Noticeable stains or foul odors are pretty obvious signs that you need to wash the interior of your car, but even without these prompts, washing the interior of your car is a good precaution to take every now and then. Remove as much junk and garbage from your car as possible before washing your car. Then use special carpet and upholstery cleaners to scrub the affected parts of the car.
Method 1 of 3: Prepare the cleanup
Step 1. Remove all garbage
Any wrapping, paper, pebbles, or other clutter that you see laying around that has made a mess of your car interior needs to be cleaned up before you can start washing.
Step 2. Vacuum the car interior
Vacuuming removes most of the large dirt particles, making shampooing both easier and more effective. Shampooing is primarily for removing greasy, smelly gunk that just vacuuming or sweeping won't go away.
Method 2 of 3: Shampooing the carpet
Step 1. Choose the right materials
A general sprayable carpet cleaner will work well enough for the carpet in your car. In addition, use a stiff-bristled brush, such as a stiff, soft plastic tire brush.
Step 2. Work on one section of the carpet at a time
To avoid having to keep soaking the car carpet, focus on one part of the car before moving on to the next, rather than trying to wash the entire car at once. Often people find it easier to start with the floor on the driver's side, before bending over the front of the car to the passenger side and then moving back in a circular motion.
Step 3. Remove the floor mats
These should be cleaned separately from the rest of the car's carpet.
Step 4. Pre-treat heavy stains on the carpet
Problematic stains such as tar or oil may not be sufficiently removed with simple carpet shampoo. Use a detergent specifically designed for these heavy stains to pre-treat the carpet before shampooing. Follow the directions on the detergent label. You will usually need to spray or dab the stain remover directly on the stain so that it is completely covered. Leave it on for a few minutes before washing.
Step 5. Meanwhile, clean the removed floor mats
Spray on an all-purpose cleaner or carpet shampoo, depending on whether there is dust on the mats or not. Scrub them with a stiff brush, rinse and hang vertically to dry. Wait until the mats and carpet are clean before putting them back in the car.
Step 6. Spray the carpet with the shampoo
Spray evenly over each area of the carpet. Work the mixture into the carpet with your brush. You can apply a little more shampoo to more stubborn stains, but don't use too much. Car carpet is generally moisture resistant, but if it gets soaked, it can quickly develop mold.
Step 7. Soak up excess moisture as you work
After you've scrubbed the shampoo into the carpet and given it plenty of time to soak in (per label directions - usually just a few minutes), scrub off any extra moisture from the carpet with a clean, dry towel. pressing the freshly treated carpet. Move the towel in one direction over the carpet instead of scrubbing back and forth. Continue until most of the moisture is removed, then allow the carpet to air dry for the rest by leaving the car windows or doors open. If desired, aim an electric fan at the carpet.
Method 3 of 3: Wash the upholstery
Step 1. Mix special upholstery shampoo in a bucket of water
You can use the same shampoo as for the carpet, but a shampoo specifically designed for upholstery is a better option. Use plenty of shampoo and mix vigorously to create a large amount of lather.
The foam from the shampoo itself is what you will use to clean the upholstery, rather than the soapy water. Upholstery, especially when made of seat fabric or velour, tends to look dry even after soaking. As such, you can easily use too much detergent if you work with soapy water or a spray shampoo
Step 2. Concentrate on one spot at a time
As with the car carpet, clean one part of the upholstery at a time, rather than smearing the entire seat with foam at once. Start on the same side where you started cleaning the carpet, moving in the same pattern.
Step 3. Scoop up some of the foam with your brush and work it into the fabric
Lift the foam with the bristles of your stiff brush, so that you get as much foam as possible and take as little water as possible. Transfer the foam to the upholstery and scrub it firmly into the fabric with the brush. Try to cover the entire upholstery with as little foam as possible.
The suds in your bucket will likely decrease as you work, so you may need to re-foam the suds periodically to create more lather. You may even need to add extra shampoo if needed
Step 4. Remove excess water with a dry terry towel
Press the towel firmly into the upholstery and move it in straight lines in one direction to allow the towel to absorb any excess water from the upholstery.
Step 5. Let the rest air dry
Most moisture should dry naturally. Prevent mold by keeping the windows down or leaving the car doors open to allow better air circulation. You can speed this up a bit with an electric fan.
- Do not use regular shampoo on leather upholstery or leather trim. Leather should be cleaned with special cleaners and a soft cloth.
- Particularly stubborn odors may need to be removed with special deodorizers, rather than regular shampoos.
- If you have a steam cleaner, you can use it to clean your carpet and upholstery. Use the correct carpet or upholstery shampoo, depending on what you're cleaning, and follow the steam cleaner instructions to apply the cleaner correctly.