How to clean car interior: Use this illustrated checklist

How to clean car interior: This illustrated checklist gives you all you need to clean you vehicle’s interior hustle free.

How to clean car interior: Vacuuming

Vacuuming a carpetRemove the floor mats. Vacuum the seats and the carpet. Using the proper attachment, reach under the seats, around the pedals and the area between the front seats and the center console. Vacuum floor mats separately.
Vacuuming a dashUse a soft brush attachment to vacuum the dashboard, center console and the doors. Be careful not to damage knobs, vents and sticking parts. Use the same attachment vacuuming the seats. Leather seats are very easy to damage, be careful no to scratch them with the vacuum hose.

How to clean car interior: Cleaning fabric seats and door upholstery

Cleaning fabric seatsLet’s see how we can clean this dirty spot on the rear seat.
Cleaning fabric seatsThere are number of upholstery cleaning agents available. Here I used the Turtle Wax upholstery cleaner, but other products can work as well.
The first step, spray the cleaner evenly on the upholstery.
Cleaning fabric seatsRub vigorously. Once the dirty spot is gone, wipe it thoroughly with a dry soft cloth.
Cleaning fabric seatsThe dirty spot is gone. You can clean all the seats and door upholstery the same way, working one area at the time. If you don’t have a special upholstery cleaner, a regular laundry detergent will work as well: Mix a small amount of the detergent with warm water. Dip a clean cloth into it. Squeeze out well – you want a barely moist cloth. Work harder on dirty areas. When finished, wipe out well with a clean, soft dry cloth.

How to clean car interior: Cleaning car leather

A car leather is very delicate, so it’s best to use a good product specially formulated for cleaning leather seats. Some leather care products make the leather more shiny or slippery. Other products can make it sticky or tacky, so before using it, test a product in a small area to see if you like it. Don’t use paper towels on leather, they can leave scratches; use a soft clean cotton towel instead.

Cleaning leather-wrapped steering wheelBe careful with the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob as some of the leather care products can make them slippery or sticky. I personally don’t use any products on my steering wheel and a shifter knob, I just clean them with clean and barely moist cotton towel. If you use any leather care products on your steering wheel, make sure that it is not slippery before you drive.
Cleaning car leather seatsVacuum leather seat crevices with the soft brush attachment – be careful, as the vacuum hose can easily scratch the leather.
Cleaning car leather seatsSpray some leather cleaner agent on the soft clean cotton towel.
Cleaning car leather seatsWipe the seat gently, reaching into crevices and around the edges.
Here I used a two-in-one leather cleaner/conditioner. If you have just a cleaner, apply a conditioner later to protect the leather.

How to clean car interior: Cleaning the carpet

Cleaning the carpetYou can clean the carpet the same way you cleaned the fabric seats and upholstery. The laundry detergent solution will work on the carpet as well.
Cleaning the carpetWork on one area at the time. Spray the carpet cleaner evenly.
Cleaning the carpetRub well. If your cleaner has a brush on it, you can use it on really dirty areas.
Cleaning the carpetWhen done, wipe it thoroughly with a dry cloth.
Cleaning the carpetAgain, don’t soak the carpet with water too much, it will cause mould smell and corrosion under the carpet. Dry it out as fast as you can.

How to clean car interior: Cleaning and polishing the dashboard and interior plastic

Polishing the dashboard and interior plasticClean the dashboard, center console and other plastic parts with a barely moist clean cloth. Use a very small amount of laundry detergent to remove the stains. Dry with a clean soft dry cloth. To make it shiny, use a polish for plastic.
Polishing the dashboard and interior plasticSpray a little amount of polish. Spread it evenly with a soft brush. Don’t spray directly on the stereo, or other electrical parts, use a brush instead.
Polishing the dashboard and interior plasticBuff gently with a clean soft dry cloth.
Polishing the dashboard and interior plasticThis is how it looked before and after polishing. If you prefer the dashboard and the plastic looking less shiny and more natural, there is a number of products that can do that. For example, I like the Meguiar’s Natural Shine that makes the plastic look more natural.
Polishing the dashboard and interior plasticA good polish not only makes the dashboard look clean and shiny, it shields and protects the plastic. All you need to do after, just use a soft duster periodically and your dashboard will look like new for a long time.

Cleaning the windows

Cleaning car windowsLastly, clean all the windows from the outside and inside. A window-cleaning spray and glass-cleaning towel will do a good job. Be careful when cleaning the rear window from the inside – the heating lines of the defogger grid are easy to damage. Use parallel to defogger lines motion.

How to get rid of musty smell from the air conditioner

A/C treatment sprayIf you experience that unpleasant musty smell from the vents when the air conditioner is turned on, you can try one of the odor treatment that you can buy in your local auto parts store. It kills the bacteria and removes the mildew smell. Here we used the Air Conditioner Treatment from Wynn’s that you simply spray into outside air intake vent (check the directions on the product).
Leaves on the cowl panelA clogged air conditioner drain tube and accumulation of leaves and other debris under the cowl panel also may cause a damp mildew smell. Clean the debris and ask the mechanic to check the air conditioner drain tube when you do your next oil change. The drain tube is usually located under the car on a passenger side, near the firewall.
Dirty cabin filterOne part that is often gets neglected is the cabin air filter. After a while it gets clogged up with dust, leaves and other debris, so instead of fresh air, you have to breathe with whatever accumulated on the cabin filter. Do you want to see how to replace the cabin filter?

Many cars have a cabin air filter that filters outside air coming into the cabin. A cabin air filter is recommended to be replaced every 12 months or 10,000-15,000 miles (16,000 – 24,000 km).
Signs of a clogged up cabin air filter include reduced air flow and bad odor coming from the air vents.
A cabin air filter clogs up faster if your car is parked under trees or if you drive on unpaved roads.
In some cars a cabin filter is easy to replace, in others, it’s better to let your dealer have it replaced it for you. Here we are replacing the cabin filter in the 2009 Toyota Corolla:

Replacing the cabin filter in the 2009-2013 Toyota Corolla

Changing cabin air filter step oneIn this car, Toyota made it very simple and provided the instructions in the owner’s manual; it is a fairly easy task.
Changing cabin air filter step twoThe first step, as per this manual is turn the engine OFF; of course, we don’t need it running. The next step, open the glove box, locate the damper and slide it off.
Changing cabin air filter step threeNow, the manual says push in each side of the glove box to disconnect the claws. What it means is there are two claws sticking out on each side (see the next photo); to pass them out of the glove box opening, you need to squeeze the glove box gently from each side.
Changing cabin air filter step fourHere you can see the claws we are talking about.
Changing cabin air filter step fiveHere is what we got behind the glove box. Click on the photo to see the larger image.
Changing cabin air filter step sixThis is easy: remove the filter cover.
Changing cabin air filter step sevenPull the old filter out carefully, as it might be filled with leaves and other debris. This one looks dirty.
Changing cabin air filter step eightHere is the new cabin air filter we bought from a Toyota dealer.
Changing cabin air filter step nineAll we need now, is to install everything back in the reverse order. Make sure install the filter the right way. This manual says The “↑UP” marks shown on the filter should be pointing up. Slide the filter back carefully; check if the cover closes properly.
Changing cabin air filter step tenAgain, push in each side to make the claws go back in.
Changing cabin air filter step elevenLastly, push the damper back into its place. Done.

If you want to better filter out odors, you can buy an activated charcoal cabin air filter that better absorbs various smells. We have tried it, it does work better.


READ MORE: Top 10 most expensive presidential cars in the world

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