Dick Lovett

How to clean your car's interior

Posted 8th April 2020

We’ve told you how to wash your car correctly, but a clean interior is just as important, especially during current times. There are germ hotspots in your car's interior such as the gear stick and steering wheel so it's easy to understand why it's important to keep your interior clean and as germ free as you can. 

Clean 2

Think about it, each time you use your car, you touch these areas. What's more, you’ve probably visited a drive-thru recently and eaten with your hands - the same hands you've touched the fuel pump with, touched the supermarket trolley with, touched your phone with.. the list goes on. Each time you use your car, you introduce potentially harmful germs which can easily be limited.

Here's our guide to the perfect interior clean - you will need:

  • Vacuum
  • Rubbish bag / recycling box
  • Interior cleaning products
  • Glass cleaner
  • Interior brush
  • Microfibre towels
  • 2 Waffle weave towels 

Step 1: Declutter

Start by removing any large items such as bags, books, children's toys then follow up by removing any junk - empty bottles, food wrappers, coffee cups etc. Be sure to always separate rubbish from items that can be recycled.

Next take the carpet mats out (if you have them). Try lifting them out flat so that any debris stays on them, this will save you time when vacuuming the inside.

Step 2: Get Cleaning

It may seem odd to start wiping things down before the vacuum process, but it does make sense. When cleaning the interior, you need to be inside of the car, therefore therefore any dirt on your shoes / feet won’t affect the already dirty carpets, plus any dust from wiping will fall down to vacuum later.

You should use dedicated car interior cleaners. These are often safe to use on all types of interior from plastic, to vinyl and rubber however it's best to check the cleaners description before use. 

The Dashboard 


You should start by moistening a microfibre towel with your interior cleaner then wipe back and forth over the dash until the area is free from dust and looks clean. Don’t spray directly onto the dash as you will cause over spray forcing you to have to clean areas that may have not needed attention. You will also cause the cleaner to go onto the windscreen, although harmless, it just means it will cause you extra work when cleaning the inside of the glass. 

Centre console / gear stick 

Similar to the dashboard, do not directly spray the centre console. You can use an interior brush here to help agitate any stains. Simply wipe over the area, removing dust and debris. You may find a light vacuum here is useful to remove any larger objects such as crumbs. 

Don't forget to clean over radio / climate controls with a damp cloth - do not soak the area as you may harm the electrics. 


Your gear stick is also here - sometimes gear stick’s can appear shiny or worn. The likelihood is, it just needs a good clean. Leather naturally has a matte finish therefore if your gear stick is shiny or appears worn, it’s probably covered in oils and grease from use over time. This also means it's covered in bacteria and germs which you are touching every time you use the car. 

Spray the interior cleaner directly into an interior brush and begin working the cleaner onto and around the gear stick. Once you have gone round the area, wipe with a microfibre cloth and inspect the gear stick - you may find that you have to repeat this a few times to get all the gunk off.  It should appear clean and have a matte finish by the time you are done.

Gear Stick

Steering wheel / stalks

Steering wheels are often covered with leather. As mentioned above, leather is naturally matte so if your steering wheel is shiny or worn, it's likely it's clogged up with grime and oils and again, a hotspot for bacteria and germs. Use the same technique as for the gear stick, spray cleaner directly into an interior brush and agitate around the wheel. You may find that dampening a microfibre towel and twisting back and forth around the wheel may be better depending on how ‘dirty’ it appears. Your steering wheel should appear matte when you have finished.


Don’t forget to wipe over the indicator / wiper stalks, paying close attention to the ends as these are area’s likely to get dirty. 

Door panels / buttons

Finish wiping down by wiping down the door panels including handles and any buttons for the windows, mirrors, etc.

Clean the glass

Some like to leave this step till last, however you should do it whilst the interior is still dirty so you aren't tracing dirt in a freshly vacuumed car. You should use a glass cleaner here as they are designed for … glass. Grab your two waffle weave towels and lightly spray one. Next, wipe over the inside of the window and follow up with your dry waffle weave towel. This will ensure a streak free finish and won't leave behind tiny fibres like a normal microfibre towel would. 

If your windows are after market tinted be careful of using glass cleaner with ammonia in it as it can damage the film.

It's important to keep your glass clean so you have maximum visibility at all times. If not clear and you are involved in an accident, you could be charged with careless driving which can leave you with a fine of up to £5,000 depending on how serious it is, so it's worth the extra 5 minutes cleaning to avoid this. 


Up until now the vacuum hasn't seen much use however, to clean and protect the seats you need to vacuum any debris / crumbs. Start with the headrest, working your way down the seat. Pull apart any creases to ensure that you are able to access any larger bits of debris. If your seat has an extender, make sure to pull this out and vacuum between the gap. 

IMG 1648 2

If your seats are leather, depending on use they may appear stained or shiny. Use leather cleaner to clean the seats, agitate and wipe off. Allow a few moments for the leather to dry then apply leather feed or conditioner. Leather conditioner will keep the leather moist which prevents cracking - ageing the seats, while also providing UV protection to maintain the colour. It can also help limit staining from jeans and other materials if your seats are cream coloured.

Step 3: Vacuum carpet / foot wells / boot

Next focus on the vacuuming the carpet and foot wells. The drivers foot well is likely to be the dirtiest so this will take slightly longer than the rest. Vacuum up any dirt and debris - make sure to vacuum under the front seats and down the side of the rails, sliding the seat back and forth may make it easier. 

Shake any loose dirt off the floor mats you removed earlier and proceed to vacuum them and place them back inside the car. Finish by vacuuming out the boot, this is likely to have larger bits of debris.

If you find any stains whilst vacuuming, you can use a dedicated interior shampoo. Just spray on and agitate with an interior brush. Take care not to get the carpet / fabric too wet as this can promote the growth of mould. Blot dry with a microfibre towel. 

Step 4: Finishing touches

If you want to go that extra step further, and be slightly OCD you can apply stripes to the carpet mats, this is what professional valeters do. Use a nail brush and swipe the carpet one way, then swipe the other way, the fibres direction will create the different shades.


Replace the stale air freshener you have with a new one, not only does this smell great, it will prove your car is looked after.

Finally do a once over of the car, ensuring that all handles and hotspots have been wiped over. It's always handy to leave antibacterial wipes or hand sanitiser in the glove box if you are going shopping or considering a drive-thru meal.

When was the last time you cleaned your interior?

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