How to Care For Your Car's Interior

2010 Acura CSX interior. Image courtesy of

For many of us, the only thing we will ever buy that costs more than a car is a house. The better care you take of your car, the more value it will hold.

Not only will proper care help to retain your car's value over time, but it will also help to keep your car looking its best. Also, a well-kept car interior adds quality to your driving experience and lets you enjoy the comfort of your car to the fullest.

So, whether you plan to keep your car forever, or you are hoping to resell it or trade it in a few years, taking good care of your car's interior is vital to its appearance and overall value.

Cleaning the exterior is a simple task, but when it comes to the interior, that's an entirely different story. If you want to keep your car clean, you have to really work at it.

Not sure how to properly care for your car's interior? Here is an informative guide to help you get started.

First Things First

We all want to keep our cars looking their best. Not only because of the financial investment we have made in them, but also because we are seen driving them. We keep them parked in front of our houses, drive friends to the airport, and pick up dates in them. Having a car that you can be proud of is important.

People see the outside of our car the most so it matters the most, right? Not really. Being clean from the outside is only impressive from a distance. If you want your car to look really good to everyone, from drivers on the highway to your date for dinner this weekend, it is important to start from the inside and work your way out.

When it comes to caring for the interior of your car, a good plan of attack is the key to success and ease. By focusing on the following six areas of car's interior you will ensure that you are fully prepared for getting the job done right. Also, you will be sure not to forget or overlook anything.

1. Carpet and Upholstery

2013 Acura RDX interiot. Image courtesy of

The carpet and upholstery in your car can really take a beating. It is probably what is touched by the passengers the most, and often with their hands, clothes and shoes (that could be covered in anything). Here's what to do.

  • Remove all floor mats and seat covers. These can be cleaned outside of the car and returned when clean and fully dry to prevent mildew.
  • Use a spot cleaner for any stains. Make sure to find one that is right for your upholstery or carpet. Always follow the manufacturer's directions and, for an added safety measure, you can test any product you plan on using in a small area that will not be easily seen, to ensure that it does not cause any damage or discoloration before applying it on the entire area.
  • Don't forget your seat belts! They can be cleaned with most upholstery or carpet cleaners. It is important to clean them because they are used a lot, and often overlooked when cleaning. Even if they do not appear dirty, they probably are, so make sure you don't neglect them.
  • Wipe down hard surfaces in the car. It is important to do this before vacuuming so that any dust or dirt that is wiped onto the carpet will be vacuumed up and not fall on clean carpet afterwards.
  • Use a thin tool or a brush to clean all the cracks and crevices between the seats and other hard to reach places.
  • Thoroughly vacuum the carpet on the floors, seats, and head rests. Be sure to use the proper attachments to avoid any damage to more delicate upholstery. In most vehicles, the seats lift and move to make hard to reach spots more accessible. Consult your owner's manual to find out about your car.
  • When everything is clean and dry, apply upholstery and carpet protector that will help to protect from stains and future wear and tear.

2. Dashboard, Glove Box, and Steering Wheel

2012 Acura TL steering wheel. Image courtesy of

When cleaning the dashboard and steering wheel, it is important to consider the level of sun exposure that these areas receive. It is not only important to clean them, but also to protect them. Here's how to do it.

  • Empty and organize the glove box.
  • Wipe down surfaces with a dry cloth. Be sure to use a microfiber cloth on these surfaces and not another material that might be more abrasive and cause damage.
  • When using cleaning products always follow manufacturer's instructions, and just as with the carpet and upholstery products, it is worth the extra time to test the product in a non-visible area to make sure there is no damage or discoloration.
  • Always apply protectant or cleaning solution to your cleaning cloth and do not spray directly on surface to avoid getting it on the windows and carpet.
  • Don't forget to clean around knobs and buttons.
  • A small soft bristle toothbrush and cotton swabs can be used to clean in small cracks.
  • After everything is clean, a quality protector should be applied to prevent fading, cracking and peeling. It will also help to retain the color of your interior against the sun.

  3. Compartments, Visors, and Cup Holders

2010 Acura MDX central storage. Image courtesy of

All cars are different, but almost every model has ashtrays, cup holders, or compartments of some kind. A lot of these are removable and can be taken out for easier cleaning. You should:

  • Remove any possible parts following instructions in owner's manual.
  • Use appropriate cleaner for the surface. Cloth, cotton swabs, or small brushes will be needed to get in small areas.
  • Make sure any removed parts are completely dry before returning them in car's interior.

4. Doors

Cleaning door panels. Image courtesy of

The doors of most cars have a combination of materials. Make sure to use the correct products on each area.

  • Use a toothbrush to clean around door handles, pulls and window cranks.
  • Use smaller tools such as cotton swabs or brushes to remove stains.
  • If the door panels have storage pockets, use a sponge or a wash mitt to clean those areas.
  • Don't forget to clean the speaker grills and the wells on armrests.
  • Clean the door frame and the doorsill as well.
  • Use an all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber towel to clean the door shuts.
  • Dry the door thoroughly.
  • Once clean and dry, protect the shuts by applying a surface dressing to plastic surfaces and either sealant or wax protection to painted surfaces.

5. Windows

The windows are the most important part of car's interior you need to keep clean at all times. Clean windows allow you to see better when driving while also making your car look nice and shiny. Here's what to do.

  • Clean the windows with an appropriate cleaner. On the exterior of the windows you might want to use a cleaner that contains a water repellent. These make water bead up and improve visibility.
  • When cleaning the inside of the windows, spray the product on a clean terry cloth, and not on the window directly to avoid splatter.
  • Dry windows thoroughly, and make sure to erase any streaks.

6. Trunk

2010 Acura ZDX Trunk. Image courtesy of

Trunks can often serve as a catch-all for unnecessary items. They can also be the source of nasty smells. Even though they are often overlooked when cleaning the interior, it is still important to keep them clutter-free, clean and organized. Here are proper steps you need to take.

  • Empty everything out.
  • Vacuum thoroughly, using any needed attachments.
  • Treat any spots or stains. The carpet in most cars is the same as the carpet inside the car so the products used for car's interior should be fine. 
  • Clean the cover and the sides of the trunk with a soapy mixture. Be sure to dry them thoroughly.

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