This Is How Often You Should Really Clean the Inside of Your Car (Hint: It’s More Than You Think!)

Sorry, but your car interior is kinda filthy.

cleaning carnikolaborovic/Shutterstock
You probably have a weekly cleaning routine for your home. (Check this guide on how often to clean it if you aren’t sure when to bother.) Heck, you probably even make sure to hit the car wash the minute the outside of your car starts looking worse for the wear. But when was the last time you actually cleaned your car interior?

Between the commute to work, soccer practice, and PTA meetings, you probably spend hours a day in your car. Unlike at home, your dirty shoes are almost always on in the car, and there’s a good chance you’ve been caught snacking during the rush to get to your next destination. All that use makes for a pretty grimy car interior, but most people don’t bother cleaning as often as they should.

To keep the inside of your car sparkling, you should be cleaning it at least once a month, Christian Newman, owner of C & J Automotive Detailing tells TODAY. And if the dog hair and granola bar crumbs start building up even sooner, you might want to clean the inside of your vehicle every other week. In other words, there’s a good chance you need to clean yours more. Luckily, we’ve got the steps you need to get the job done:

1. Start with a vacuum—but not where you think

Don’t start by vacuuming the carpet when you decide to clean your car interior; you’ll just end up pushing dirt back on when you clean the seats and other areas, according to Family Handyman. Instead, start by attacking the dashboard, door panels, and console with your vacuum. While you’re at it, scan your vehicle for these things you should never leave in the car.

2. Open the door

Now take a look at the doorjamb, the area where your car door connects to the body of the car. “Door jambs are one of the first parts of a car you see when you get in, so keep them clean,” Newman tells TODAY. By using a cotton cloth to rub mild polish into the area, you’ll not only make the area look nicer, but also add oils to keep it from getting to dry, according to Popular Mechanics.

3. Wipe down the vinyl

To get dust and dirt off your dashboard and door insides, start by wiping the vinyl with a rag, suggests auto repair company Your Mechanic. Then spritz a microfiber cloth with vinyl cleaner and wipe down the surface, getting rid of the excess with a dry cloth. Just avoid the steering wheel, because vinyl cleaner can make it slippery and hard to hold on to. Don’t forget to hit the pockets in your door by de-cluttering and vacuuming. (Check out these other things you should de-clutter ASAP.)

4. Wash your windows

When you roll down your windows, you might notice a buildup of dirt toward the top—don’t forget to hit those edges when you wipe down your windows and mirrors, suggests Family Handyman. You can also try this cool trick for using club soda to clean a windshield and use these other tips to avoid window cleaning problems.

5. Scrub those seats

Before washing seats, get the dirt off with a vacuum. Next, for cloth seats, work at a spray-on cleaner with a scrub brush, says Family Handyman. If your seats are leather or vinyl, use a lotion-based leather cleaner, which can work on either material, Newman tells TODAY.

6. Hit the floor

Finally, it’s time for the floors. Start by removing the mats and sliding your seats forward—junk tends to build up behind them. Go over the mats and carpet with a brush-free attachment, according to Family Handyman. Now bring that vacuum inside for these other genius uses for a vacuum cleaner.

Become more interesting every week!

The Reader's Digest "Read Up" Newsletter

We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.