Only 32% of people clean the inside of their vehicle once a year.* Right now, we need to do it more than ever.

Here’s a good list of supplies to get you started:

  • Car vacuum cleaner with brush and crevice attachments
  • Cotton swabs
  • Plastic and vinyl cleaner
  • Household soap
  • Cloth cleaner
  • Leather cleaner
  • Spot and stain remover
  • Microfiber or paper towels
  • Detailing spray
  • Bug and tar remover
  • Car wash
  • Clay bar
  • Wax and applicators
  • Ammonia-free glass cleaner
  • Wheel cleaner
  • Lambswool wash mitt
  • Polishing cloths
  • Nylon or natural bristle brush
  • Detail brush
  • Wash bucket
  • Water hose

Deep Cleaning

Just as you wash your hands, soap and water are your vehicle’s best defense against germs and bacteria. Using household soaps on your vehicle’s most touched surfaces is safe and harmless to most leather and fabric surfaces, but always read the product label just to be sure. As much as you want to eliminate germs, you don’t want to damage your interior, so avoid scrubbing vigorously or using stiff bristle brushes. You should avoid using wipes and sprays that contain a citrus fragrance (terpene hydrocarbon/d-limonene) and/or chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) cleaning agents. Also, all disinfectant products dispersed by a pressurized aerosol container are not recommended. Please keep in mind that damage to your vehicle as a result of using non-recommended products may void the warranty.

Pay extra attention to high-touch areas, including:

  • Steering wheel
  • Safety belt
  • Cupholders
  • Gear shift
  • Key fobs
  • Inside door handles
  • Center console
  • Armrests
  • Touchscreen
  • Audio controls
  • Start/stop button
  • Window/seat/mirror controls
  • Rearview mirror


Start with the carpet, seats, dash and package shelf. A vacuum attachment with a brush helps dislodge stubborn dirt. A narrow crevice attachment will clean hard-to-reach spots like under the seats.

Seat Cleaning

If you have cloth seats, spread cloth cleaner with a sponge and let it sit. Once it’s dry, vacuum the seats and remove any leftover cleaner with a clean towel.

If your seats are leather, remove stains and grime with the leather cleaner, a clean towel and light pressure. Be cautious not to rub too hard as this may remove the dye.

Interior and Trim

Shine up your interior trim pieces with plastic and vinyl cleaner. Most cleaners have the added benefit of long-term protection once they soak in. Apply it with a clean towel to help remove set-in grime. Don’t forget the hard-to-reach crevices, including the instrument cluster, emblems, switches, air vents, audio system and dash. Cotton swabs are useful for these areas.

Washing the Exterior

Park your vehicle in the shade, then wash it with a bucket of car wash and a lambswool wash mitt. Again, focus on high-touch areas such as door handles, door edges and latches. Don’t forget the hood, rear hatch and trunk. Rinse the vehicle with a garden hose from the top down. Dry with a microfiber towel, starting with the windows, then moving to the paint. Always dry in the shade and be sure to get it dry before water spots form.

How Do I Prevent Paint Damage?

When a vehicle is left too long outside, it can be exposed to harmful factors: bird droppings, tree sap and acid rain. These can lead to costly repairs or extreme deterioration of your vehicle’s finish. If you can’t store your vehicle in a garage, car covers rated for outdoor use are highly recommended should your vehicle necessitate a long-term “driveway sit.”

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