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car interior cleaning

Car Interior Cleaning Guide

Your car interior takes a lot of abuse simply because of the heavy concentrated use it takes over a period of time. Dark leather interiors also do a good job of masking the fact they need to be cleaned and maintained.

The maintenance of your cars interior essentially involves:

  • Cleaning – this process involves agitating the surface to bring the dirt to the surface to be cleaned away
  • Conditioning – treating the interior surfaces weather seats of a dash so that they are supple again (which lessens the degree of leather aging) or protected from UV.

The maintenance regime of your interior covers three broad areas, which are:

  • Vacuuming to get loose dirt and dust out
  • Carpet cleaning and upholstery cleaning
  • Conditioning leather seats


This is done first to remove loose dirt from fabrics, carpets and upholstery so that when spray cleaners and conditioners are applied the liquids don’t liquefy the dust and cause it to go further in the surface and create a large mess.

When vacuuming, it is advisable to do so in two different directions. For example up and down and side to side. This is important and using this technique you move the fibres to ensure all dirt is picked up and removed from the weave. It is important to use the correct vacuum attachment for the task at hand. Seats, dashboard, and centre console all require a brush attachment; this is because the brush helps agitate the surface and is safe to use as it will not scratch.

The usually longer narrow crevice attachment is perfect to reach into areas that are normally overlooked such as under and around seats as well as any compartments. Seats can be moved back and forth to help with this task.

When vacuuming floor mats it is best to take them out of the car and use a small vacuum head attachment. The driver’s side usually takes the greatest abuse so special attention should be paid there.

Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning

Now that we are at the point where loose dirt has been removed we want to use a carpet and upholstery cleaner to do some deep cleaning. There are 3 different degrees of cleaning with the lightest action to the most aggressive being described below.

The first method of carpet and interior upholstery cleaning is to simply spray your product onto microfibre cloth and wipe if over the surface. The reason it is sprayed onto the cloth is to avoid overspray. This is a very light cleaning technique and may not work fully on carpets.

This is where the third technique of using a light brush to cause agitation comes into play. Spray your chosen carpet and fabric cleaner (or leather cleaner) onto the surface then let it sit for a about 10-15 seconds. Then using a small interior brush agitate the cleaner into the surface. Depending on your cleaner, this would normally cause it to foam. This agitating foaming process is helping to bring engrained dirt to the surface. The foam shouldn’t be left to dry out as this means the dirt has seeped back into the surface. Therefore, before that happens simply wipe the surface clean with a clean microfibre cloth (an older one in your collection is good for this task).

At this point you must assess weather you are happy with the results achieved. If the surface being cleaned is heavily soiled then you might need to repeat the process but this time using an upholstery iron brush that has a more aggressive cleaning action. Re-spray the surface and the bristles of the upholstery iron and then very lightly brush the surface. You should take care if it is used on leather that you do not go through the hide or damage the colour of it. As before, while the surface is still wet, wipe clean with a microfibre cloth.

At this point your surfaces should be well cleaned but require time to dry.

Conditioning of Leather Seats

As with your own skin, leather hides must be regularly conditioned to ensure that they remain supple and do not appear aged. Some leather conditioners also return the leather scent back to it.

Using your leather conditioner of choice, for example Zaino Z10, apply some onto a foam pad and then massage it into the pad itself with your fingers. The reason for doing this is that as you move over and condition the surface you can squeeze your pad to release more conditioner. This technique also helps to avoid getting conditioner stuck in the perforated holes that are found in some sports cars. Work your way around the seats making sure you wipe over the surface evenly.


We have put together a Auto Finesse Interior Cleaning kit that has all you require to thoroughly maintain your cars interior.