Clean machine: How to make your car interior look as good as new


Drivers frequently spend hours washing and waxing the exterior of their pride and joy, but often the car interior gets overlooked. Bearing in mind that when you’re driving, this is the only part you’ll see, it makes sense to treat it to a makeover as well. There are many different materials, surfaces and textures inside a car. And it can be a haven for stains, smears and marks – not to mention germs. So here are some tips for giving your car’s interior that as-new look.

Step 1: Before you start

You wouldn’t try to clean the outside of your car with an oily sponge and a dirty bucket (or at least, you shouldn’t!) and that applies here too. Make sure you have all the right tools available. You’ll need a good plastic bristled brush to start with; this will be for the stubborn stains. You’ll need lots of old rags too, you could use expensive microfibre cloths but an old T-shirt ripped into sections is as good. Then get some proper cleaning products: specialist companies such as Meguiars and Autoglym have huge ranges but don’t discount high-street brands such as Halfords. Its cleaning products have come top in many independent tests.

Step 2: Clear out the clutter

The first step is to clear the interior of rubbish. Anyone with children will know that a huge amount of clutter can be left in a car – especially in the back where smaller members of the family tend to travel. If you have folding rear seats, make sure you lift them forwards or up to check there’s no rubbish in the cracks. Check in the door pockets and under the front seats too. These are out of sight but make the perfect hiding place for old apple cores or banana skins.

Step 3: First steps

To begin with you will need your vacuum’s hose attachment fitted with a long nozzle. This will come in handy when trying to get crumbs from those tricky areas between the front seats and centre console. Remove the floor mats and leave them outside the car. Then vacuum all around the interior. Pay special attention to the driver’s footwell as this is the most heavily used area. Shake the floor mats and give them a vacuum too. Complete this phase by cleaning the pedals and foot rest and wiping the bodywork inside the doors, known as door shuts. Many people forget to do this which is a bit like cleaning the house and not bothering with the entrance hall.

Step 4: On the surface of it

As there are so many different materials used inside a car, there are different approaches needed. For general cleaning and dusting of the interior, use some interior wipes. These will lift the dust and not leave a residue behind. Faded black trim pieces can be restored to a deeper colour with Meguiars Ultimate Black or Turtle Wax Black in a Flash. For glossy trim you can use a Cockpit Shine by Turtle Wax, Armor All or Halfords.

Step 5: Seat feat

The seats in a car interior will invariably get a lot of abuse. Cloth and leather each have their own problems. Cloth seats can get food stuck to them and absorb stains, so you may need a specialist product such as Halfords Upholstery Cleaner. Light-coloured leather seats can have colour transferred from jeans or trousers. Use Autoglym’s Leather Care Balm to bring the colour back to normal. If you do have leather seats, once you’ve cleaned them use a conditioner or leather food. This won’t just make them look great, it will help make the leather more flexible and last longer without cracking.

Step 6: And finally…

With sat nav and phone holders now commonplace in cars, it’s usual to find fingerprints on the inside of the windscreen to accompany the many found on side windows. Just as with the windows in your home it’s best to use a specialist glass cleaner to give you a clear view ahead. There are options from all the big names such as Turtlewax, Armor All, Simoniz and Halfords. But we’d go with Anti-Fog cleaner from Rain-X. This has a special formulation that reduces the amount of fogging you get. For interior glass, a microfibre cloth is best to use as it won’t leave any bits of material behind on the glass. If you wipe the glass inside horizontally and outside vertically, you’ll instantly know which side any smears are on.

Find out how to save money when servicing your car

Mandy Weston

Mandy Weston

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