How To Clean the Interior of a Car

How To Clean the Interior of a Car

If you haven’t seen the satisfying magic of watching someone deep clean the interior of a vehicle, you need to make time to find a video of it on your favorite app. You’ll be amazed at just how dirty the inside of a vehicle can get. Even seemingly clean vehicles can still host a ton of dirt. 

We clean our homes because we live in them. We clean our work areas because we work in them. However, not everyone cleans their vehicle because they ride in them. So, if you’re starting to feel a little anxious about the interior of your vehicle, don’t worry. We’re going to learn exactly how to clean the interior of a car. 

When you know how to clean the interior of a car, you’ll be able to keep your car clean and always return your rental car in the same clean condition you received it, and it will give you an appreciation for the people who clean rental vehicles between each use.

What Frequency?

How often you should clean your car’s interior will depend on a few things. 

You should consider the recent driving conditions. Has it been muddy from rain or snow lately? Have you taken it to sandy areas like the beach? Has dry, hot weather created excess dust? Your driving conditions can influence your frequency and mean that you should clean more often.

You should consider how you use the vehicle most often. If you are transporting small children, there’s a good chance your backseat area is going to need attention more often. If you are using your vehicle to transport clients, you’ll want to keep it clean on a regular basis and spot treat just before a meeting. If you share your vehicle, you’ll need to consider how other drivers are using the vehicle too.

Lastly, you’ll want to consider how many passengers you have on a regular basis. A lot of passengers or passengers of various ages could mean that you need to bump up your frequency if you want to keep your interior clean. 

Material Matters

If you’ve ever paid attention to the interior of a vehicle, you’ve probably noticed that there are lots of different material types in the interior. Vehicles can have plastic, wood, leather, cloth, vinyl, and more. 

How you clean will depend on the material you’re cleaning, so be sure to pay attention to the area you’re preparing to clean and use an appropriate method. If you’re unsure, remember to always test a small area before proceeding to other areas. 


In order to clean your interior properly,  you need to arm yourself with the proper supplies to do a thorough and complete job. Here are some basic supplies you need to clean your interior:

  • Trash bag/bin
  • Vacuum (crevice tool and hose preferrable)
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Cotton swabs
  • Spray bottle(s)
  • Toothbrush
  • Tweezers
  • Window cleaner (ammonia-free) or distilled white vinegar
  • Dishwashing liquid of your choice
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Leather cleaner (where appropriate)
  • Upholstery cleaner (where appropriate)

You want to have a clean space to enjoy riding in, and in today’s world, we’ve all learned to value a sanitary space to just breathe. Now that you’re ready to get started, here are the steps to cleaning the interior of your vehicle.


Following a few simple steps will help you get the cleanest interior you’ve had in ages. 

Step 1: Clean Up Trash

This is probably the most obvious step in cleaning your car’s interior. Picking up trash and debris in your vehicle will wipe the slate clean to prepare your car for cleaning the rest of your interior. Remember to check in and around the areas of all passengers and crevices like cup holders and side compartments. 

Step 2: Clean Floor Mats

In order to clean your interior, you need to clean your floor mats, and the best way to clean your floor mats is to remove them. This step will allow you to clean the floor mats as well as the area underneath where debris can hide. 

You’ll want to shake out the mats and vacuum them clean. If you have carpeted mats, this is a good time to do carpet cleaning on them. For other types of mats, you can scrub them clean with a cleaning solution, brush, and towels. 

When you’ve cleaned your mats, set them in a clean space to the side such as on a tarp, and you’ll want to be sure that they’re completely dry, regardless of material, before you put them back into your floorboards. 

Step 3: Window Washing

Your windows are the key to good visibility while you’re driving. It’s easy to remember that you need a clean, streak free windshield, but you need clean interior windows too. 

Step 4: Clean Surfaces

Cleaning your surfaces helps to dust the space to make vacuuming in a later step more effective to really get your interior clean. You’ll want to wipe down all of your surfaces with a microfiber cloth or duster to remove dust that accumulates, just like dust in your home. 

As you would dust at home, be sure to clean the smaller areas like knobs, cup holders, and door compartments. 

Step 5: Clean Seats

How you clean your seats will depend on your interior’s material. Clean cloth, vinyl, or leather as needed. You may need to vacuum as soon go to remove small particles in the crevices of the seats. 

Step 6: Clean Carpet

Now that you have cleared all the surfaces and seats, you’re ready to do the carpet. Start by vacuuming the flooring. 

If you don’t have carpet, you can wipe down the flooring with a cleaning solution. If you have carpet, you may choose to stop at vacuuming, or you may want to clean the carpet more thoroughly with a carpet cleaner.

Once the flooring is clean and dry, you may reinstall the floor mats you cleaned earlier. 

Step 7: Finishing Touches

When you have finished cleaning your interior, it’s a good idea to wipe down surfaces one last time with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. Lastly, wipe surfaces, especially frequently touches surfaces like the steering wheel, with a sanitizing wipe. Now, your interior is satisfyingly clean, and you’re ready to hit the road or return your rental car.


Having a clean car interior is good for everyone in the vehicle. Keeping your interior clean is a good way to be safe. You can keep the glass clean and free from anything that could hinder your vision. 

Keeping your interior clean can also increase the longevity of your car’s value, and cleaning your rental before you turn it back in helps protect you from any surprises after you’ve returned your vehicle. Plus, you won’t leave anything behind.

Don’t forget to enjoy the satisfaction of the before and after of a thorough cleaning. You’ll be done before you know it, but you’ll also be thankful for all the people who clean car interiors for a living.

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