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Top 10 Cleaning Tips for the Inside of Your Car

If you drive a lot for work or have kids and pets, you know how hard it can be to keep the inside of your car clean. Here are 10 cleaning tips and tricks to make your car's interior sparkle again.

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A female hand holding garbage bag into trash out of a car. Environmental pollution.Waranya Sawasdee/Getty Images

Clear trash

Before you pull out the vacuum and cleaning supplies, clear out all the obvious trash. Check everywhere thoroughly. There will likely be trash on the floor, under the seats, and in the seat cracks. Toss out any wrappers, bottles, toys, and other objects that your vacuum can’t handle. These are the 15 cleaning secrets only car detailers know.

Soap for cleaning car matsVeronica Graham/Family Handyman

Tackle floor mats

Pull the floor mats out of the vehicle and shake them out as much as possible. This will make vacuuming easier. Scrub them with soap and hot water or a foaming carpet cleaner and allow them to air dry completely before reinstalling them. These are the best-reviewed DIY car detailing products on Amazon.

Cleaner hand in protective glove cleaning textile front passenger seat with professionally extraction method. Regular cleanup. Care about auto interior. Commercial cleaning company. Low angle view.FotoDuets/Getty Images

Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum

Vacuum both front and back seats, the floor, and, if necessary, the trunk. Vacuum every area of the vehicle where you can get the nozzle, including under the pedals and along the side door panels. Here are the cleaning tricks car washers won’t tell you.

Hand in rubber protective glove with rag cleaning a dusty car interior's door. Early spring cleaning or regular clean up.FotoDuets/Getty Images

Wipe away grime

Now that the car is vacuumed, grab a soft cloth or cleaning wipes to wipe up all that dirt, sticky stuff, and dust. You can also spray a small amount of car-specific cleaner over the console, steering wheel, and the area between the seats to restore that new-car look. These are the best car wipes for cleaning your car’s interior.

clean cup holders in carPakpoom Phummee/Shutterstock

Clean cup holders


Cup holders can harbor grime, spilled coffee, and dead hair and skin cells (yuck). Try using a cotton swab dipped in a little cleaning solution to reach those difficult areas. In some vehicles, the entire cup holder is removable for easier cleaning. These are the things people with clean cars always have in common.

clean car windowsotomobil/Shutterstock

Wipe windows


Spray a window cleaner solution on windows and wipe clean with a paper towel or microfiber cloth. You can also mix one cup of water, two tablespoons vinegar, and one cup rubbing alcohol for an effective homemade window cleaner. Cleaning might be an easy DIY task, but these are the car problems you should never try to fix yourself.

car seat stainsNatthakit/Shutterstock

Attack stains


If there are stains on the seats or on the carpet (and we guarantee there will be, especially if you have kids!) try this homemade solution. In a spray bottle mix two cups water, one cup vinegar and about a tablespoon of dish soap. Spray on the stains and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then wipe clean with a wet cloth. If the stain persists, try a product like Spot Shot or Resolve. Spot-test in an inconspicuous area to make sure the upholstery fabric is colorfast. This is the best polish for your dashboard (bonus, it’s probably in your pantry).

dog in car clean pet fur hairAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Remove pet hair


If you have a dog, you know the pain of dealing with pet hair in the car. If the vacuum doesn’t remove all the fur, try using a rubber-dipped glove. Simply brush the hair away with your hand, and it sticks to the glove like magic! To protect your car’s interior from any future pet damage, try a waterproof seat protector like this one. Follow these steps to learn how you should be cleaning your car’s interior.

shutterstock_2477262 paint stir sticks samplesChad McDermott/Shutterstock

Get into crevices


Grab a paint stirrer or two next time at you’re at the hardware store. Wrap an end with a microfiber cloth and use the stick to get into those hard-to-reach areas between the seats and around the center console. These are the things you should never leave in your car.

car freshenerAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Freshen up


Create a homemade car freshener with one cup of baking soda and five drops of your favorite essential oil. Place both the soda and oil in a sealable plastic bag or glass jar for 24 hours. Then shake it up, sprinkle on the car’s floor and let it sit for 20 minutes. When the time has passed, vacuum up the baking soda. The scent will linger, making your car smell fresh and clean! Planning on spending the afternoon cleaning your car? Try out these other weird tricks for cleaning your car as well.

Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.