Friday, March 8, 2013

DIY On a Dime: Cleaning the Inside of Your Car

Let's face it- we tend to forget about the inside of our cars when it comes to cleaning them. Even if you're perfect and take necessary precautions like avoiding fast food while driving, or making sure your friends wipe their feet before getting in, you're still accumulating grime, dust, and dirt over time. And while a freshly washed car looks amazing from the outside, it's a wasted effort if your interior looks like this.

You have two options- if you're short on time and energy, you can have your car professionally detailed at a dealership, where they'll clean everything, including the exterior and hard to reach areas like the door jambs and wheels. Otherwise, with some supplies and an afternoon of free time, you can tackle the challenge yourself!

Toyota interior, how to clean out inside of car

Here's what you'll need:

-All purpose household cleaner
-Window/glass cleaner 
-Fabric cleaner
-House hold vacuum with hose attachment
-Scrubbing brush
-Towel or cloth
-Car air freshener
-Cotton swabs

-Trash bag (if you have a lot of junk)
-Leather conditioner (if you have leather seats)
-De-greaser (for any stubborn stains that won't come out)

Have your materials ready? Follow these steps:

1. First order of business: empty out your car! Get all of your belongings, all the trash, food wrappers, loose coins, and anything else that might be hiding in there. Make sure to check between and under the seats, too.

2. Start cleaning from the top down. If you start with your windows and the dashboard, everything you wipe down is going to fall onto your seat or the floor. It's better to clean these areas first, so that you don't have to go back and clean another layer of fallen dust and dirt later. Wipe the windows down by applying the glass cleaner directly to a cloth (so the windows don't streak) and apply the all purpose household cleaner to the dash area. Use cotton swabs for cleaning around the vents. Be sure to dry everything off right after.

3. Vacuum. Grab a hand-vac, or a regular sized one with a hose attachment, and begin vacuuming the seats, mats, and floors. If you think your car is really dirty, you may want to pound the seats with a baseball bat or another blunt object to get out as much dust as possible beforehand.

4. Remove floor mats. Depending on how dirty your floor mats are, you may want to wash them separately with a hose. Spray down the mats to soften up any dirt, apply the fabric cleaner, and begin scrubbing with a brush. Use the de-greaser if you're working with tough stains. Afterward, wipe the mats with a towel and leave them someplace out in the open to dry.

5. Clean seats and carpeting. Spray the fabric cleaner and begin scrubbing, making sure to spend extra time on any stained areas. Don't overdo it on the cleaner, as too much moisture can take a longer time to dry, and cause a mildew smell in the carpet.

6. Use the air freshener. Something as simple as a bottle of Febreze should do the trick. Spray all around the interior of the car, and leave the windows down so it can ventilate.

SofTex, Leather seats

Once complete, your car should be looking (and smelling) much nicer! Do you have any extra tips or suggestions for cleaning out the inside of your car? Leave a comment below!


  1. If I'm going to do this all by myself, I need at least a few hours to finish everything. Most of the time, we leave trash and food inside the car that will create a pest infestation and we don't want that to happen. Our cars are our second home and we need to take care of it and clean it out once in a while.

  2. It's definitely a weekend project where you have a good chunk of time to get it done! Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Thanks for the tips! I clean my car basically the same way at least twice a year and it takes me hours. But when it comes to cleaning the outside of the car...I'm lost. My car always ends up having streaks all over it, I just take it to the car wash now because the car wash equipment works so well.

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