How to clean your car: exterior, interior and seats
There is nothing better than a fresh, clean car. But how do you clean your car yourself, without going to a professional? Despite the many benefits of getting your car professionally detailed, there’s also plenty you can do to save money, all from the comfort of your driveway.
In this DIY car servicing article, we take you through the essential steps you need to take to achieve a showroom shine. We also list all the tools you need to make your car sparkle, as well as our best car cleaning tips. So, if you want to know how to clean a car, including how to clean car seats and how to clean the inside of your car, then keep reading.
How to clean your car’s interior
Whether you’re planning on storing your car away for a while, or just fancy making it look spic and span, cleaning your car’s interior is a good starting point. To do so, you will need the following:
a microfibre cloth
cleaning solution (leather-friendly if required)
a vacuum cleaner.
The first step of cleaning the inside of your car is to clear your car of rubbish and unnecessary items. Keeping it clear isn’t just important in terms of hygiene, but safety too – rubbish should never accumulate near the driver’s floorboard or dashboard.
Next, clean the interior surfaces. Always spray your cleaner of choice onto your cloth, rather than directly onto the dashboard. This technique will avoid accidently spraying liquid into gaps where it is at risk of leaking into your car’s internal systems.
We recommend working from the cleanest areas to the dirtiest, in order work as effectively as possible. Wipe down your dashboard first, as any dust it has collected will fall onto the floor for you to hoover away later.
We don’t recommend using products on your wheel, handbrake, gear knob or pedals, unless necessary. Wiping those areas down with a clean microfibre cloth is sufficient and won’t risk making those surfaces dangerously slippery.
How to clean the inside of your car’s windscreen and windows
Cleaning the inside of your car’s windscreen and windows should be your next step. Interior windows should be cleaned regularly with glass cleaner, using a clean microfiber cloth to ensure maximum clarity.
How to clean car carpets
When cleaning your car’s carpet, make sure that, before hoovering, you remove floor mats from the car and shake them clean outside. If they are visually dirty, hose them down and leave them to dry outside. If you have carpet, simply hoover the fabric. For those tough-to-reach areas, remember to move your seats backwards.
How to clean car seats
The best way to clean car seats, both leather and fabric, is to make sure you hoover the seats before you clean them using the appropriate cleaning product for your car’s upholstery.
One thing to note: before you use any products on the fabric of your car seats, make sure you check their suitability to avoid fabric damage. For instance, if you are ever unsure how to clean leather car seats, you must use the appropriate cleaner and conditioner to make sure the leather does not crack. If you are not sure how to clean fabric car seats, check your vehicle’s manual for any listed approved cleaning products.
How to clean car seat stains
If you have any tough stains on your car seats, you can use stain remover to tackle the marks. However, stain removers tend to use harsh chemicals, so make sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.
How to clean the exterior of your car
To clean your car’s exterior, you will need:
two buckets of water
a garden hose or pressure washer
your preferred car shampoo
Always use one bucket with water for rinsing, and one for soap. Using two buckets will reduce the possibility of swirl marks and grit scratches.
Firstly, clean your wheels. Your alloys or wheel covers are most likely the dirtiest part of your car as they come into closest contact with the road. They will be covered in dust which could scratch or tarnish clean parts of your car if you leave them till last. While we recommend using a pressure washer, a good garden hose will do the trick. You can also use a wheel cleaner and a brush to further dislodge dirt. Once finished, discard the dirty buckets of water, refill them, then thoroughly rinse the washcloth with your hose, making sure to remove any dirt or grit.
Next, we recommend giving your car a good rinse. This pre-rinse is vital to remove any clumps of dirt that could potentially scratch your paintwork. Using water, start from the top and work your way downwards to the body of the car and then the panel gaps. This will loosen dirt and will make things easier when you wash the car properly.
Wash your car again from top to bottom using your car shampoo in one bucket, and clean water in the other – making sure to frequently rinse your cloth. Wipe your car with even, lateral motions as circular movements will create swirl smears and smudges. It’s important that you make sure there is no soap residue remaining on the vehicle when you’re finished washing.
How to clean car window exteriors
Similarly, the best way to clean the exterior surfaces of car windows is to use the top to bottom technique, with sideways movements, using a clean microfiber cloth and window cleaner.
How to dry your car
Finally, we recommend drying your car yourself, rather than leaving your vehicle to airdry. Use a dry and clean microfibre cloth ensure there are no remaining droplets of water. When your vehicle is completely dry it should have no visible water marks or streaks.
If you’re wondering, “how often should I clean my car”, we suggest car deep cleaning every few months and cleaning your car interior on a regular basis. Keeping your car clean not only protects your car’s value, but also means that you keep your car safer and healthier in the long run.
Fancy some further DIY car maintenance? Our advice hub has all the information you need to become a Master of Maintenance, and our Lub advisor will help you further understand the lubricants and fluids your vehicle needs. As always, you can contact our experts if you have any queries.