How To Detail A Car Interior Like A Pro!
If you are wondering how to detail a car interior like a pro, look no more! With the Coronavirus in full swing we thought it would be a great idea to give you something really easy today! A complete guide to detailing your car interior like a pro!
The core difference between a pro and a rookie is simple. Being a pro detailer means you take each step required to complete a full detail job. This usually includes, cleaners, shampoos, and conditioners. An entry level detailer will miss small areas and typically not complete the entire job.
What Products Will I Need?
Totally loaded question here, but typically to detail your interior correctly with quality results you will need the following:
- Carpet Cleaner/Shampoo.
- Dash Cleaner/Conditioner
- Leather/Cloth Seat Upholstery Cleaner(depends on what you have)
- Detailing Brushes/Vaccuum (wet vacuum preferred)
Gather all of these things listed above, we will now go over why you need each product and how you should use it correctly.
You know what cleaning products are recommended, but now why these specific products?
There actually is a pretty big difference between general cleaner and actual automotive carpet cleaner. Many people substitute products like simple green or tuff stuff for carpet cleaning needs. We however recommend an actual carpet cleaning shampoo.
Carpet cleaner/shampoo does exactly as it sounds. It allows you to scrub into your vehicles carpet without staining it.
This will also help remove stains/dirt/salt/mud from your carpet as well. To start using this product we recommend vacuuming up the entire carpet space first and then scrubbing again after.
Start by sucking up all loose dirt, leaves, etc… from the inside of your vehicle.
Once you have all the surface layer debris removed, spray some of your product on your brush and begin scrubbing the inside of your carpet.
You will begin to notice little flakes of dirt and grime start to fly everywhere and this is perfectly okay.
Continue to scrub using vertical and horizontal motions, NEVER scrub in a circle.
Once you have it all scrubbed up, repeat the same process as before, suck up all loose debris and repeat the process as necessary.
It will sometimes take more than 1 pass to get your carpets looking like new or to achieve a like new finish.
Once you are satisfied with the finish result, you can get some extra credit by applying a conditioner to moisturize your carpets as well to help prevent staining. Think of it as a car wax but for the inside of your carpets.
You wanted to know how to detail a car interior like a pro. A pro does the whole job and it may take multiple passes to get those professional results.
This is one of the most under looked sections when detailing a vehicle. Many people will just wipe some product on or use a wet wipe to clean off their interior panels. Stop doing this, lets save time and money and do it right the first time.
We personally like to use Chemical Guys Nonsense cleaner here. You may use whichever brand you wish, we just like the no scent feature and the “like new” effect thus product has.
Biggest mistake we see all the time is many people want to apply the cleaner directly to the dash. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS! This gets over spray on things you may not have wanted cleaner on. Not only that, it also leaves un-even detail marks as well.
Some spots of your dash will look clean where as others will look like they haven’t been touched.
To apply your interior cleaner correctly, spray it directly onto a microfiber towel/cleaning mit instead. Once the cleaner is applied to your rag/towel, buff the product into the dash by hand.
Once it’s applied let it sit for about 30-60 seconds and then buff off with a dry clean rag/towel again. Keep your 2 rags separated, one should be for applying cleaner, one should be for removing the extra.
When tackling vents and other small areas, do yourselves a favor and pick up a entry level detailing kit. This will come with brushes and such to help you get into vents and other small areas of trim.
Once you have your dash all scrubbed, used a brush to get into all the tiny crevices, and have removed all the extra cleaner, now to protect it. Apply any form of dash conditioner to keep it in great shape through the sun rays and other harmful particles.
Ultra violet rays from the sun eventually eat at the finish and causes eventual fading/cracking in the dash. Keeping your dash clean regularly and keeping it moisturized/protected will prevent this from happening.
When you clean your dash it’s no different than washing your hands. Do it enough and eventually they will dry out and get cracked/brittle. Just like you put lotion on your hands, keep your dash cleaned and moisturized as well. Still wondering how to detail a car interior like a pro? Time to move onto your seats!
For Cloth Users.
Cloth seats are a little more tricky to clean than traditional leather so lets’ not waste any time. If you have cloth seats do the exact same thing that you did to your carpets. Vacuum them all first and then apply a cleaner and protectant.
Once again we are using the Non-sense cleaner. We personally order it by the gallon because it does recommend a dilution ratio with water. Anyways, just as we did before, vacuum everything up and apply some cleaner to your brush.
Don’t use a hard/soft bristle brush, use one that has some grab but not enough to where it will damage your seats. Apply the product by scrubbing it in and the wet vacuuming everything up again.
As usual you may need to do multiple passes depending on how bad they are stained/worn.
For Leather Users!
Same thing as before with cloth just this time you will be applying a leather conditioner as well. Leather tends to dry out and crack/fade over time so keeping it clean and moisturized is absolutely key.
Using a SOFT bristle brush after vacuuming, apply the cleaner once again scrubbing in a vertical and horizontal motion. This will allow you to get into all crevices easily removing the dirt.
Using a microfiber towel, apply your conditioner, immediately after, wipe off with a separate clean microfiber towel. You will know when you have done the job correct because seats will no longer have stains and will have their normal “color” come back through.
Obviously there is going above and beyond and purchasing equipment such as steam cleaners. However being that we are DIY friendly and know not everyone has that kind of money, let’s talk about some great brushes and vacuums that you can afford/should use.
There are all sort of different kinds of brushes out there. We recommend an actual detailing kit though so you have everything ready to go. Any local auto parts stores typically sells detailing products.
If you have a detailing store specifically nearby though we recommend going that route instead.
We personally order everything online and just have it shipped to our homes, but we get it, some of you are just eager to get started!
The brushes we recommend utilizing are:
- 1 mid size/mid bristle brush for carpets.
- a small detailing brush with a rubber tip for small cracks.
- 1 or 2 small brush for detailing vents and other hard to reach areas.
- At least 4 microfiber towels, 2 for cleaning 2 for conditioning/treatment.
Look at the image below, this is a great example for a cheap entry level detailing kit from Advance Auto Parts.
This has brushes for vents, general dash cleaning purposes, and has the little rubber tipped brush for getting in those really hard to reach areas.
Don’t waste your time getting a traditional vacuum. You are going to want a wet vac and it is going to save you a ton of time, money, and headache in the long run. Wet vacs are able to suck up small amounts of fluid depending on size without damaging the vacuum.
You are going to be pumping quite a bit of liquid into your interior and unless your drying them out via removing them. We recommend having something to suck up excess cleaner/moisture in your cloth/leather areas.
We highly recommend a wet vac over a traditional vacuum, but if you are super tight on money, a normal vacuum will suffice. Just know you will have to wait for each surface to dry completely before you can suck up the extra dirt/grease you extracted from the surface.
Many stores like Advance Auto Parts, Harbor Freight, etc… will have everything you typically need to get the job done.
Remember everyone, if your still wondering how to detail a car interior like a pro, the answer is super simple. Use a good quality product, complete each step FULLY not just half way.
Pay attention to detail and get inside of all those easily miss looked spots. Don’t forget most importantly as well, always apply a protection after every fresh cleaning. You did all that hard work making it look great, now don’t forget to keep it looking that way for years to come.
Hopefully you liked this guide, be sure to check out our other related posts such as our guide to restoring a car with no experience!
Good luck with your car cleaning adventures!