What You’ll Need
A handheld vacuum cleaner with an extension hose and attachments to clean crevices is essential. If you have pets, you can get a special model that is designed to pick up pet hair. You will also need a soft microfiber cloth, as these are the best items to use to clean interior fittings and hard surfaces. They will trap and remove dust and dirt without scratching or damaging any surfaces
Additionally, you will need a firm bristle brush that is to be used to remove stubborn patches of dirt from carpets, mats, and upholstery, a pet hair remover mitt or sponge, a general purpose cleaner for hard surfaces like plastic, vinyl, and glass, and you will need a stain remover or spray-on fabric cleaner for stubborn dirt.
For a deep clean, you will need a tin of compressed air to get rid of dirt in awkward corners and a handheld steamer for cleaning fabric upholstery. It is also advisable that you have a protectant for fabrics and leather upholstery on hand.
Carpets and Mats
It may be best to clean the flooring materials last so you can pick up the dirt dislodged from the seats, dashboard, and other surfaces. Begin with the vacuum cleaner and make the first pass to pick up loose dirt and debris. Remember to move the front seats forward so you can get to the dust and crumbs underneath.
For any stubborn bits of dirt, use a stiff brush to work them loose. It’s best to brush from the edges to the center and to collect the loose dirt in the middle of the mat and then pick it up with the vacuum.
If there are any stains, use a stain remover to get the fabric clean. Mats can also be cleaned out with a strong jet of water from the garden hose. They should be fully dry before being replaced in the car. If you need to deep clean the carpets and fabric upholstery, it’s best to use a handheld steam cleaner.
Seats and Upholstery
Begin by vacuuming all seats and upholstery, including headrests and the back of the seats. Don’t forget to clean the doors as well. Use the crevice attachment to clean in the hard-to-reach areas where food crumbs tend to get stuck. Wipe down your seats with a damp towel to pick up any remaining fragments.
For deep cleaning, it’s best to use a steam cleaner. If needed, a chemical cleaner may be used, but it should be specially formulated for interior car cleaning and detailing.
Leather seats need special care. Once or twice a year, they should be cleaned using special cleaners, followed by a conditioning product that will keep the leather from drying out in the sun. A special protectant to guard against UV rays may also be used.
Dashboard, Vents, and Trim
Use a general purpose cleaner and a soft microfiber duster to wipe down the dashboard and trim. Use the vacuum and a can of compressed air to get rid of dirt from corners and angles. A foam swab can help get the dirt out the grills on vents and speakers.
The cupholders can be a problem area with spills from sugary drinks that tend to stick to the surfaces. Using a spray-on cleaner and a damp towel should get rid of the most persistent ones.
Windows and Mirrors
Use glass cleaner and a soft microfiber cloth to clean windows and mirrors. It’s better to spray the cleaner on the cloth rather than on the mirrors and windows directly. This prevents streaking and also keeps you from getting the cleaner on other parts of the car.
To detail like a pro, remember to roll down the window and wipe off the line of grime that forms at the top of the glass. Attention to detail takes very little time and makes a big difference to the final results.
Getting Rid of Odors
Bad odors in your car can be due to a number of sources such as food, kids, pets, and smokers. The quick and easy way to get rid of them is to use products specially formulated to remove odors. These can be sprayed or used as foggers. Some are specially designed to clean the bad smells from the air vents as well.
Additional Tips and Techniques
Then there are the stubborn stains and odors that can linger, making you despair of ever getting rid of them. Mud, grass, blood, coffee, and food are the worst offenders here. Persistence is the key to getting rid of stains and odors. You can try experimenting with several different products before you find the one that works best for you.