Detailing Car Interior

The COVID lockdown has given me a lot of time to ponder. I’ve always wondered the amount of work that goes into detailing a car. I normally have it detailed by a local professional but given all the free time, I took it upon myself to learn about the detailing world and in the process managed to detail my own car’s interior.

Just like any other research I would undertake, I started with soaking in knowledge from detailer’s around the world by watching countless hours of YouTube videos and reading tons of how to guides to create a summary that answers the following main questions:

  • Where do you start and what do you proceed to next?
  • How do you clean and protect different types of interior surfaces?
  • What products to use?

This is not a be all end all article, it’s something that worked for me. Please feel free to borrow this knowledge and apply it however you see fit for your vehicle.

The cleaning steps

This section talks about the order of cleaning your interior. How to clean something depends on the surface/material type, which will be covered in the next section.

  1. Prepare a very good playlist, this can take up to 4 hours
  2. Remove all the items from the car, bag it separately if necessary
  3. Take the mats out, wash them and let them dry outside
  4. Dust and vacuum the interior
  5. Clean the door jambs and sills (front, back and boot)
  6. Spot clean the headliner
  7. Clean the seats & apply protectant
  8. Clean the steering wheel & apply protectant
  9. Clean the leather trims & apply protectant
  10. Clean the plastic/rubber/vinyl trims & apply protectant
  11. Clean the fabric areas (floors/trims) & apply protectant (incl. mats drying outside)
  12. Put the mats back into the car
  13. Give it a fresh smell
  14. Clean the glass

The how-to guide

Dusting the interior

  • Dust from top to bottom
  • Use a Detailer’s Brush with a vacuum cleaner while dusting
  • Use Cyber Clean, a gel compound, for removing dust from infotainment screen and sensitive trims to avoid scratching the surface with brush

Cleaning door jambs and sills

  • Spray All-purpose Cleaner on the surface area
  • Scrub and wipe it clean with a clean Microfiber Cloth
  • Tip: If there scuff marks, use Mr Clean Magic Eraser

Spot cleaning headliner

  • Spray Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner on the tip of a Detailer’s Brush
  • Apply it on the spot softly
  • Wipe away the excess with a clean Microfiber Cloth

Cleaning fabric

  • Spray Carpet & Fabric Cleaner on the area
  • Scrub the mat with Fabric Cleaning Brush
  • Wipe away the excess with a clean Microfiber Drying Towel
  • If there is still excess moisture:
    • Use a Wet/Dry vacuum in Wet mode, or
    • Use a Blow Dryer, or
    • Use a standing Fan, or
    • Leave the windows open if the weather permits, or
    • Fill a sock full of rice/cat litter and place it on the wet area (might take few days to dry)

Protecting fabric

  • Spray a light mist of Fabric Protectant on the surface area
  • Let it dry in

Cleaning leather

  • Work from top to bottom
  • Spray Leather Cleaner on a Microfiber Cloth
  • Softly scrub the leather surface
  • Wipe away the excess with a clean Microfiber Cloth

Protecting leather

  • Spray Leather Protectant on to the Microfiber Applicator Pad
  • Gently apply the product on the leather surface

Cleaning Interior Trims (Plastic & Vinyl & Rubber)

  • Spray All-purpose Cleaner on the Microfiber Cloth
  • Scrub the surface
  • For those hard to get areas use a Detailer’s Brush

If there scuff marks:

  • Spray use All-purpose Cleaner on the Mr Clean Magic Eraser
  • Gently scrub the area
  • Wipe away the excess with a clean Microfiber Cloth

Protecting Interior Trims (Plastic & Vinyl & Rubber)

  • Spray the Interior Protectant on the Microfiber Applicator Pad
  • Apply on the surface area

Freshen the smell

  • Turn AC on full blast in Air circulation mode
  • Close the windows
  • Spray the air freshener near the air vents in the footwells
  • Let it run through the system for about 10 minutes.

Cleaning the glass

  • Spray the All-purpose Cleaner on the Mr Clean Magic Eraser
  • Gently scrub the glass with the magic eraser
  • Wipe away the excess with a clean Microfiber Drying Towel
  • Spray Spray Wax on to a clean Microfiber Cloth
  • Wipe the glass

Products

I’ve tried to stick to locally available top-rated popular brands but you are free to choose whatever works for you.

The Air Freshener and the Microfiber Applicator Pads are single use items however other items can last for few at least 3 interior cleans.

Products for general cleaning

All-purpose Cleaner x1 Repco
Meguiar’s Heavy Duty 710ml
$12.34
Cyber Clean Gel x1 Ebay
Cyber Clean Home and Office 160g Tub
$29.99
Detailer’s Brush x1 Super Cheap Auto
SCA Detailers Brush 3 Piece
$9.99
Mr Clean Magic Eraser x1 Bunnings
Eraser Pads 4 Pack
$6.93
Microfiber Cloth x2 Repco
Repco Eclipse Cloth 370GSM ($4.75 each)
$9.50
Microfiber Drying Towel x1 Repco
Meguiar’s Supreme Shine Drying Towel
$19.79
Microfiber Applicator Pad x1 Repco
Meguiar’s Hand Applicator Pad Twin Pack
$4.09

Products for Plastic & Vinyl & Rubber

Trims Protector x1 Repco
Meguiar’s New Car Protectant 473ml
$15.59

Products for Fabric

Carpet & Fabric Cleaner x1 Repco
Meguiar’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
$16.27
Fabric Cleaning Brush x1 Cleaner comes with a brush
Fabric Protectant x1
(Stain/Water/UV Resistant)
Super Cheap Auto
SCA Fabric Protector Can 400g
$12.49

Products for Leather

Leather Cleaner x1 Super Cheap Auto
Oakwood Leather Care Pack $29.99
$29.99
Leather Protectant x1 Comes in the leather care pack

Products for Glass

Spray Wax x1 Repco
Meguiar’s Ceramic Spray Wax 768ml
$30.54

Products for Fresh Smell

Air Freshener x1 Repco
Meguiar’s Air Re-Fresher Black Chrome
$18.84

 

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