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Kids don’t really grasp what those cookie crumbs and melting jellybeans can do to your car seats and floor mats. These tips for cleaning your car’s interior will help you keep pests and foul odors out of your car.
You’ll need gloves and a vacuum that can fit under seats and into nooks and crannies. A microfiber cloth can be used on many types of surfaces. A bristle brush comes in handy to loosen gunk on carpets, cloth seats, and floor mats. Pros recommend microfiber cloths, cotton swabs, toothbrushes, and even the air canisters you use to blast crumbs out of your laptop to clean your car’s interior.
A solution of two parts water, one part white vinegar, and a dash of dish soap makes a good cleaner. A separate bottle with just the vinegar and water makes an effective window cleaner. Have garbage bags handy. Remember that leather seats and dashboard accents require special cleaners and conditioners to keep them in good condition. Check the manual to see if the carmaker has specific recommendations.
Where to Start
Clean out all the loose trash. If your kids are old enough, you can get them to help by turning trash disposal into a treasure hunt. Pull the front seats as far forward as you can and pick up all the large debris—odds are, you’ll find some long-lost action figures, a pacifier or two (ewww, throw that out!), and plenty of fast-food wrappers. Pick up everything you can grab and get it into the trash bag. Then, move the seats back as far as you can and repeat with the junk that was under the front of the seat.
Pull the floor mats out and shake them out. Then, vacuum them thoroughly. If they are stained, use the vinegar-water solution on the stains. Scrub the solution in and let it sit for fifteen minutes. Finally, rinse the solution off and let the mats dry in the sun.
Dashboard, Steering, and Controls
Dust the steering wheel, control console, and dashboard; then, clean them using a microfiber cloth. Use your small brushes or cotton swabs to get the dust off air vents and the little borders around the radio or back-up camera screen.
Cupholders are just gross. Fortunately, some of them are removable, so you can soak and clean them. Cotton swabs will help reach gunk glued in the bottom of cupholders that you can’t remove. Clean the windows and mirrors with lint-free cloths, and wipe the door handles and window controls. Don’t forget to dig out the junk in the door troughs.
Crumbs and gunk will fall to the car floor as you are cleaning the dash, so leave the vacuuming to the end. Use an attachment that can reach narrow spots and poke deep into seats. Take special care when cleaning an infant car seat—follow the manufacturer’s instructions so that you don’t damage the harness or mess up the installation. If your car stinks, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda on the carpet and let it sit for as long as you can; finally, vacuum the baking soda up thoroughly.