While your car may be freshly detailed on the exterior, we can all see the sweet packets loitering inside. Here’s how to clean your car’s interior giving it showroom-appeal once again.

Oddly, a car’s cabin is one of the most overlooked areas when it comes to car detailing. It gets stranger to think about when you consider that you spend the majority of your time inside the car driving, rather than looking at it. When it comes to cleaning your car’s interior, most people give it a quick vacuum and leave it at that. However, if your cabin is looking a little crusty, then a more thorough cleaning session will be required. Whether you’ve got a mucky interior or not, here’s how to clean your car’s interior to make it look showroom-fresh with just a bit of effort.

1. Pick the right cleaner for your car seats

Spray on the upholstery cleaner onto the seats - clean you car's interior

Before we start our guide on how to clean your car’s interior, it’s worth noting that not all interiors use the same materials. The car we’re working with here has cloth seats, so things will obviously be different if yours has leather. Begin by giving the seats a liberal spray of upholstery cleaner.

2. Use a brush to clean your car’s interior

Clean your car's interior with a brush on the seats

Clean your car’s interior with a spritz of the upholstery cleaner so that you’re not using it dry.

Scrubbing cleaner on the seats during car interior clean

Begin working the cleaner into the seat material using some gentle pressure, and get some foam going.

3. Use a vacuum cleaner

Using a vacuum on the car's interior

Whip out your vacuum cleaner. With a suitable attachment, vacuum over the section you’ve just been scrubbing.

4. Wipe away excess cleaner and dirt

Wipe away excess upholstery cleaner from seat on car's interior

Now grab a clean microfiber cloth and rub it over the section you’ve just vacuumed to remove any remaining upholstery cleaner and dirt.

Dirt from clean microfiber cloth on car's interior

This is pretty disgusting, but a dirty cloth means clean seats. That in turn means you and the products are doing the job properly when you clean your car’s interior.

5. Repeat the process

How to clean your car's interior header image

Continue working over the seat methodically, going section by section, brushing, vacuuming and wiping as you go. You can also use upholstery cleaner on the carpets if vacuuming alone isn’t enough to get them looking clean, in which case you can spray, brush and vacuum them just like the seats for a deeper clean.

6. Apply interior cleaner to your car’s plastics

Using a brush on a Clio's door card

Next, apply some interior cleaner to the plastic on your door card. Then, proceed to work it across the surface using a detailing brush.

Wiping away access cleaner on your car's interior

As always, work in sections, and once you’ve finished one area, wipe it off with a clean microfiber cloth before moving on to the next portion of the door card.

Using a brush on the dashboard of a car's interior

Now it’s time to move on to the plastic of the dashboard itself. As before, apply the interior cleaner and then get to work with your brush, moving in overlapping circular motions and with gentle pressure to get it into the textured surface. Wipe it off with a microfiber cloth when you’re done.

50/50 shot of interior cleaner

You might not think your dash is especially dirty, but as you can see from the 50/50, it’s amazing how much dirt can be found lurking in plain sight. Continue working your way across the dashboard and other trim areas. Don’t use interior cleaner on leather trim pieces, and also keep both it and the brush away from screens and electronic displays. You can simply use a damp microfiber to give these a very gentle wipe.

7. Now your car’s interior is clean, use an air freshener

Using an air freshener on car's interior

Your interior should now be looking a whole lot cleaner than before, but there’s every chance it might not be smelling great. Rather than using one of those hanging air fresheners, a whole-car air freshener and odor eliminator will do a much more thorough job of banishing bad smells and getting your car’s interior fresh.

Words by: Elizabeth de Latour & Matt Bell.