No matter how shiny your freshly polished car – with a dirty, sticky and smelly interior, driving is no picnic. Making a real effort to upgrade the car inner space can be great fun. Read in this short manual about interior car detailing!
Less-than-ideal working space
The reason for endlessly postponing an interior car detailing lies in the awkward spatial conditions. A car interior is narrow, uncomfortably partitioned, made of many different materials and with many corners where dirt can build up. It all seems so useless – sooner or later, even the fanciest car is bound to turn into a sludge barge you’d rather not get in. The right thing to do is acting in a structured and systematic manner to fight the dirt.
Don’t forget: many roads lead to Rome ☺
The below steps serve as an example for you to vary and change to your own liking.
Interior car detailing – Get ready
For a profound interior car detailing you need:
– a bright, dry and clean space
– some tools
– a vacuum cleaner of at least 1500 and preferably 2000 Watt performance
– vacuum cleaner nozzles, the crevice tool, upholstery tool and the horsehair bristle nozzle.
– cloths, ideally microfibre cloths
– plastic cleaner
– plastic sealant
– glass cleaner
– optionally, leather cleaner
– soft hand brush
– optionally a tornador gun with compressor
– a table
For optimal coarse cleaning: clear out & take apart
The first step is clearing out the car completely: glove compartment and side pockets are emptied, all loose objects on the dashboard shelf are removed. After getting rid of all the junk, proceed with disassembly.
It may sound like a radical step; yet removing the seats for coarse cleaning makes sense. With seats out of the way additional space is created to reach the little corners normally hidden by driver and passenger seat. Put the seats on the table in order to have them at a convenient height for a profound separate cleaning afterwards.
Interior car detailing: Coarse cleaning with the vacuum cleaner
When the seats are removed and on the table, proceed with the vacuum cleaner with the standard nozzle. Then use the crevice cleaner to clean out all corners thoroughly.
Initially, footwell carpets are left in place for a first going-over with the vacuum cleaner. Not until the worst dirt is removed, the carpets are removed.
Now vacuum-clean the area under the mats. All door pockets and storage compartments are thoroughly cleaned with the crevice tool.
After the crevice tool, apply the horsehair bristle nozzle. This accessory is perfect for cleaning all switches and knobs on the doors and the dashboard. The horsehair prevents scratching the delicate plastic.
Ultimately the all mats and footwell carpets are deep-cleaned: the pet hair remover nozzle gets rid of even the most stubborn felting on carpets.
When the interior is done, it’s time for seats. Their removal allows for convenient cleaning. Stretch the folds to remove hidden dust traps.
Tip: if the footwell carpet is unsalvageable, making a new one is very easy. Remove the old carpet and use it as a template for a new piece. Cheap but adequate carpet remnants are available for a few bob at every home improvement shop. Simply cut out the new carpet piece with a stanley knife and it will fit seamlessly.
Systematic plastic care
The car interior plastic is subject to high temperature changes. Particularly the dasboard shelf catches a lot of UV radiation from the sunlight.
Additionally, daily use generates plenty of dust, causing the plastic surface to turn increasingly dull. This is where the plastic cleaner comes in handy. With a few squirts on the fibre cloth, spread the cleaner on the plastic surface and let it soak for a few seconds.
Subsequently, the cleaner is wiped away. After cleaning comes sealing with vinyl care agent. The dull grey turning into a rich black colour is bound to infect everybody with the interior cleaning virus.
The results are phenomenal: with a few flicks of the wrist, what looked like an unloved second-hand car is turned into a real eye catcher you love driving around in for hours on end.
Tip: Plastic parts include all rubber gaskets on doors and windows!
Interior car detailing: Cleaning the windows on the inside
Ultimately, the windows are cleaned. Proceed with care in order to prevent staining the freshly cleaned panels. Ideally all plastic panels are covered. In most cases it suffices holding a piece of cloth under the spray nozzle.
In new cars it can turn out to be a real challenge to reach all little corners on the inside windscreen. The accessory trade offers an extendable window cleaner. Be certain to use it if you really want to clean the entire windshield.
Soon forgotten: Pillars and headlining
The headlining and the the pillar covers are often smudged by loading and unloading the car. The way in which these elements are attached to fit sometimes complicates cleaning. The manufacturer Sonax has several interior care solutions available. An even wider choice can be found in the accessory trade.
Spray the stains and allow the detergent to soak. Now the stain can be adequately removed with the hand brush.
Now comes the important part: by only treating the dirty stains on the lining or the pillar cover, you will end up with a brighter spot. Therefore it is important to spray the entire surface with detergent and brush it out completely. This will cause an even and clean result.
Professional devices: tornador and steam cleaner for interior car detailing
First of all: the steam cleaner is not optimal for interior cleaning of your car. It can be used for windows, ceiling and carpet. Under no circumstances it should be used on the dashboard panel. Steam jets penetrating the switches are bound to cause circuitry malfunctions.
The tornador is standard equipment for professional car cleaners. This special tool is operated with a pressurized air compressor which must be additionally bought or rented.
Nevertheless, a tornador nozzle can cause impressive results, eradicating dirt from all surfaces. A tornador used in combination with a detergent guarantees most satisfactory and quick results. Whether or not it is worth the investment, is to be considered.
What use is a beautiful car when it smells unbearably? In case of persistent smells, investigating the cause is the only option.
The most common causes for a smelly interior are:
– penetrating moist, causing a rotting process
– an animal or food remnants rotting in a vent channel
– an ill-maintained air conditioning.
Causes for penetrating moist are
– the drain hole in the underbody
– clogged scuttle drainage
– leaking window and door rubbers.
The only option is searching until you have found the source. In case of the drain hole in the car underbody, the bad smell is often removed by replacing the carpet.
Air conditioning maintenance should be left to a garage, where the fluid level of the system can be corrected.
If the interior continues to smell unpleasantly despite removing all possible causes, there is a final weapon: the ozone treatment. Ozone is trivalent oxygen, radically attacking organic subtances, dissolving them.
In a garage an ozone treatment costs EUR 30 – 50 (±£27 – £45). The result is a fresh, nice smelling car you love to drive around in.
Foto: tem Podporin, Checubus, Monthira, Riga Azhar Firdausi, doogdeeg, Danny Skowronek, Andrey_Popov, Creativa Images, Vershinin89, FotoDuets, Saroj Khuendee, Dmitry Kalinovsky / shutterstock.com