Car Cleaning Tips: 8 Steps To Clean Your Car Interior Like A Pro

There is nothing like a brand clean car that smells fresh. We all love sparkling clean glass and a dazzling dashboard. But with time, dirt and dust start to make surfaces lose their shine and look dull. 

While some of us clean our cars often, we don't always spend much time cleaning the interior. We've put together a few steps on how to clean your car's interior and protect it.

8 Steps To Clean And Sanitise Your Car Interior

  1. Clear out the rubbish

  2. Clean the car's ventilation system

  3. Clean the dashboard

  4. Clean high touchpoints

  5. Clean the windows

  6. Clean the seats and doors

  7. Vacuum and clean the carpets

  8. Kill bacteria and viruses

Step 1: Clear Out the Rubbish

Before you start vacuuming mats or wiping the dashboard, make sure you get rid of any rubbish or unwanted items from your cabin. 

Pro tip: it's always a good idea to grab a couple of different bags for recyclables and other rubbish, so you don't have to sort it later.

Step 2: Clean the Car's Ventilation System

It's always a good idea to blast the dust out of your ventilation system. Especially if your car hasn't been driven in a while. To do so, close off all the air vents and turn the ignition. Set your fan to the highest speed and open each vent one at the time. Doing so will dislodge debris and dust stuck in the system. 

Pro tip: Use a flat screwdriver with a cloth wrapped around the end to reach dust in ventilation vents. 

Step 3: Clean the Dashboard

Dashboards tend to collect dust and fingerprints resulting in faded looks. Although there are many dashboard cleaning products in the market, a soap and water solution and a cloth can do the job. Avoid using other household cleaning products and scrubbing sponges as they can damage the surface.

If you want to protect your dashboard, use dedicated cleaning products as often they contain various natural and chemical elements that build a protective layer and keep your dash looking clean for longer. 

The infotainment screen can be a bit more complicated as it's an area that gets touched all the time. Screen wipes or a cloth with soap and water will do the trick to clean the screen. Wipe it dry with a clean cloth. Avoid using harsh chemicals on the infotainment screen, as they can damage the anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coatings. Using a microfibre cloth reduces the risk of damaging the screen. 

The switches in a car can contain delicate electronic components so avoid getting any moisture in them. Also, the clear plastic that covers the instrument dials can be prone to scratches so be very careful to avoid doing any damage.


Always clean your dashboard before vacuuming as any dust and debris you wipe off will fall on the floor. Just like cleaning the exterior, it's better to work from top to bottom, so the dirt you remove doesn't come back into contact with clean surfaces.

Pro tip: Use either a soft paintbrush or a new make-up brush to clean difficult to reach areas like the vents to remove dust. 

Step 4: Clean High Touchpoints

The surfaces that are most susceptible to contamination are the ones that you touch the most. That would be the steering wheel, your gearstick, the buttons on your dash, your centre console touchscreen and buttons, sun visor, and cup holders.

The best way to clean these is to use cleaning wipes, or a soft cloth and your chosen cleanser. Use microfibre for all your dashboard surfaces. Microfibre materials prevent dirt and debris from sticking to them, whereas paper towels and napkins might trap little pieces of dirt in their fibres, which may then scratch plastic and vinyl surfaces when you wipe them down. If you're using a cleaning product, spray it onto the cloth rather than directly onto the dashboard to avoid accidentally spraying on the windscreen.

Pro tip: Don't use any products on the steering wheel or pedals as it can make them slippery.

Step 5: Clean the Windows

Keeping the glass inside the car clean is almost as important as cleaning the outside. Marks like dust, smears and fingerprints can reduce visibility and lead to dangerous dazzle when it's sunny. By using a quality cleaning product, you can expect a clean finish without streaks for excellent visibility.

To clean inside the windows, spray some glass cleaner on a soft cloth and apply to the window using a figure of eight motion.

It's best to clean the windows after you do the dashboard, as dirt and debris can quickly transfer on to glass surfaces when you're cleaning the centre console.

Step 6: Clean the Seats and Doors

The seats and furnishings in the cabin get a lot of exposure to wear and tear, and can be subjected to lots of dirt and stains. You can use household upholstery cleaning products and a brush to remove dried-on dirt. To work through harder stains, use an intensive cleaning formula to lift stains and odours from interior fabrics.

For leather surfaces, use special cleaners to remove dirt and marks, before treating the material with leather protection cream. Using special leather cleaner will protect the surface and help to prevent wear.

Pro tip: Use a soft bristle vacuuming brush to protect the fibre of your upholstery seats.

Step 7: Vacuum and Clean the Carpets

Once you've worked your way down to the carpets, you're ready to vacuum up all the dust and dirt. A household vacuum works well. However, you can also pick up a portable vacuum with specialised heads and attachments that could help with dry and wet cleaning. It can be worth investing in a handheld vacuum to use in the car to avoid the hassle of bringing the household one outside.

When vacuuming the carpet, use a soft brush head tool and a lifting action to remove stubborn ground-in dirt. Avoid scrubbing as this can damage the fibres of the carpet.

After vacuuming carpets and removing all the dirt and debris, use the carpet cleaning products to freshen up the fibres. Use a rubber brush to remove stubborn dirt and leave your carpets feeling and smelling fresh.

Pro tip: Make sure you remove the car mats and boot liner, too, as lots of dirt and debris can collect beneath these.

Step 8: Kill Bacteria and Viruses

No matter how clean and tidy your car looks daily, it is always a good idea to give some extra cleaning to get rid of germs, bacteria and viruses. 

Soap is the most effective measure against the viruses, and we're reminded of its effectiveness every day when we wash our hands. The reason that soap works so effectively on the virus is the same reason that soap can wash oils away. Soap can tear away this outer lipid shell, which deactivates viruses and kills bacteria. A soap and warm water solution creates suds and bubbles that prevent the viruses from sticking to surfaces and improving the sanitising capacity of soap. Soap doesn't harm dashboards, windows, fabric or leather car seats. Just don't scrub your car seats too hard, or you risk damaging them through friction.

While most common household disinfectants are useful, some are not ideal for use on a vehicle including bleach, hydrogen peroxide, benzene, thinners or other harsh and abrasive cleaners. These chemical products can damage your vehicle's upholstery and interior surfaces. Instead, alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol are effective against the coronavirus and can be safely used in your vehicle.

Alcohol is an effective weapon against bacteria and viruses. A solution of isopropyl alcohol with a concentration between 60 and 90% will kill the coronavirus within seconds, denaturing the proteins that make up the virus molecules.

Alcohol is often used by car interior part makers to clean their products, and it can be used to safely clean most surfaces without damaging them. However, if you have leather car seats, you should avoid alcohol, as frequent alcohol cleaning may harm your seats' finish.

Disinfectant wipes or sprays are very effective in defeating virus contamination on almost any surface. They're safe to use on car interior surfaces, but make sure you don't miss a spot! These disinfectants are only effective on the exact places where they're applied.

Disinfectant sprays are useful for surfaces that can't be wiped down, such as the carpet or the upholstery. You can use a spray to cover large surfaces, and it can be used on both the inside and outside. Normally, you should leave the spray to dry before using the disinfected area but, in case you are using it on sensitive surfaces, you can use a paper towel to wipe the surface down.

If you love your car, remember to take care of the interior too. Getting this right will help you to restore and maintain the cabin to the feeling of a brand new car.