Interior Care

Taking care of your car involves more than changing the oil and maintaining the transmission. The interior and exterior require regular care as well. The overall appearance of your car, inside and out, plays a big role in the overall value of your vehicle. Keep these factors in mind as you work to care for your car's interior:

Vacuum

Invest in a small shop vacuum or routinely take your car to a car wash that vacuums out the interior. Remove your floor mats and vacuum all areas including under the seats and in the trunk.

Use a crevice tool to get into all of the hard-to-reach areas like between and under the seats, visors, etc. If available, use an air compressor to help blow dirt out of areas the vacuum nozzle cannot reach or fit. Use a floor brush when vacuuming the carpet. Move the seats forward or backward to reach areas under the seat.

Floor Mats

Floor mats take a lot of torture over the years. If you have carpeted floor mats, take the time to shampoo them and/or have them professionally cleaned. If they are rubber or "all season" mats, wash them with a common household cleaning solution. This will remove dirt as well as any sticky materials that could make it unsafe to drive.

Upholstery Cleaning

Your local auto parts store will offer a wide variety of cleaning products for every surface inside your car. Depending on the material of your car's seating surfaces, there are several different strategies you can use to keep your car in great shape.

For cloth or carpet-like surfaces, use a professional spray-on upholstery cleaner and work it in with a soft brush and let it dry, according to directions. If your upholstery is stained or excessively dirty you might want to invest in professional cleaning.

If you don't have an upholstery cleaner, a laundry detergent will work as well. Mix some detergent with warm water. Dip a clean cloth into it, squeeze out well - you want barely moist cloth. Work harder on dirty areas. When finished, dry the surface well with a clean, soft dry cloth.
Be careful with water inside the car - if the water gets into electrical components it may cause problems. Similarly, you don't want water to get inside your seats or under the carpet - it could cause corrosion, stains and mould smell.

For vinyl or leather seating, be sure you have a cleaning product that is safe for the material - don't use something that could hurt it. Using a leather conditioner will help protect your leather seats against the elements as well as provide you with a more supple sitting experience. You may also use saddle soap, or another mild leather soap on a damp cloth and rub it softly onto all leather areas. The right cleaner can prevent cracking and aging.

Carpet Cleaning

Clean the carpet the same way you cleaned the seats and upholstery. Be sure to test your cleaner in an an area not seen to make sure there is no discoloring etc. Spray the cleaner directly on the area to be cleaned and allow it to penetrate the carpet. Agitate the spot using the scrub brush. This will break up the dirt particles. After scrubbing, vacuum up all the dirt that you have loosened. Next just pat the area with a dry towel. Laundry detergent will work on the carpet as well.

Don't soak the carpet with water, it will cause mould smell and corrosion under the carpet. Use a hot water extractor to get the carpets as clean as possible. All you need is a wet and dry vac to suck up the excess water. Leave the doors open until the carpet dries thoroughly.

Hard Surfaces

Purchase an interior cleaner to get the remaining dirt on your dashboard, rubber door moldings and interior trim. Again, spray the cleaner directly on a clean cloth. Then clean tight areas such as air vents, panel seams, and radio buttons with a dampened soft toothbrush or a cotton swab.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Don't forget to pay attention to nooks and crannies, such as cracks and creases in your dashboard or console, your air-conditioning vents, and any buttons or cup holders. You'll probably need a small brush to clean some areas, as well as dust cloths and other cleaning supplies for larger areas. If you don't have the patience for such a thorough job, you might want to invest in having your car detailed at a dealership or a similar shop.

Windows and Windshield

Use glass cleaner to wash the inside of windows. Spray the cleaner directly on the cloth to avoid streaking. If you have tinted windows do not use cleaner with amonia, this may cause your tint to become discolored, crack or bubble.