How to Clean Interior of Cars Like the Pros

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Some weeks it feels like we spend more time in our cars than in our homes. We've been known to do a lot of things in our set of wheels, including everything from eating a quick bite to doing our makeup - all while the car is parked of course. We'll be the first to admit, we clean our actual house more often than we clean our cars, because sometimes we only remember it needs to be cleaned when we are sitting in it and then forget again as soon as we get out. That's why we put this guide together, for people like us who need a little inspiration and direction when it comes to cleaning car interiors. Once you try these tips for yourself, you may even find that it's you, not the pros, that is the best interior car cleaner.

As with any cleaning task, you want to make sure you have the right tools before you begin. And don't worry, if you're not sure what cleaning machines you should be using, we'll help you find the right one with our recommendations in this post.

What you may need for a successful car interior cleaning session:

Once you've got all your tools together, plan to start cleaning from the top down. This way gravity will work in your favor, pulling any dirt and debris you may agitate while cleaning to the ground. To start, throw out any trash or larger items of debris in your car. Check obvious spots like the floors, but also check the easy-to-forget-I-left-that-there spots, like underneath car seats and those pockets on the back of the driver's and passenger seats where the kids love to stuff wrappers and other sticky trash.

Take it From the Top

Take a few moments to look at the roof of your car interior. Then check the seats. If they're fabric, do you see any spots or stains on them? If so, you'll want to make sure you have a stain removal formula on hand that's safe for car interiors. We recommend using INSTAclean Home & Auto PreTreat Stain & Odor Remover. It removes stains in 30 seconds or less, and if you don’t believe us, see for yourself!*


Once you've treated visible spots and stains, grab your glass cleaner and paper towel and make your car interior windows shine. Did you know our Pet Stain Eraser Deluxe Cordless Portable Carpet Cleanercomes with a removable squeegee to clean hard surfaces like mirrors and windows? Plus, when you're done with the hard surfaces, leave the cleaner nearby so you can deep clean your car's seats and rugs.

Nooks and Crannies and Cupholders, Oh My!

Now is the time in your interior car cleaning session that you get to clean all those nooks and crannies you try not to think about while you’re in the car. We’re talking places like cup holders, between and under the seats and the bottom of that center console. Most often, these areas of auto interiors are hard to see, and in turn, they’re easy to forget about when cleaning. That's why our Multi Cordless Handheld Car Vacuum comes with LED lights, to show you all the icky debris that’s built up in your car. You can also use this vacuum and its attachments to clean in and around car vents. A microfiber cloth also works well to clean vents and the dashboard. We also recommend using a garage-specific vacuum like our Garage Pro® to clean car interiors. It comes with a 32-foot hose and 7 car detailing attachments so you can reach almost every corner of your car. If you want a little extra shine, grab a bottle of auto specific cleaner and wipe off the hard interior in your car, including the steering wheel. Just make sure to spray the cleaning formula directly on the cloth, otherwise you run the risk of accidentally spraying the windows you’ve just cleaned!

Use your hand vac to clean the carpets in your car, too. We know cleaning car carpets can be a big task all on its own, that's why we made a full guide to cleaning car carpets. When vacuuming the floors, make sure to remove the rugs and move the seats to get the debris that's hidden underneath.

Once you’ve finished your interior car detailing, treat yourself to some nice air fresheners. This way your car will feel and smell like you’ve given it a complete clean. While you’re at the store getting the air freshener, consider picking up a few other fun things to spruce up your car, like a center console organizer or even a pack of gum, because sometimes it’s the little things! We hope you found this guide and learned not only how to clean car interiors like the pros, but also how easy and satisfying it can be to clean the inside of your car – all by yourself.

*As with any surface cleaning, consumers should follow manufacturer recommendations. We ask that parents check their child car seat’s user guide before using any cleaning product. With that said, Woolite® INSTAclean is a mild detergent with a neutral pH and acceptable for use on many surfaces with everyday stains. We are not aware of any child car seat user guides that prohibit the use of mild cleaning solutions like IINSTAclean