How to Detailing Your Car Interior Cleaning . Protecting .dressing your leather, fabric, carpets PLASTICS and more

You spend most of your time sitting and looking at the inside of your car, so it's a good idea to keep it clean and to protect the interior surfaces.

We can teach you how, and by adopting certain techniques, you can clean, protect and maintain your interior surfaces in a simple and effective way. We can advise you about using expensive, machinery, and also less expensive cleaning methods, which can offer good results.

Let’s Start.

Dusting & Vacuuming

Step 1.

Remove all the carpets or rubber mats from the car, Carpet mats will need to be vacuumed. We will talk about the effective techniques to remove stains latter.

At this step it is advisable to remove anything that will get in the way of cleaning and dispose of any rubbish.

Step 2

Now the car is empty if you have access to a compressed air blower you can use this to blow the dirt or dust off the seats , dashboard and other parts, pay close attention to panel gaps where dirt and dust get trapped. We recommend using a sash brush to help loosen the dust front the vents.

If you don’t have a compressed air blower then don't worry, you can use a sash brush and vacuum just as effectively.

Step 3

Use a crevice tool to clean and vacuum the carpet or upholstery. Work methodically around the car, moving seats forward and back. Move the headrests up, fold the back seats down and check to ensure nothing is missed. The headlining may need vacuuming this can also help remove some dried marks as well.

Remove the mat so you can thoroughly vacuum the area

Use the sash brush to dust the interior surfaces, follow closely with the vacuum to remove the dirt or use the soft upholstery brushes that come with your vacuum.

If you have small bits trapped in the pile that won't vacuum out, use a medium to stiff brush. Brush the carpet or fabric thoroughly and then vacuum again, this should loosen the dirt so that you can remove it easily. You can also use a compressed air blower to help as well, doing this really makes the carpets look like new, after loosening the dirt, re-vacuum the surface thoroughly.

If your car has pet hair over the interior, this can often be quite hard to remove. We advise using a rubber brush to help loosen the hair as this will make it easier to vacuum up.

Rubber Mat Cleaning & Dressing

Firstly remove them from the car and shake them to remove any loose dirt.

Place them on the floor, rinse with a presser washer or hose. Rinse thoroughly then use an ‘All Purpose Cleaner’ (APC) and a brush to thoroughly clean them. We find that it is best to use a medium to stiff brush. Brush thoroughly, in an up and down motion, then side to side to ensure no dirt can be missed. Rinse immediately, do not let the APC dry on the mats.

For Best Results

results shake off the excess water and dry with a damp micro fibre towel. Using an air blower or compressor will have the same result. Remember to wipe the back of the mats so they are clean and dry. Once the mats are completely dry place back in the car.

Dressing The Mat

If your rubber mats are looking a little dull then you may want to use a silicon free dressing on the mats to enhance their appearance and protect them. Please note that this treatment may make the mats slippery. To help prevent this you should wipe the surface with a damp microfiber towel to remove the and excess.

The more silicon free dressing you apply the more likely it is to be slippery, so try to apply as little as possible to the surface.You should apply the product with a sponge or paint brush and the drivers side foot mat should be buffed with a dry micro fibre towel to remove any excess product. If the surface remains slippery use a damp micro fibre towel to help remove more of the product.

If the mat remains slippery repeat the cleaning process to remove the silicon-free product, as safety is more important than the appearance of the mat.


Don't leave the mats to dry with pools of water over them as they are likely to leave water marks, especially if you leave them in direct sunlight.

Always check the back of the mats for any dirt to avoid contaminating the carpet when the mats are replaced.

Never use a solvent or silicon based product to dress your mats.

For really dirty mats use a product like ‘Meguiars Super Degreaser’ use 4:1 instead of APC to clean the rubber mats.

For dirty mats use Meguiars Super Degreaser or for normal to light dirt,use Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner

Important For Safety

Lastly, and most importantly, For safety reasons, we do do not recommend dressing the drivers side mat, in case it becomes slippery.

Fabric & Carpet Cleaning

Step 4 (optional)

If you have some stains which you would like to remove, or you just want to freshen up your fabrics and carpets. There are three main methods to choose from.

1. Hand clean method. This is the most simple and doesn't use any machinery.

2. Steam clean method. This involves using a steam cleaner to clean and sanitize the carpets and fabrics. It is also an effective method for killing odours.

3. Machine method. This is the most effective method, but as its name suggests it requires the use of a carpet cleaning machine. It will suck away any dirt from deep within the pile which the first two methods can't do, leaving your carpets really clean and fresh.

Technique 1. Hand Cleaning.

We find the best way to clean by hand is to use a bucket of clean hot water, a terry cloth towel or microfiber towel and a suitable fabric /carpet cleaning product.

Place the towel into the bucket and wring out as much of the excess water as possible. Spray a little of the cleaning product onto the towel, rub the towel over the fabric surface, flip the towel to a clean side and repeat. It is important to rinse the towel, and apply a small amount of the cleaning product each time. This process should remove most of the surface dirt on the carpet or fabric. Repeat if needed, then for best results use a dry towel over the surface to help dry the fabric, this will also help to remove any remaining dirt. We recommend using a microfiber towel on fabric cloth and more delicate surfaces, and using a terry cloth for carpets. (Please take care to ensure that the terry cloth doesn’t leave additional lint on the surfaces).

Technique 2 . Steam Cleaning.

There is no reason why you can't pre-treat the surface as suggested in the 1st technique. You can then use the steam to break down the rest of the dirt. When using the steam cleaner it is best to use the brush attachment, place a towel over the brush, which can be held in place by using a rubber band. Place the covered brush attachment onto the surface of the carpet/fabric to be cleaned, pull the trigger to activate the release of the steam, slowly work up and down the carpet/fabric until the surface is clean, ensuring that you regularly change the towel once the surface is soiled.

To remove stains place the covered brush over the stain, with the trigger open and leave for a few seconds, repeating the process if necessary. For stubborn stains try a suitable stain cleaner/remover. Please note that not all stains can be removed, especially if they have been left to dry into the fibres of the fabric/carpet.

Technique 3 . Machine Cleaning- Hot or Cold Water Extraction.

There are several different methods of extraction, as well as a variety of different machines with different features. For example some have the ability to heat the water, others have multiple motors for higher suction power, which usually results in improved cleaning and drying performance.

Pre Clean Method For Machine Extraction

Spray the cleaning Product onto the surface of the fabric/carpet, making sure you don’t saturate the surface. Lightly agitate the surface using a brush. To agitate the fabric on upholstery you need to use a very soft brush, but for carpets, you will require a slightly stiffer brush to loosen the dirt. Once the pile is agitated, place the towel into the bucket and wring out as much of the excess water as possible, rub the towel over the fabric surface, flip the towel to a clean side and repeat. It is important to rinse the towel each time. This process should remove most of the surface dirt on the carpet or fabric. Repeat if needed, then for best results use a dry towel over the surface to help dry the fabric, this will also help to remove any remaining dirt. We recommend using a microfibre towel on fabric cloth and more delicate surfaces, and using a terry cloth for carpets.

Method 1

This is the most economic method. Fill the solution tank with just water- no detergent, (ideally the water should be fairly hot). Pre-spray the area to be cleaned and extract as normal. This method is ideal for people who may be allergic to some of the stronger chemicals, as all chemicals are removed during the extraction process. This method is also recommended for more delicate fabrics, where it is important that you don’t have any cleaning chemical reside left. This method normally works very well and is one of the best and most economic ways to clean both carpets and fabrics, but we do recommend that you pre-spray the area first to get the best results.

Method 2.

This is for less soiled surfaces, it is also the best method to use where moisture control is important. We are not going to pre-spray the surface with this method. Fill the solution tank with hot water and add a cleaning detergent. You will need to use lots of fast, repetitive strokes over the surface of the fabric/carpet. This will ensure that the surface is not over saturated with the solution. We do not recommend this method for heavily soiled surfaces, but if necessary, you can pre-spray the area first, taking great care not to saturate it.

Method 3.

This is designed for the most heavily soiled surfaces. Prepare the surface to be cleaned by brushing or vacuuming to remove any loose dirt. Fill the solution tank with hot water and a cleaning detergent. start from the top of the area to be cleaned. Work only in straight lines up and down ( or across ) taking great care not to work too slowly, or you will just saturate the area, It is important that you don't work too fast either as you will not remove the dirt and stains.

For stubborn stains, which have not been removed during the initial process, please read the additional comments below.

How To Extract the Seats & Carpets

  • Start from highest point and work across or up and down the fabric.
  • When working in a downwards direction, open the trigger. When going back up the fabric/carpet close the trigger, this will help to suck away any excess liquid.
  • When working in a downwards direction, open the trigger. When going back up the fabric/carpet close the trigger, this will help to suck away any excess liquid.

You will need to work at an optimum speed, too slow and all you will do is soak the fabric/carpet. - Too fast, and you will not remove the dirt or stains.

For stubborn stains which won't go initially, open the trigger to get the water flowing and work fast over the surface with slight pressure, if this is not successful, use a stain cleaner and try again.

Sometimes, where there is soiling deep into the pile or surface, it becomes loosened, and lifts with the initial cleaning process, but it isn't fully removed, this often results in it looking dirtier than when you first started! If this is the case don't despair, you just may need to repeat the process several times. Pre-spraying the surface, and agitating it with an appropriate brush may help.


Carpets and fabrics can be much easier to maintain when you add protection to the surface. The product you use is down to personal preference.

When applying your chosen Product it is best to have a damp or dry microfiber towel to hand to remove any over spray. One area that is particularly hard to do is the headlining, we find that using a spray bottle on a ' mist' setting works well, but even this can create some over spray. It is vital that you wipe any over spray off as soon as possible, especially when this has occurred on the glass.

It is essential that you check what surfaces you can use it on before applying the product. Many products are extremely versatile, so they can be used not just for your automobile, but on other items in the home, boats, caravans and even some shoes!

leather Cleaning Conditioning & Protecting

Step 5 Leather Care

Most, if not all leather now has a clear protective coating, this is similar to the protection which is applied to the paintwork on cars. Although this coating helps to protect the surface of the leather it means that conditioners are ineffective.

Caring For Uncoated Leather.

For uncoated leather, you will only want to use a genuine leather cleaner, so that you don't damage the surface of the leather.

If the surface is dirty it’s best use a soft nail brush to help clean deep into the grain. After cleaning with the leather cleaner and nail brush, wipe away any excess residue with a clean dry or damp microfibre towel. If the surface requires additional cleaning repeat the process. Once dry use a conditioner to help protect, nourish and stop the leather from cracking.

Use a maintenance spray to clean the leather regularly, this will help to keep the leather clean and it will not remove the conditioner.

How often you condition your leather depends on a variety of factors, however in summer when it is hot, the leather is more likely to dry out, so we would recommend that it is conditioned more frequently, paying particular attention to the driver’s seat.

Tip: if you have just purchased a car with un-coated leather interior, or if the leather appears dry, we would recommend applying multiple coats of conditioner.

Caring For Coated Leather

As the leather is coated it can be cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner or specialist cleaner, designed for coated leather. You will find that when coated leather is dirty it will have a slight sheen/shiny appearance. After cleaning the leather you should find that it returns to a matt appearance.

We recommend you use a product like LTT auto-clean, which should be applied with any non-abrasive pad or towel. You can use a soft nail brush to clean in between the stitching and the leather seams. Once the leather is clean and dry you should use a protector that will help protect the clear coating on the leather.

Plastic, vinyl Cleaning Dressing & protecting

Step 6. Plastic Trim.

There are so many different types of plastic and rubberized plastics, different texture coating and vinyl surfaces. Don't worry they can all be cleaned safely using just one cleaner.

How To Use & Apply.

Spray the All Purpose Cleaner (APC) directly onto the surface to be cleaned or a cloth. Wipe down all the surfaces thoroughly.- use a small brush to access areas like vents, switches, and other hard to reach areas. Use a microfiber towel, or non-abrasive scrub pad to clean the larger areas, and for scuff marks use a magic sponge.


Once it has all been thoroughly cleaned and dried you may want to dress the interior surfaces by applying a natural or satin sheen. This can improve the appearance of the plastic. We would not recommend a high gloss finish, but it is all down to personal preferance.

Whichever product you choose for this job, you should use a foam, microfiber or 100% Cotton towel to apply the product. If the product requires buffing, use a microfiber towel.

If after you have applied the finish you find it is to glossy, you can use a damp cloth to reduce the sheen.

products we recomed are meguiars all puropse cleaner and to maintain Meguiar's Quik Interior Detailer

Carbon fibre Trim

(not finished in matt or satin)

Carbon fibre trim requires similar care to your cars paintwork and will use the same products. Your carbon fibre trim can even be polished by dual action (DA) or a rotary polisher to restore the surface.

Polishing by hand is the technique that most people will be using, therefore for this guide it is the one we will concentrate on.

It is important to start will the least aggressive product. For example a finishing product or a light polish. If this doesn’t achieve your desired result, step up to a medium polish. You could also try changing the pad from a soft to a medium/heavy polishing pad. When you are happy with the finished result move on to protecting.

It is important to protect the surface as this will help to ensure it stays looking good. To help prevent the surface becoming damaged, we recommend using glass coating products, which will offer the best protection. Other than these, you can use a synthetic sealant or carmauba wax. Apply the product exactly as you would do to a painted surface. If a glass coating is being used, the surface must be cleaned using isopropyl alcohol (IPA) first to ensure the product bonds effectively to the surface.

To apply waxes or sealants use a soft foam applicator and leave for the manufacturers recommended time, then buff with a clean dry microfibre towel. You can always apply more layers of wax or sealant if desired.

Carbon Fibre matt finish

The best way to clean carbon fibre matt trim, is by using an all-purpose cleaner (APC) as you don’t want to use anything that might harm the surface. Using any sort of polish/abrasive can remove the matt finish, resulting in an unwanted shinny appearance. In most cases the washing process will be enough or simply wipe with a damp cloth, which has a little APC applied to the surface of the cloth.

Suede or Alcantara

These can be cleaned with the same techniques as used with delicate fabrics/carpets. We would recommend using a specialist gentle cleaner to ensure you don't damage the fabrics. There are some dedicated products that can be used to clean and maintain these fabrics and we would advise using these.

Glass Cleaning & Polishing

Why Does Glass Smear?

• Dirty cloth/towel or the towel is not dry enough.

• Heavy build up of dirt on the glass, which is not fully removed.

• Poor quality glass cleaner.

• Cleaning the glass in direct sunlight.

So how can I stop this from happening?

Use a good quality glass cleaner and we recommend using the two towel technique(detailed below) to ensure a streak free finish.

How To Clean Your Glass

Spray the glass cleaner directly onto the glass surface or a clean towel. Wipe thoroughly, winding down the window to ensure you clean the whole window, then use the 2 cloth method to wipe over the entire window. ( Two cloth method – is where you use one cloth to clean and one to dry ).Take care to ensure you remove all residue to ensure a streak free finish.

This method should be used on both exterior glass and interior glass and mirrors.

Tips For Exterior Glass Cleaning.

Dead bugs on windows and screens can be extremely difficult to remove. One technique we find that work well and is really effective is to use clay( this can easily be incorporated into your regular car washing schedule.) As you are using clay you will need some sort of lubricant, in most cases, if you are using a lubricant shampoo this will be fine, otherwise, a ‘quick detailer’ will be a good alternative. Wash the car as normal, apply some of the lubricating shampoo, or ‘quick detailer' to the glass, use the clay to help remove any bugs, rinse and dry the glass as per normal.

Claying the glass is a good idea, as it removes any contaminants, which will help to ensure the glass looks even cleaner.

About Polishing Glass

Polishing is another method that can be used on both interior and exterior glass. Polishing the glass is a good idea when the glass is very soiled. It helps to clean deeper into the glass than any spray cleaner, resulting in a near perfect appearance.

Tips On Caring For Your Glass Towel

Waffle weave microfiber towels are a perfect choice for cleaning glass. It is important that these are kept separate from other towels to minimize them becoming contaminated with waxes/other products which will result in a smearing on the glass.

Using absorbent paper or blue roll isn't recommended as it can leave lint behind, resulting in an extremely unprofessional finish.

Hopefully, this should cover the majority of surfaces found in your car. By following this guide and using the correct products, the interior of your car will never have looked better. Should you find anything we have missed, or you have any questions please get in contact with us

Your interior should look like new we hope this guild was helpful

View more of our detailing guides

Created By
Tom Robinson


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