How to Clean Your Car Interior Properly

Clean sweep.

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan - Ticket to Ride NUVO Spring 2019

Amid the worries with COVID-19, we’ve become hyperconscious of germs, scrubbing our hands and faces tenfold and eyeing any less than immaculate spots in our homes. Our cars are a huge source of touch-traffic too, and keeping them clean is a bit different than sanitizing our kitchen counters and hands.

That luxurious leather upholstery is far less hardy than your usual household surfaces, so cleaning it will take a little more effort and attention to detail. You’ll want to avoid harsh chemicals or cleaners containing ingredients like bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Even alcohol is a risky option, as it can degrade certain materials.


Fortunately, most of the high-touch surfaces in your car, like the handles, push-button start, seatbelts, gear selector, stalks, and touch screens are made of plastic or metal. They can be wiped with soap and water, or isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Most disinfectant wipes work pretty well too, but your infotainment screens should be treated a bit differently.

Because many screens use some kind of anti-glare or anti-fingerprint coating, they can get damaged by alcohol- and ammonia-based cleaners. A specialized screen cleaning solution will do the trick, as will a mixture of water and vinegar.

If you’re unsure about a certain chemical’s impact on your interior, check your owner’s manual for specific solutions. Or you can spot test it, which means trying your cleaning method in an inconspicuous area.



More Delicate Areas

After wiping down these high-touch surfaces, it’s important to look at parts of the car that are covered with leather or other fabrics. Leather is always tricky because using alcohol or detergents can dry out these organic materials. Most are also dyed or stained a uniform colour, and using alcohol can leave them discoloured. Some detailers recommend makeup remover wipes, which include moisturizers, so your leather won’t dry out and crack.

If you must use an alcohol-based cleaner on your leather, then you’ll need to use a leather conditioner to help restore your leather’s natural oils and keep it feeling soft and luxurious.

Alcantara materials and trim are a bit more difficult to clean without the right chemicals. Rubbing these surfaces too hard will ruin their texture, and you can’t use a steam cleaner on them either. In this case, it’s important to refer to your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning solution to keep these areas germ-free.

Anything you wipe on these surfaces must be wiped off. Leaving chemicals on these sensitive materials for too long can cause damage. As such, don’t spray or pour anything directly onto the surface. Put it on a rag first, then wipe it on the surface. Microfibre towels are better than paper towels, which can get caught on the textured elements of your upholstery and tear, leaving behind some debris.

Cleaning the car may seem a bit more complicated than cleaning your house, but it’s important to keep our vehicles germ-free as well.

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