• Interior Detailing Basics: Making Your Car Interior Sparkle

    Proper interior detailing is not as readily obvious to observers as an exterior detail, but is just as important. It can be embarrassing if someone walks up and admires the nice clean wheels, the shiny paint and the brightly reflective chrome and then looks in the window to see a dusty, faded dashboard and dirty, sticky carpet. In order to do a proper interior detailing, you’re going to need specific cleaners, protectants and tools to use these products.

    The Products

    Having the right products for cleaning and protecting the interior of your car is the first step in proper interior detailing. You’ll need something similar to Armor All for cleaning the plastic or hard vinyl portions of your dashboard. You’ll need a high-quality leather cleaner if you have leather seats or inserts. For wood grains and real wood inserts, a good quality cleaner and polish will be required. To keep your carpets and seats looking like new, you’re also going to need a carpet and upholstery cleaner. You’re also going to need a window cleaner, such as ammonia, a commercial window cleaner such as Windex, or even distilled vinegar. If you have pets or smoke, something like Febreze will keep your car’s interior smelling great. There are also a number of products available at auto parts stores that will give your car “the new car smell” again, if that’s what you like. If you smoke or have pets, one trick to keep those odors under control is to place a fabric sachet of baking soda under both front seats and the dashboard, near the ashtray. Both Armor All and Meguiar’s carry a full line of interior detailing products that are highly respected in the professional detailing industry. Both companies even carry an auto glass window cleaning product that is certified safe to use on tinted windows.

    Interior Detailing Tools

    For the most part, you’re going to mostly need some towels to do all the wiping and cleaning during your interior detail. For washing the windows, newsprint is actually a better medium than paper or cloth towels because it is much easier to leave a streak-free clean with newspaper. Unless you have bad stains, you’ll just need a good (preferably shop style for safety) vacuum to clean the seats and carpets. If you have bad stains, you may need to rent a shampoo machine or steam cleaner.

    The Process

    Interior vacuuming should always be the first step in the interior detail process. If the carpet or upholstery is extremely dirty or has stains, use one of the carpet and upholstery cleaning products before vacuuming the upholstery. Once the seats and carpet has been cleaned, clean the dash with your product of choice. Then clean the windows. If you smoke, empty and thoroughly clean the ashtray. If you plan on deodorizing or scenting the interior, you will do that once you have the interior completely clean and dry. If you have floor mats, and they required wet cleaning, hang them outside somewhere to allow them to dry while you’re cleaning and detailing the outside of the car.

    Knowing what products, the tools and the order to clean, polish or protect things during an interior detail allows you to  effectively and efficiently perform an interior detailing of your car.