After a few weeks of summer holidays, it’s easy to clog up your car with mess. Even though most drivers are onto it when it comes to cleaning their car exterior, it can be easy to forget that your car interior can get dirty too. For some easy to follow tips on cleaning out your car interior, read on.

Cleaning tools

Before you start the job, make sure you have a few key tools on hand.

  1. Cleaning products: household cleaning products such as carpet shampoo or leather cleaner can generally work on car interiors. If not, get products which are safe to use on your interior surfaces.
  2.  Wiping and polishing cloths: microfiber cloths are ideal and can be bought at any supermarket
  3. Brushes: unlike the exterior of a car, the interior has plenty of nooks and crannies that can gather dust or dirt. Different brush sizes are essential for cleaning these out.
  4. Vacuum cleaner: a household vacuum cleaner will be best for the job because you’ll need plenty of suction to clear the dust and dirt out of carpet fibers.

Clear out the rubbish

Getting rid of all of the stuff you have accumulated in your car over the months will make your car feel like a completely different space. Go through your glove box, center console, the trunk, under the seats and anywhere else you might have loose items lying around and remove them from the vehicle. Now might also be a good time to throw out any garbage you find amongst the things you need in your vehicle.

Floors and carpets

The carpets and mats in your car are probably the dirtiest part of your interior. If the rest of your car isn’t too dirty, you can start here. If the entire car needs a heavy clean though, this can wait until the end.

Remove your floor mats and give them a shake to remove dirt and debris. After this, use your vacuum cleaner to get rid of stubborn dirt. If your floor mats are still not clean, a jet of water should clean them up – just make sure you allow them to dry completely before they go back into your car.

For the carpet itself, use a vacuum with a brush attachment for an initial clean. If your carpet is stained, a steam cleaning machine can be used for a deep clean – most times a domestic carpet product should do the job.


Most car seats fit into one of three categories: leather, vinyl or cloth. The way you clean your seats depends on which upholstery you have. Regardless of the different upholstery though, you should start by vacuuming the seats to get rid of as much dirt as you can.

  1. Leather seats: over time, dirt can get embedded in the grained surface of leather. Use leather polish and a soft cloth or towel to get the dirt out, and then use a microfiber cloth to dry off the leather. After a few hours, apply a leather conditioner to return the leather to its original condition.
  2. Vinyl seats: most household products should work to clean vinyl seats – use one cloth to apply the product and another cloth to dry the seat.
  3. Cloth seats: the strength of the cleaning product you have to use depends on the amount of soiling – but keep in mind that the more liquid you use, the longer your seats will take to dry out. If the seats smell musty and damp, sprinkle some baking soda on them overnight then vacuum off, and your seats should smell brand new!
  4. Windows and mirrors. If your windows and mirrors haven’t been tinted, a regular glass cleaner product and microfiber cloth will be sufficient. Tint coatings can be affected by products in household cleaning products so it’s best to use a car glass cleaner. Always remember to spray your cleaner on your cloth and not the glass to avoid streaking.

Interior panels

  1. Dashboard: use a vacuum cleaner with a thin nozzle attachment to get as much dust out as possible, and then follow up with a soft cloth to get to the edge of where the dashboard meets the window glass.
  2. Console: the buttons and controls on the console can be incredibly difficult to clean out. To get around this, try wrapping a cloth around a flat-head screwdriver. As a last resort however, cotton swabs can be used to clean out small spaces.
  3. Air vents: long, thin brushes are ideal for getting into air vents. If you have compressed air on hand, it can also be used to remove debris that has accumulated over time.
  4. Door panels: the door panels can get extremely dirty due to things like cup holders. A damp cloth should be enough to clean out these areas.


Although nothing beats a new car smell, after a few months and lots of travelling, that smell fades away. Car deodorizes can mask the smell but won’t get rid of any underlying odours. A cost efficient way to suck up the bad smells in your car is to cut some holes in an old plastic container and fill it with ordinary lump charcoal. Charcoal will absorb any odours, rather than just hiding it.

Once you’ve cleaned your car interior thoroughly, you can probably make it around six months before needing another clean. Getting into the habit of regular car cleaning can save you from the hassle of having to clear out a smelly and dirty vehicle, and will also help you keep your car in top shape.