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How To Clean a Car’s Interior

How To Clean a Car’s Interior

This episode is brought to you by Squarespace. [INTRO MUSIC] Whether you feel like cleaning is a soothing
ritual or a task best procrastinated, cleaning your stuff is part of adulting. So let’s take a look at a simple but effective
checklist for cleaning the interior of your car. We should note that this guide is geared towards
folks on a budget who own a car that maybe isn’t in completely pristine condition,
and not for folks who won a new car on the Price is Right. One day… Okay, first up, let’s gather our supplies. Here is a list of household cleaning materials,
with a few car-specific cleaners if you want to go the extra mile. A bucket, soft cloth, laundry detergent, dish
soap, a vacuum, and toothbrushes can go a long way by themselves. But, it’s good to remember that dish and
laundry soaps are designed to clean dishes and clothes, and therefore aren’t always
the best choice to use on your car. If you’re unsure how a soap solution is
going to affect the material you’re applying it to, it’s always a good idea to test it
out on a small section of the car first. Step one: clear out all of your stuff. A car is a room on wheels, so it makes sense
that you might have a few things in there that don’t belong, but have lingered nonetheless. Grab some trash bags and sort your stuff into
‘stuff that belongs in the car’, ‘stuff that belongs elsewhere’, and ‘stuff that
goes in the trash that is too big to vacuum’. Here’s lookin’ at you, four-year-old french
fry. [violin sting] Step two: FLOOR MATS If you have removeable floor mats, remove
them! Then whack them on the ground to get the smaller
dusty particles out and vacuum to get rid of any big particles in the fibers or crevices. If you have rubber mats you can use a hose
or a bucket of water, and some detergent to wash away any stains or remaining dust with
a sponge or cloth. Then give them a rinse, towel them off, and
hang them up to air dry while you go about the rest of your cleaning spree. If you have cloth mats you’ll want a stiff
bristle brush, a laundry detergent and water mix, and some degreaser if you have some particularly
bad or greasy stains. First, if you’ve got any obvious nasty spots,
spray the degreaser on the cloth side and let it sit for about 15 minutes or so. Then take that stiff bristled brush from your
detergent-water mix and give the mat a good brush-down in vertical strokes, and then perpendicular
horizontal strokes. After that, use an absorbent cloth and some
elbow grease to absorb as much water and suspended dirt as you can. Hang it up to dry while you complete the rest
of the car cleaning. Make sure your mats are sahara dry before
putting them back in your car. The last thing you want from your cleaning
session is to wind up with a musty or moldy floor. Step three: VACUUM. Vacuum up all of the loose debris in your
car using an attachment without bristles. This requires getting up close and personal
with the crumbs of past snacks, dog hair, and dirt. Make sure to get under each seat, and use
the crevice tool of your vacuum to get into every nook and cranny. Step four: FLOORS If you have a vinyl or rubber floor just use
mild dish soap, water, and a rag. Easy peasy! If you have a carpeted floor, cleaning it
is a little tricky. You don’t want to get anything too wet for
too long or it will mildew and mold. If the carpet isn’t too dirty, the safer
play is probably to just vacuum. Better to look at a tiny coffee stain than
smell putrid mold, I always say. But if you have a few stains that are driving
you bananas, dilute some laundry detergent with water and put it in a spray bottle, or
use products specifically designed for car carpeting. Spritz ‘er a few times, then grab your brush
and get busy. Dab the spot with a damp rag to remove the
soap and dirt, but again, don’t let your carpet get too wet. Make sure those spots are dry before closing
all your doors and windows. If you’re on a time crunch and you’ve
still got wet spots, you can bust out a hair dryer and extension cord to finish the job
quickly. Bonus points for pointing the hair dryer at
yourself and pretending you’re in a shampoo commercial. Step five: SEATS For fabric upholstered seats, fill two buckets
with water, one hot and one cold. Then put a small amount of laundry detergent
in the hot water bucket. Lightly dampen the brush or rag with the water
from the hot bucket, then scrub your stain. Finally, use a cloth or towel dampened with
the cold bucket and remove excess soap and dirt with it. To get into those seams, try using a toothbrush. Leather seats are a little trickier. Clean them with commercial leather cleaner,
saddle soap, or a very diluted solution of liquid dish washing soap. Lightly dampen a soft cloth with your soap
solution and gently wipe the surfaces down. Be careful not to use too much water or it
might stain your leather or seep into the cushions. Because leather is literally cow skin, you
need a conditioner to keep it from drying out and cracking. Apply some leather conditioner to a soft cloth
and lightly massage it into the seat. You want to strike a balance on leather: make
sure your car’s seat-skin doesn’t dry out, but don’t get it super greasy either. Step six: INTERIOR WINDSHIELD Cleaning the interior of your windshield requires
some interesting and potentially difficult arm positioning, but trust me, it’ll be
worth it. For a deep clean, first grab a dry, clean,
soft cloth and wipe the entire windshield. Next, put a few towels on the dashboard to
prevent any spillage from glass to dash. Then apply some rubbing alcohol or glass cleaner
to a paper towel or clean cloth and get to wiping. Another method is to use a crumpled up newspaper
with a white vinegar and water mixture. Rub your windshield down in a circular pattern
to eliminate spots, and finish off with some vertical and horizontal strokes. Step seven: DUSTING HARD SURFACES For this step, you can buy some Armor All
or some other brand, or use a bucket of hot water with some mild dishwashing soap, and
a rag. You can use a soft toothbrush, q-tip, or soft
paintbrush to get into those hard-to-reach places like the AC vents, or around various
knobs. Add the soap to the tool you’re using instead
of spraying directly on the surface. This will decrease the likelihood of staining
that precious vinyl. And finally, be careful not to apply vinyl
or leather cleaner or any other slippery solution to your steering wheel or gearstick. Even the most beautifully polished wheel or
stickshift is not worth spending a night — or a month — in the hospital. And there you have it! Make sure to bask in the cleanliness of your
car’s interior while you can, but don’t sweat it when the next french fry drops, or
your dog jumps in after running around in the mud. Life is messy. If you have any car interior cleaning tips
or tricks, let us know in the comments! We love to hear from you and continue the
conversation. And if you want to learn more about adulting
with Hank and me, subscribe to us at We’re hoping to have an episode for cleaning
the exterior of your car in the future, so keep an eye out, and happy cleaning! This episode is brought to you by Squarespace,
which lets users create custom websites or online stores with its all-in-one platform. If you’re looking to make your next move
on a business idea or want to launch a creative project, check out Squarespace. With award-winning templates and 24/7 customer
support, you’ll have everything you need to create a website, build a portfolio, design
an online store, and more. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur,
musician, artist, or designer, make your next move by visiting, and use
the code “ADULT” for 10% off your first order. Dish soap. Can I never say dish soap in other scripts
ever again? But it’s good to remember that dish s-thppp. Man, now my eyes hurt. [laughter] Okay. Step—step four floor. [laughter] Step four— Step four. Floor. [laughter] Can I say floors? Step four. Floors. [off-screen]
You’re like back there, giggling! [off-screen]
I’m a terrible director. Everybody just take a deep breath, and hold
it. Better to look at a tiny coffee stain than
smell putrid mold, I always say. Lightly dampen a brush or a rag with the water
from the hot bocket. Hot pocket.

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64 thoughts on “How To Clean a Car’s Interior

  1. So helpful!! Thank you, thank you, thank you so much! I've just got a second hand car and haven't known how to get started cleaning it and this is great!

  2. perfect timing! my boyfriend lent me his car while he's abroad for the summer and it needed a very deep clean.

  3. I would clean out the interior of my fiancé's (now husband) car and I always had a hard time calling it 'my' car even though he insisted it was mine too. Let me tell you, I would not let any car of MINE get as dirty as HIS!

  4. heh, sorry howtoadult but there's TONS of info on interior detailing out there, ammonyc has a nice video on the topic.
    to be honest if you just rent a hot water extractor (like one of those rug doctors from walmart) that has a handheld attachment, you can go through most of the cloth interior of a car like the floors and seats and make it look basically brand new in a few minutes.

  5. the best tip that I can offer anyone is to do the little things often like cleaning windows and vacuuming. It makes a huge difference when trying to do the big things

  6. Thanks for publishing this on the exact day I was going to clean my car! I've literally been putting this off for years.

  7. Perfect timing! I'm trying to buy a car and trade mine in… the outside is beautiful but the inside… not so much. But I'm trying to get it in pristine condition to get as much as possible on the trade in

  8. I really need to clean my car, I think last time I did it was like 2 months ago. Thanks for the reminder (?)

  9. I did this (super thoroughly) last summer and it took like 4 hours! It was so worth it though but it's been a year and I have to deep clean again!

  10. I find a lot of attachments (even the small ones) are too big to get into weird corners/creases of your car, so I use a small brush to "lift" dirt as I vacuum. I brush/whisk the dirt out with one hand, and vacuum it up at the same time with the other. Depending on the part of the car, I might not get all of the dirt out, but it helps!

  11. Great video!!! It's like you read my mind and knew what I needed! Now I just have to get around to doing it…. 😛

  12. Awesome as always! Another tip: most areas have at least one professional car wash place, and they're cheaper than you think.
    I'm unable to clean my own car bc I have fibro, but I take it in once a month for a quick wash, Vacuum, and dust and once every 6mo for detailing. Here in NE Florida that runs me $30 and $100 respectively. I have two kids and we live on a farm so my car gets DIRTY but there's no big stains, and it really helps keep the bugs out! (Which we have in scary supply here)

  13. I have found that the easiest way to clean hard to reach areas is to roll the vehicle over on it's top. You find all kinds of things you didn't even know were missing.

  14. If you are sensitive to smells, especially artificial smells, but your car is getting a funk to it, pour some baking soda into a new sock (can't be threadbare or it'll spill out) and tie off the top and put it in your car. If you want to get more scented, buy a jar of cinnamon sticks and remove the cap. Leave the weird plastic thing with holes on it and place it in your car. To get it to work even better, put a teaspoon or two of mineral oil, canola oil, or olive oil in the jar to keep them fragrant.

  15. Newspaper ink isn't made out of the same stuff it used to be so using it to clean windshields with vinegar no longer works that well

  16. I once spilled rusty water on the light tan interior of my Honda Civic. I used a solution of water, vinegar, and a little dish soap to scrub at it, then salt to draw out moisture. Afterwards, there was no trace of the stain!

  17. It occurs to me that the view counts on these videos are probably lowered by the fact that plenty of people probably don't watch them until they actually try to do the stuff described

  18. Can you make a PDF of all the info covered in your videos? I love these videos but it would be nice to have a hard copy of your magical knowledge.

  19. I've always been informed not to use anything besides a water-dampened cloth on the dashboard. Any type of cleanser or soap will penetrate and seep into the vinyl. The sun's rays will raise the temperature of these substances, causing them to expand and over time, cracks will eventually begin to form in the vinyl.

  20. Great info! All that I'd add would be to check your Owner's Manual when in doubt. For example, if you're lucky enough to have heated seats, it's probably worth the effort to make sure that spraying soapy liquid on them won't cause dangerous problems… there may be special cleaning instructions for something like that =)

  21. If your steering wheel is grimy and doesn't clean up with cleaner/soap and a cloth, use a Magic Eraser. Gets it super clean!

  22. I've been detailing cars for almost 2 years now and I can tell you that the majority of this video is complete BS.

    All these different cleaning chemicals are totally unnecessary. A good carpet cleaner (not even diluted. Just use the straight concentrate.) Is literally all you need.

    A stiff bristled brush and maybe a toothbrush are the only brushes you need. (And maybe a wire brush for getting sand out of carpets.)

    Putting towels on the dash when cleaning the windshield is totally pointless. It's not like glass cleaner is made of weaponized acid or anything. It won't hurt anything if you get the dash wet. Just wipe it off.

    "Spray the tool, not the surface." Is just a waste of time. A lot of detailers will tell you not to spray anything directly on the surface, but it's not really a big deal. It really only matters (a little) with fabric, and even then it's fine if you just make sure to dry it thoroughly. "Careful not to stain the vinyl". I'll let you in on a secret… VINYL IS REALLY DAMN HARD TO STAIN. That's why auto manufacturers use it so heavily. Just don't use bleach or anything containing acetone and it'll be fine.

    "Don't use slippery stuff on the steering wheel or stick shift."

    Well no shit. What the hell are you cleaning this car with? Anal lube? Anything you clean the steering wheel with will dry in minutes. It'll be ok.

    And leather seats are no where near as fragile as most people seem to think. Sure a little leather conditioner is a good idea every once in a while, but that's not entirely necessary either. How long are you planning on having this car? The seats will fair just fine for a decade with no conditioning at all.

    Side note: if your seatbelts are dirty and stained, don't bother trying to clean them. They are a fucking bitch and a half to clean. It's not worth it. Just buy new ones. Would you rather spend a couple hundred getting brand new seatbelts, or spend literally 6 hours cleaning a single belt, and still have 4 other belts to clean? (I may be exaggerating just a tad, but seriously. Seatbelts are the worst.)

    Also, if you really insist on cleaning floor mats rather than spending $15 on new ones, just take them to a self serve car wash and pressure wash them. It's so much easier and faster. And frankly, it works better most of the time.

  23. Thank you! My 17yr old Toyota Avalon is over due post Nullabor crossing. I'll be very interested in deeply embedded bug splat removal for the paint work… I guess it could've been worse tho, like Roo or Wombat!

  24. Thanks HTA!. Another Tip I learned from another you tube channel is to use paper coffee filters instead of paper towels as they are cheaper and don't leave lint. They are not as absorbent but clean glass WAY better. The first time I tried this I was amazed how well it worked.

  25. the whole interior of my car is covered in this wierd film of nastiness. it smells wierd. and theres crumbs all over the console. its disturbing, really…

  26. I think the grey vinyl in my car turned dull/greenish after cleaning with the dishwashing soap solution. Is this possible? Would like to send you a picture

  27. So your saying don't clean the steering wheel with thr laundry detergent and water??? Can we just use a wash cloth and those multipurpose cleaners like 409?

  28. Hey guys on my new channel I do a deep dive on how to really take care of your car (as deep as you want to go) and buy used tires the right way.

  29. A cool trick if you live in an area with a lot of bugs, and like my dog, yours likes to befriend them… put baby powder onto carpetted floors and cloth seats right before vacuuming. The baby powder will keep most creepy crawlies away, I don't know why it works, but it does.

  30. How can I clean a silicone stain on the dashboard from a phone holder (that used a plunger made out of silicone) that stood in the sun and now left a sticky round and sometimes runny stain?

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