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How to Clean and Maintain Your Car Interior


April 24, 2018 Cars By
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There is serious satisfaction to be found in keeping your car looking showroom fresh. Much of that includes washing and waxing your car to protect its finish on the outside, but — like your mother always said — its what’s on the inside that counts. Since you spend more time in the car than on it, the interior can get dirty and worn in a flash.

So rather than letting your leather seats become cracked and worn, or letting those Alcantara accents get dirty and matted, spend some quality time every couple of months to make sure your interior is taken care of. To help, we’ve broken down what you need to do, and everything you need to keep three common interior surfaces looking fresh and clean.

Leather

Keep Your Seats Supple

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Leather has pretty much become the de facto interior option, and while it’s fairly resistant to stains and can put up with daily wear and tear, if it’s not properly cleaned and conditioned, leather will lose its natural oils, become stiff and crack.

You can clean leather interiors simply by vacuuming out any loose debris, then applying a mild, pH-neutral leather cleaner (harsher cleaners will strip seats of their natural oils) to a microfiber cloth. Rub the cleaner into the leather in a circular motion, then wipe it dry with a clean cloth. Once the seats are clean, apply a thin layer of conditioner to the seats using a soft sponge. (Try a spot test in a small, hidden area to make sure it has no ill effects on your car’s leather.) Let the conditioner absorb into the seats for two hours, then buff it out with a clean microfiber cloth.

TriNova Leather Cleaner $16
Leather Honey Leather Conditioner $19
Meguiar’s Supreme Shine Microfiber Cloth $5
Autofiber Microfiber Sponge $15

Cloth

Scrub Out Caked-On Dirt

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Admittedly, cloth interiors are becoming harder to find, but if you have an older car from when cloth seats were more common (or spec’d the cloth interior option in the configurator), you’ll want to give your seats a deep clean a few times a year.

Start by using a shop-vac to remove any loose debris from the seat’s crevices and top layer of fabric. Lightly spray the seat’s surface (do not over-saturate) one spot at a time, then massage the area with a stiff interior brush, bringing any deep-rooted dirt to the surface. Finally, wipe up the dirt with a microfiber cloth. Repeat the process until the entire surface is clean.

Mother’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner $14
Chemical Guys Detail Brush $7
Detailer’s Choice Microfiber Cleaning Cloth $6

Alcantara

Maintain the Soft Texture

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Alcantara has become the go-to material in high-end performance cars because a) it has the same texture as suede but isn’t as much of a pain in the ass to maintain and b) it evokes the interiors of race cars, and manufacturers are all about drawing that comparison. Much like suede or its budget counterpart microsuede, Alcantara fibers can get matted down and trap dirt.

For the most part, a soft brush can be used on a regular basis (about once a week) to keep it feeling fresh, but for deeper cleans an Alcantara cleaner does wonders. After brushing the material, apply the cleaner to the sponge and work it into the interior surface. Wipe it down with a damp cloth and let it dry — then, brush the Alcantara again to keep the fibers from getting matted down.

Sonax Alcantara Cleaner $15
AM Arnold Interior and Upholstery Brush $8
Griot’s Garage Detail Sponge $7
Griot’s Garage Microfiber Interior CLoth $18
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