How to clean your car's interior after a rough winter

Spring Cleaning for Your Car

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

Related Articles

Keeping Your Car Rust Free

Maintaining Used Car Value

Removing Smoke Smell from Your Car

Spring Cleaning for Car

All winter long my car looks terrible. I can take it to the car wash and have most, if not all, of the outside grime removed. But what's the best way to spring clean inside, such as the floor mats, carpeting and seats?

Vacuum and Shampoo Carpets

You can vacuum and shampoo the car's carpets. Use Pledge® on leather interior as well as the dashboards. Use non-ammonia glass cleaner on the windows inside and out. Try to have the car washed weekly and wax it at least twice a year.
Aaron from Texas

Thoroughly Clean Floor Mats

A rug cleaner that is used for pet accidents or even just the generic brand that you sprinkle in your rugs in your home is very good for car mats. They can be hosed down with a garden hose and dried in the sunshine. After drying, sprinkle carpet cleaner on the mats. Let this sit for awhile and then vacuum with a handheld vacuum or wet/dry vacuum. Windex® is good for interior car windows and upholstery, etc.
Debbie from Maryland

Clean It Yourself

When I can, I prefer to clean the inside and outside of my car myself at least once a year. While a car wash removes most of the grime, I do it better and wax by hand as well.

Start with the inside. Remove everything you store in your car, under the seats, in the glove compartment and in the trunk. Remove the floor mats.

Vacuum mats, seats, trunk, and floor. I use a stick broom with a crevice attachment. Car vacuums don't seem strong enough. You can go the extra mile and remove the trunk carpet and clean under it as well. A small paintbrush makes a good duster for air vents and small crevices.

Not an auto club member? Compare roadside assistance plans.

Now spray a good upholstery shampoo on the seats, rug, and mats. While they are drying, wash and wax the exterior of the car. Also wax doorsills and trunk sills. Then vacuum the car again to remove loosened dirt.

Sift through everything that has been stored in your car and remove all that is not really needed. When the car is dry inside, replace those items you want to keep in it.

Consider using a set of inexpensive clear plastic floor mats over the carpet mats for easier cleaning, especially in the winter.

Finally, smile! You've just detailed your car and saved a lot of money in the bargain.

Want to pay off your car faster? Consider refinancing into a lower auto rate.

Keeping a Clean Car Will Pay Off in End

Vacuum well and use a steam cleaner. Use about half of the recommended solution on cloth seats, mats, and rugs. I lay the mats on a previously cleaned garage floor to clean and then hang in the shade to dry.

I use plain old diluted white vinegar and crumpled newspaper for the windows.

For leather, I use spray furniture polish on a lint-free cloth. Do not spray directly on seats or dash and do not wipe the displays with the polish.

Then pull the car into a shady area and open the windows to let everything dry for several hours. I keep my car clean like this and have for the last three cars. I have the dealership calling every six months to see if I'm ready to trade yet. With a super clean car and low mileage (I live 22 miles from town so I make trips count), the previous two trades netted me $3k over the blue book value and my current six-year-old car still has the salesman calling.

Reviewed March 2017

Take the Next Step:

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Debt Book