Cleaning Your Car’s Interior: A Complete Checklist

Cleaning Your Car’s Interior: A Complete Checklist

Smudgy windows, dirt piles across the floor mats, coffee stains on the cushions, mystery crumbs in the seat cracks, and goo in your cup holders — it’s incredible how quickly your ride can fill up with gunk and filth!

If this sounds like your vehicle’s current status, it may be time for a seasonal cleaning. We’ve got several tips that can help you whip your whip back in shape.

Interior Vehicle Cleaning Checklist

What You’ll Need — Cleaning Products and Materials:

  • Microfiber cloths
    Keep one or two of these handy to minimize the mess and keep the surfaces cleaner between deep cleaning sessions.
  • Shop-Vac or handheld vacuum cleaner
    Consider purchasing a dedicated car vacuum, which is designed to fit easily into hard-to-reach spots inside automobiles. Depending on outlet accessibility, an extension cord may also be a useful purchase.
  • Stiff bristled brush
    Ideal for scrubbing grime and dirt from your car’s seats and interior carpet.
  • Power washer
    If you don’t have a power washer at home, you can usually find them at car washes. A hose with decent water pressure and a spray head might also work for you.
  • Wipes
    Since you’ve got dirty hands touching the steering wheel and sweat building up, a little disinfecting could be just what you need. For leather fabrics, try leather conditioner wipes or leather cleaner wipes.
  • Unused toothbrush or small, soft paintbrush
    Perfect for those small cracks and seams harboring dry dirt or debris.
  • Cotton swabs and/or clean rags
    For scrubbing out those hard-to-reach areas — such as down in your cup holder!
  • Bucket, vinegar, dish soap
    For stained cloth seats only.
  • Non-gel toothpaste
    For stained leather seats only.
  • Berryman® Electronic Cleaner, Part #2206
    Quickly and safely cleans/degreases electronic equipment, for more reliable operation and longer equipment life. Fast-drying formula was specially designed for maximum compatibility with all plastics, printed or painted surfaces, and sensitive electronics.

Interior Cleaning Checklist:

  • Carpets, floor mats
    Use your detailing brush to loosen up debris on all of your carpets and upholstery.
    Take out the floor mats from your car. With a high-pressure hose or power-washer, spray the dirt and dust from the material.
    You can also put cloth mats in your washing machine, using your regular detergent…but for better results, be sure to apply spray stain remover first!
  • Seats
    If necessary, remove the seats completely from the vehicle. This allows excellent access to all those little nooks and crannies that can be awkward, or impossible, to access otherwise. In particular, the driver’s seat and front passenger’s seat may need to be removed, as these are generally the most highly-trafficked parts of the vehicle.
    If your vehicle has a leather interior, consider upkeep maintenance; try a leather conditioner with aloe.
  • Stains
    You can clean cloth by using a vinegar mixture. In a bucket, mix the following ingredients: 1 cup vinegar, four drops of dish soap, 1 gallon of hot water. Gently dab the mixture into the stain and use a brush to scrub the stain out. Finally, rinse with clean water. Voilà!
    For leather seats, use a non-gel toothpaste. The dabbing technique, with a bit of toothpaste and a clean toothbrush, will help to gently scrub away the stain. Consider upkeep maintenance by also applying a conditioner, (with aloe), as recommended.
  • Cup holders
    Try using a cotton swab or rag that’s been dipped in warm, soapy water to reach those difficult, grimy areas.
    Check if your vehicle has a removable cup holder, for easier cleaning!
  • Vacuum  everything!
    Clear out trash and other large items before powering on the vac. This makes the whole process go faster.
    Along with ridding of any disposable materials you happen to find before you begin vacuuming, open all of the vehicle’s doors. Convenient access is key!

    To properly lift tiny particles out of plush textile surfaces, try your vacuum’s brush attachment. The bristles of the brush will grab debris from deep within your car’s carpet, resulting in a deeper clean.
    Remove the floor mats; it’s easiest to vacuum these separately, later on.
  • Windows
    Step 1: Dip one side of your microfiber cloth in water to clean the glass. Afterward, use the dry side of the towel to gently remove any signs of streaking.
    Step 2: Add the cleaning solution directly onto a different microfiber cloth. Do NOT spray the cleaner directly onto the glass. A few spritzes will do just fine!
    Step 3: In a circulation motion, rub the dampened towel from top to bottom.
    Step 4: For a streak-free finish, wipe the glass dry with a fresh microfiber cloth.
    When cleaning tinted car windows, extreme care should be taken, since the film scratches easily. Avoid ammonia-based glass cleaning products.
  • Steering wheel
    A clean, dry toothbrush should help you to remove dry dirt and debris from the small seams and crevices. For additional dirt and germs, a damp microfiber cloth works great!
    Since you don’t want the finishes of your interior to break down, please err on the side of caution when selecting cleaning products.
    > For a synthetic steering wheel, try wiping it down with a mixture of dish soap and water — for every two cups of water, try one or two drops of soap. It should not foam up. That means you’ve used too much soap.
    > For leather, you can use leather-specific cleaning wipes.
    > For plastic, vinyl, and rubber, Armor All’s Protectant Wipes can help to prevent fading and discoloration.
  • Center console
    Treat this area like the steering wheel. You’ll probably want to spend more time on it with the vacuum, however.
    Again, there are parts of the console that can sometimes be removed and washed separately… if that’s the case, we’d recommend it!
  • Dashboard
    After using a small brush to gently remove dirt, you can use a dry microfiber cloth to rub down and dust the dash – be careful to not scratch the delicate parts of your car during this process.
    If you care to add shine, you may want to polish this area. Simply apply a small amount onto a clean and dry cloth, then rub the cloth over the dash and/or center console. Remove any excess polish with a dry cloth when you’re finished.
  • Electronic equipment
    An aerosol with an extension tube – we recommend Berryman® Electronic Cleaner #2206 – will remove fingerprints, dirt, dust, oil, and grease. This is ideal for maintenance and repair of precision components and electronics, such as printed circuits, relays, contacts, switches, points, rheostats, and tape heads.
  • Trunk
    Don’t forget to take a quick peek inside! If necessary, wipe down removable trunk mats and liners, or do away with trash and miscellaneous clutter.


How to Get Rid of Your Car’s Odor

Baking soda sprinkled on the floors and seats will help eliminate odors. If that doesn’t work, try using an enzymatic cleaner, or sticking a dryer sheet under your car seats.

You might also consider placing a small dish with few drops of your favorite essential oil in your car, leaving it overnight.


A Final Word of Advice

Don’t force yourself to rush through the cleaning process! Fully assess the situation your vehicle is in, then make sure you block off enough time to get the job done right.

Once clean, keep your vehicle in good shape with these general car cleaning tips:

1. Every time you leave your car, throw your trash away. This will help alleviate mystery odors, crumbs, spills, etc.

2. Every once in a while, check to see that your trunk is cleared out, free of clutter and smelly items.

3. Keeping a microfiber cloth or dust rag in the car will let you clean up smaller messes and really minimize the buildup. This definitely prolongs the need for a deep clean!

4. You might also want to keep cleaning wipes and a small brush handy. Again, “clean-as-you-go” is the best method!

5. For upkeep and regular maintenance of leather materials, make a note in your phone or calendar to apply conditioner and/or leather cleaner.


Look good, feel good, and ride smooth with Berryman Products!



Needed this item [Berryman® Electronic Cleaner, Part #2206] to clean up a poor electrical connection on the signaling switches in my car. This product did the joband the price was good too!

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