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If we were to tell you that there's a room where people eat, sleep and spend hours a day in, you'd probably assume it gets cleaned pretty often. But when it comes to the interiors of our cars, that's not always the case!
TODAY Home asked Christian Newman, a professional auto detailer and owner of C & J Automotive Detailing in Slidell, Louisiana, how to clean like a pro. He’s got some great tips for keeping vehicles looking like new.
How often should you clean?
Newman suggests going through the steps below about once a month, or as needed. If you have school pickups, carpools and sports practices on the horizon, you may want to step that up to twice a month.
President of the International Detailing Association. Michael Dickson, recommends a professional detailing about twice a year.
What should you do?
1. Vacuum carpet, floor mats, upholstery, cup holders and any other compartments. To remove pet hair, wipe area with a dry kitchen glove or use a Pet Rock to snag and grab unseen hair and fur from carpet and upholstery.
Pet Rock Hair Removal Tool, $17, ProfessionalDetailingProducts.com
2. “Door jambs are one of the first parts of a car you see when you get in, so keep them clean,” Newman said of the hinges, nuts and bolts that keep the door in place. Wipe with a microfiber cloth that’s been dampened in a diluted mixture of all-purpose auto cleaner. Newman recommends Blue Max General Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser.
Using one section of the cloth at a time, wipe the entire door jamb: around the edges, under the door, the hinges and where the door meets the body of the car. Pay attention to areas that hold moisture as they often have mold and mildew.
Chemical Guys Super Cleaner, $14, Amazon
Pro tip: Wear kitchen gloves when working with cleansers, advises Newman.
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3. Wipe all hard vinyl areas with a clean microfiber cloth that's been dampened in all-purpose cleaning solution. This includes the dashboard, instrument panel, compartments, door handles, vinyl on doors, seat belt connections, glove box, side compartments in doors, shift and steering wheel.
To clean the crevice between the steering wheel and the steering column, slide a damp microfiber cloth between the two parts and work it to remove dust and dirt. Rinse cloth in clean water when it gets dirty and dampen it again with cleaning solution. Use a dry one-inch round parts brush to clean crevices that the microfiber can’t reach.
Cleaning Brush, $5, Amazon
3. Use a protective coating to dress hard vinyl surfaces. Dampen a clean, general-purpose microfiber cloth with satin finish vinyl dressing (like Car Brite Special Protect All or ArmorAll). This allows you to control where the product goes. Wipe all hard vinyl surfaces but avoid the steering wheel. (It makes the steering wheel too slick to hold on to.)
ArmorAll, $7, Amazon
4. Spray cup holders with cleaning solution. Use a brush to scrub the inside and finish by wiping the cup holder with a damp microfiber cloth.
5. Clean windows and mirrors with a microfiber cloth that’s specially made for glass. Fold the cloth in fourths. Spray the window with auto window cleaner (yes, it's different than Windex!).
To prevent streaking, wipe the window horizontally as you clean. Polish with a dry section of the cloth, wiping in a vertical direction to avoid streaks. It make it easier, you may want to use one cloth for cleaning and another for polishing.
Invisible Glass, $10, Amazon
6. Clean leather or vinyl upholstery with a lotion-based cleaner that’s made for leather. (Note: Leather cleaner can be used on vinyl, but vinyl cleaner cannot be used on leather.)
“Leather is a hide and, just like our skin, it needs moisturizing; so use cleaners that are lotion-based,” Newman advised. “Never use water or watery cleansers on leather. These can cause the leather to split, crack and dry out.”
TriNova Leather Conditioner, $16, Amazon
Cloth upholstery can be spot-cleaned using a solution of Tide Plus Bleach Alternative and water. (Add just a splash of the solution; enough to make the water soapy.) Dampen a microfiber cloth in the solution, wring out and blot the spot. For stubborn spots, lightly work the stain using a scrub brush and a bit of soapy solution. Suction away cleaning solution using a wet/dry vac. To rinse, lightly spray spot with clean water then suction immediately with a wet/dry vac. Allow to air dry before using car.
Tide Plus Bleach, $16, Amazon
7. Remove floor mats and wash with a soapy solution, using a scrub brush to clean difficult areas. Rinse. Allow to dry before replacing in car.
8. Spot-clean carpet as needed with an auto carpet cleaner, but leave the deep cleaning to the pros.
Turtle Wax Carpet and Mat Cleaner, $5, Amazon
“Thoroughly clean carpet once a year but let a pro do it,” said Newman. “Too often, DIY-ers overly wet the carpet, soak the pad and end up with mold and mildew problems.”