Step by Step Guide to Interior Detailing
Regular vacuuming and dusting of your car's interior is the best way to keep it looking good. However, surface cleaning alone is not enough. Two to three times a year you will need to detail the upholstery to keep it looking its best.
Personally, I like products that leave a nice matte finish or low sheen, but that is personal preference. My favourite detailer is 1z einszett cockpit premium, but I also like the protection in ultima interior guard plus.
Step 1 Vacuum
First and foremost, you need to regularly vacuum your cars interior. There's no special trick here, you just need a good vacuum, and make the time to do it.
First, pull out the floor mats and shake them or bang them to remove any loose dirt. Vacuum the mats and set aside, making sure to really scrub the mats with the vacuum nozzle end to loosen any embedded dirt.
Next, start in the rear area of the vehicle. Push the front seats all the way forward, and use the crevice tool to vacuum the cracks of the seats, and between the seats and carpeted area. Now vacuum the rear carpet, and make sure you use the crevice tool to vacuum around the seat tracks and under the front seats and any door panels.
Once done in the rear area, push the front seats all the way back to work on the front upholstery. Use the crevice tool to vacuum the cracks of the seats, between the seats and carpeted areas, and around the gas and brake pedals, and then vacuum the carpet in the foot wells and the seats (if the seats are fabric), the console, vents and door panels.
Step 2 Dashboard and Console
The dashboard and rear deck of a vehicle take the brunt of damage from sun exposure, heat and UV rays. In order to keep your dash from cracking and fading, regular treatment is necessary.
Caring for the dash and console is really pretty easy. Simply wipe them down with a damp microfiber towel every time you wash your car, and treat them with a vinyl protectant once or twice a month. To reduce the effects of the sun's UV rays, use products like 303 aerospace protectant, 1z cockpit premium, or Ultima interior Guard plus which all contain protective UV protectants like sunscreens. These are my personal favorites because they create a nice matte finish. Other glossier products are out there, but they are usually silicone based, and therefore are shinier, and attract dust easily.
Another tip is to use a swiffer duster on the dash and hard to reach areas, but stay away from the pledge and other furniture type cleaners here.
The easiest way to treat the dash and console is to use a foam applicator pad. Always spray your protectant on the applicator, not on the dash or console, and wipe it in thoroughly. This will prevent overspray on your glass and upholstery. Allow the vinyl protectant to soak in for 3 to 5 minutes, and then buff dry to a nice matte finish.
Make sure to also dust and clean out the vents and grillwork. The damp microfiber or swiffer will work great here, but so will a ca of compressed air. If for some reason the plastic or vinyl is heavily soiled, look to a cleaner before the dressing or protectant such as 1z plastic deep cleaner, or ultima interior shampoo.
If your vents are disgustingly dirty, use a cotton swab or foam swab to clean out the dirt. A good vinyl cleaner and protectant works well on a foam swab to clean and beautify vents and speaker grilles.
On consoles with a lot of nooks and crannies, it's best to use a soft bristled brush followed by a towel to clean and protect. This same method works well around buttons and controls on the dash.
Step 3 Door Panels and Jambs
Next move to the door panels. Door panels are often made of several materials, including fabric, vinyl, carpet and leather. Vinyl can be scrubbed to remove shoe scuffs. All Purpose Cleaners (APCs) like 303 Aerospace Cleaner or Ultima Waterless Wash easily remove black scuff marks from these areas.
Thoroughly clean around door handles, pulls and window cranks, using a toothbrush and soapy wash water or for more stubborn stains, APC. Be sure to clean and dry the speaker grilles and the wells on armrests, too. If the door panels have storage pockets, use your sponge or wash mitt to clean in these areas, as they tend to collect a lot of dirt and crud. Next, use your sponge or wash mitt and soapy water to clean all the way around the door frame and the doorsill. When you're finished, dry the door completely with a clean towel, and treat with a spray wax or detail spray such as Duragloss aquawax.
If your door panel is leather or vinyl, be sure to treat it with a leather or vinyl protectant. Fabric door panels can be treated with a fabric protectant, like 303 High Tech Fabric Guard, or CarPro fabric and leather guard to reduce staining and fading.
Step 4 Leather Seats and Trim
The simplest way to prolong the life of your leather interior is to vacuum it regularly. To clean your leather seats and trim, wipe the leather with a soft cloth dampened cloth, or a very soft bristled brush (horsehair brush). Many people have also suggested a 90 per cent water and a 10 per cent woolite mixture, then buff with a clean dry cloth, but I tend to stick to tried and tested leather products such as leatherique and Sonax Leather Foam.
Most leather in cars is a treated or coated leather, and therefore the conditioners in some of the protectants only sits on top of the leather and actually attracts dirt. For me, the damp wipe down usually cleans the seats and trim, but I love having a non greasy dressing on top.
Work the leather protectant into seams, edges and seat backs with a sponge or cleaning cloth, let soak, and buff excess after a few minutes.
Step 5 Detailing Plastic and Vinyl Parts
Spray vinyl, plastic and imitation leather surfaces with 1z einszett cockpit premium or your favorite cleaner. If your cleaner requires rinsing 9if you are using an APC ALWAYS rinse), wash the vinyl and plastic thoroughly with fresh water and a clean microfiber detailing towel.
Next, dry the upholstery with a clean, dry microfiber detailing towel, and allow the vinyl and plastic to dry. Apply your favorite vinyl dressing to restore protection and sheen. I also like to use something called Sonus Total Eclipse...forgot to mention that above. Always look for your dressing to contain UV protection, and I like a mate finish so there is no reflection from the dash onto the windshield when driving on bright sunny days,
One of my favourites is Ultima Interior Guard Plus, and it has the unique characteristic of taking on the original surface finish. So, when applied to a matte finish, Ultima Interior Guard Plus looks flat and applied to a glossy finish, like wood trim, Ultima Interior Guard Plus takes on a high gloss finish.
Step 6 Windows
The interior glass should be the last thing you do to avoid re-contaminating it during the detailing process.
Always work out of the sun and on dry cool windows. The sun can cause glass cleaner to evaporate too quickly and leave residues.
Lightly dampen your microfiber towel with your cleaner of choice. I recommend Wellworth Crystal Glass Cleaner or Sonax Glass cleaner. You want to avoid any cleaners with ammonia like Windex, as ammonia can be harsh on tint.
Spray the cleaner on the window, and wipe up and down and then side to side using long strokes. Flip the towel to a dry side to remove any remaining wetness from the windshield. Do the same on the back window.
Be sure to roll down your side windows about half way so you can clean the top edges of the glass. I like to use a fine nap microfiber for glass, or the stoners glass cleaning tool, but many report newsprint as a great medium for cleaning windows.
Step 7 Carpets and floor mats
Most automotive carpets are very durable and will withstand repeated shampooing without signs of damage or wear. Regular vacuuming of carpets is usually enough, but sometimes, you will have to clean stains or spills.
If you dont have a steam cleaner or extractor at your disposal, one can be rented fairly cheap, or the Bissell mean green machine for 80 bucks at Wal-Mart works great.
Also you could consider spot treating the carpets with a good foaming carpet cleaner such as duragloss Fabric and Carpet Cleaner, or 3m Scotchgard Carpet Cleaner.
Follow these easy steps:
Spray spots and heavily soiled areas with your cleaner or spot remover
Fill a bucket with 2 gallons of warm water.
Lightly spray a section of carpet (no more than 2 square feet at a time) with your carpet and upholstery cleaner. Use an upholstery brush or a sponge in a circular motion to agitate the upholstery. Dip your brush in water to keep it wet, but apply as little water as possible.
Wipe away the suds with a sponge or a damp detailing towel.
Empty your bucket of soapy water and refill with clean, warm water.
Rinse your carpet with clean water by wiping with a damp terry cloth towel. Rinse the soap from your towel often and wring it out. Use as little water as possible, but rinse thoroughly.
Vacuum your carpet with a shop vac to extract the remaining rinse water.
Allow the carpet to dry overnight before using.
Once dry, keep your carpet and floor mats looking great, by using use a fabric protectant like 303 High Tech Fabric Guard, or carpro fabric and leather guard.