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How to clean interior

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The interior of a car needs regular cleaning, the contaminants found here can be totally different from the outside, which requires different products and different ways of safely removing them.


Difference between interior and exterior

Simply put, the interior is the inside of the vehicle, the exterior is the outside. The trunk of the car is considered to be interior. Some people consider the engine bay as another part of the interior, seeing as its not the exterior. The most common description of the interior is the inside of the car. Wether this is the area with the seats and dashboard, or the boot such as the one found in a van. The interior is often filled with fabrics, leather, glass, plastic and sometimes wood.

Products used on the interior

Depending on the many different materials found in the interior, different product can be used to clean.

  • Fabric
    • APC for cleaning purposes
    • Fabric protectant
  • (synthetic) Leather
    • Leather cleaner to remove contaminants
    • Leather conditioner to feed the leather
    • Leather sealant to prevent it from getting dirty
    • Leather coloring/filler to fix discoloration and/or cracks
  • Glass
    • Clay or wire wool to remove stubborn dirt
    • Glass cleaner to remove oils, dirt and dust
  • Plastic
    • APC to remove stubborn dirt
    • Shampoo to maintain a clean surface
    • Dressing can be used to restore the looks (be careful with dashboards!)
  • Wood
    • Fine polish if lacquered and showing swirls (be careful, the lacquer will be very thin)
    • Oil to restore the lush look (consult a specialist if in doubt!)
    • Glass cleaner can be used to clean lacquered wood
    • APC and shampoo will be safe to use on lacquered wood

Contaminants found in the interior

The exterior of a vehicle will have certain contaminants it comes into contact with, the interior will be very different. The dirt that you will find inside the car will consist out of very different types of dirt.

  • Dust
  • Sand
  • Mud/beverages
  • Snow/water
  • Salt
  • Mold
  • Trash

Most of these types of dirt will require different techniques or products to remove. The most commonly used tools are listed below.

Often used tools for cleaning the interior

Certain tools won’t be much good on the interior, even though they are frequently used on the exterior. A

  • Wet/dry vacuum to remove loose and/or wet dirt or suck up moisture when APC is being used
  • Tornador to blow clean very dirty surfaces
  • MF towels to either dry certain surfaces or wipe clean other surfaces
  • Brush to get into those hard to reach places
  • Polishing machine which can be used with a brush attachment to really get to that stubborn dirt in fabric/carpets
  • Hair dryer to quickly dry parts that have been made wet
  • Cleaning putty to remove dirt from hard to reach places
  • Ozone generator to remove any dirty odors
  • Steam cleaner to clean without using to much moisture

Techniques that can help cleaning the interior

  • Removing the seats can give you easy access to many parts of the interior, it will also give you much more moving space
  • Be careful when cleaning the headlining, the glue between the panel and the fabric is very soft. Using to warm water or to much APC can dissolve the glue
  • Removing as much of the dry dirt will make it easier to remove the stains that need a cleaning liquid
  • Take out the floormats, and clean them somewhere were you have the room to move
  • Spray the air freshener on the floormats, if it will stain, the floormats are easier to replace then most other parts of the interior
  • Do not use solvents on plastic parts, they can either cause discoloration, surface damage or leave white marks. Some of these effects are irreversible
  • When cleaning, work from top to bottom
  • Spray the cleaning liquid on a MF towel, NOT on the surface itself. This way you prevent the liquid from getting into crevices you don’t want it to go and you don’t leave a mist that can get to places that are already cleaned
  • Be very careful with dressing on the dashboard, it can create a shiny surface that reflects sunlight, which might impact your vision while driving
  • The most common used order is: remove any objects from the interior (trash, floormats, seats (if needed)), vacuum the interior (use a brush to loosen up dust), use cleaning liquids, use a wet/dry vacuum if needed, clean the glass
  • When working with liquids, keep all doors open to create a well ventilated workspace
  • After cleaning floormats, you can move a brush one way, and then the other way to create lines
  • After cleaning, leave the doors open so the humidity inside the car from the cleaning liquids used can drop again
  • Take your own health in consideration, wear gloves and a breath mask if you think its needed
  • Brushes, cotton swaps, and foam brushes can help to get into small spaces like the vents

Keep the interior clean

After spending much time cleaning the interior, you want it looking good. Fabric protection can help to keep the fabrics looking good. Regular cleaning will obviously also help a lot. Avoid smoking, eating or drinking in the car. Some people even go to the extreme and take off their shoes before getting in the car. You can also buy cheap shoe-covers to avoid making the floormats dirty.

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