In addition to periodically washing the car exterior, it is recommended to clean the cabin at least once a year and that’s the absolute minimum we are talking about. No matter how often you are using the vehicle, eventually the car seat upholstery, floor mats and the car ceiling get dirty.

And when using the air conditioner, the air from it spreads dust and particles of dirt throughout the cabin, which over time can lead not only to electrical appliances and wiring breakdowns, but also to diseases of the driver and passengers.

car cleaning

Car interior cleaning can be trusted to professional cleaners or you can take care of it yourself. The second option is a great way to save money, especially since it is not difficult to clean the interior of a car from dirt, if you choose the right materials and cleaning solutions. Usually, cleaning takes only a few hours.

Car dry cleaning begins with the proper preparation for this process. To prepare the vehicle for dry cleaning, it is necessary to perform the following actions:

  1. Wipe all panels with a damp cloth and then let them dry.
  2. Carry out dry cleaning. To do this, you need to get all the floor mats out of the cabin, scavenge debris, vacuum thoroughly, remove dust and debris from hard-to-reach places using an air compressor.
  3. Fully unload the vehicle interior and its boot, removing all unnecessary items from it. Even the glove box should be free of objects, so you can clean everywhere.
  4. Stop the engine completely and remove the key from the ignition lock. It is impossible to leave the audio system turned on (for fans of working with music, it is better to use other sources), since contact with cleaning products may cause a short circuit.

After all of the above actions have been done, you can proceed to deep cleaning. Grab your choice of carpet shampoos for spot cleaning, or prepare the cleaning machines. You'll need heavy-duty gear to deal with tough stains, so let us inform you:

What equipment to use for car interior cleaning?

How to clean the car interior

To carry out a thorough cleaning of the car upholstery and carpets, you need the following equipment for interior cleaning:

  • Refillable spray bottle for easy application of cleaning products on the soft and hard surfaces.
  • Clean cotton cloths or paper towels, preferably lighter coloured, but 100% colour fast regardless of colour. A good option is a microfibre cloth that leaves no marks on the surface after use. For a thorough interior cleaning session, you may need up to a dozen cloths or half a roll of paper towels.
  • A powerful hoover to vacuum clean any powder-based cleaning solutions out of the carpet fibres.
  • A set of scrub brushes of different stiffness with high quality and not leaving marks.
  • Cleaning chemicals used to lift stains from the car upholstery. It is also good to prevent future stains with a product like Scotchgard.
  • Steam machine, if there is a need to clean the interior with a water-based method. This is usually indicated by the presence of stubborn stains, such as coffee or engine oil.
  • Air compressor (to carry out the initial cleaning of the car, and knock dust out of hard-to-reach places).

What cleaning solutions to use for cleaning the car interior?

Professional tools for cleaning the car's interior make it possible to achieve a better result than ordinary household chemicals. It is not recommended to use household cleaning products for cleaning the car's interior, as it is not intended for this and instead of a positive effect it often gives a negative one.

But despite this, many car owners use household chemicals. Today there are a lot of tools for cleaning all surfaces of the car, which perfectly cope even with old spots. The main rule when choosing - to use those tools that fit the appropriate surface.

Popular cleaning products for car carpets and upholstery

There are a few foam and spray store-brand cleaning solutions we personally recommend. They are some of the best on the market for doing it yourself without home remedies. In no particular order, here they are:

Diamondbrite Upholstery and Carpet Cleaner

Diamondbrite's product is one of the best solutions if you want to get the job done quickly. Don't let its name fool you, as you can also use it to clean all hard surfaces. Spray it from about 6 to 8 inches away, let it work for about 10 minutes, then blot it out.

Meguiar's Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner

Meguiar's developed this solution to help people keep their car interior pristine. It achieves great results in stain and odour removal. Additionally, it has a built-in brush for agitating the solution into the fabric. To top it off, it leaves no residues after the cleaning has finished.

Halfords Upholstery Cleaner

Halfords product is the budget option that still solves almost all car upholstery issues. It can remove stains just as easily as the other products, though results may vary. In the end, if you're not a big spender, Halfords has you covered.

Tips for cleaning the car's ceiling:

Fair warning to all vehicle owners, the ceiling is the most delicate part of the car upholstery. Vehicle manufacturers advise being very careful, as a powerful machine could unglue the roof lining and cause it to hang. Always choose professionals who have years of experience and can offer a gentler approach to the car headlining.

  • While cleaning the ceiling, it is convenient to divide it into several parts. For the best results, hoover the whole ceiling before you spot clean the stains, if any are present.
  •  Use a soft brush to apply foam, and agitate it using the same brush, without too much pressure. After applying the foam, wait a few minutes and then wipe it with a dry cloth.
  •  Use clean, colour fast white or bright coloured cloths to blot the foam and stain residues. This is necessary so that during the cleaning process the fabric does not stain the surface.
  • Always use dry cloths to blot stains and cleaning solutions. If the cloth is moistened during cleaning, it must be replaced. Therefore, before you start cleaning, stock up with a sufficient amount of clean towels.
  • Wipe foam cleaner always in one direction (from the front glass to the boot or vice versa). Otherwise, the delicate ceiling covering fluffs and loses its appearance.
  • If after the first cleaning there are stains on the ceiling, the cleaning should be repeated once more. But again, do not be too rough or you might damage the soft headliner material.
  • During cleaning the ceiling, cleaning foam often falls on the windows of the car. If this happens, you need to erase it immediately, because the substances that make up the foam can adversely affect or even ruin the glass. Before cleaning, it is better to treat the glass with soapy water, which will protect them from damage if foam enters.

What are some home remedies for car carpet cleaning?

Cleaning products for car interior

The mildest cleaning product you can use is dish soap, especially if it's eco-friendly. Dish soap packs enough of a punch to remove lighter marks, such as a few droplets of a soft drink. Take care not to apply it in pure form, as you may make a lot of bubbles which are difficult to manage.

Dry cleaning of carpets with salt

Salt is the safest universal homemade cleaning recipe. It does not cause allergies and intoxications and it is suitable for removing dirt from car carpets. At the same time, salt eliminates odours, since it has the ability to absorb them.

How to use salt to clean car carpets:

  • Sprinkle the carpet with fine salt.
  • Spread it over the surface with a brush, and optionally, rub the nap lightly so that the grains of salt penetrate deeper. In the process, the salt gets dirty – it absorbs dirt from the carpet.
  • Wait until the carpet is completely dry, and vacuum it until salt is completely removed.

One of the simplest recipes is to use liquid laundry detergent, diluted with water in a ratio of 1:20. Similarly, you can use washing powder (one tablespoon per litre of water). Both of these should be placed in a container and thoroughly shaken until they become a thick foam. All carpet cleaning agents should be applied on a dirty surface, allowed to soak, and then removed with a cloth.

Acetic essence solution with water is another way to clean car upholstery yourself. In particular, one teaspoon will be enough to dilute with a glass of water. Please note that this composition copes well with the stains left by alcoholic beverages on the surface of the car's cabin elements.

Can rubbing alcohol or ammonia be used to clean car carpets?

Ethyl alcohol, having a concentration of 90% or close to it, copes well with difficult to remove stains left with ink or lipstick. Ammonia in a concentration of 10% allows you to remove stains left by coffee, tea or fruit. Apply as you would any other cleaning solution, and blot away after a few minutes.

However, these homemade recipes are unlikely to allow you to get rid of significant dirt in the cabin, especially if there are unpleasant smells in addition to stains. Therefore, for deep cleaning (for example, before selling a car), it makes sense to book professional car interior cleaners. They have the necessary tools and experience to make your car saloon look like it's brand-new again.