Then, take stock of all the cleaning products you’ll need to successfully get the job done. Finally, make sure to follow a logical, step-by-step process to make sure you get your car as clean as possible.

But if you don’t have the time to get the supplies and do a thorough clean on your own, that’s okay! The experts at Sundance Car Wash can help! We may be known for our exterior wash options at each location, but we also provide top-notch interior cleaning options as well. We offer a wide range of safe and effective detailing products as well as state-of-the-art vacuums, carpet shampoo and fragrance machines. We offer it all at Sundance to make cleaning your car easy and fun!

Take a look at our website to find a location near you.


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