Spring cleaning your car interior

Spring cleaning your car interior

To a greater or lesser extent, most of us prefer to live in a clean home with sparkling smear-free windows, shiny surfaces and furnishings that do not have that lingering smell of wet dog. Why is it then that we don’t have the same caring attitude to the interiors of our cars? Old kebab wrappers lie with dog hairs, dust and general detritus and don’t even think about the state of the steering wheel. There’s absolutely no reason, especially at difficult times like these, that the passenger compartment should not receive the same care that the home does.

The good weather is here, sort of, and many of us are somewhat confined to barracks by the Coronavirus guidelines. Plenty of opportunity then to get outside and attend to our car interiors.


In the case of this terrible virus, there’s no such thing as overkill, especially for key workers. Driving is still currently allowed during the UK lockdown for those who need to use their cars to nip to the shops, head to work or attend any medical appointments, so, although it is a bit of a stretch, drivers need to take extra care of in-car cleanliness.

Don’t go overboard though; bleach and peroxide-based cleaners may kill germs but they’ll also damage vinyl and plastic, and probably discolour materials too, so here’s some tips for extra-attentive automotive cleaning:


Clean the seats and, where appropriate, the door panels with warm soap and water or fabric cleaning products. Don’t soak; a light brush will do. Using some form of disinfectant after cleaning might help with extra protection but make sure it is a car-friendly product. Cleaning first ensures dirt, organic matter and those stubborn child-based stains are removed from surfaces.

It’s the same for leather; warm soap and water without scrubbing too hard or using excess suds and water. Work with a microfibre cloth if possible to avoid scratches. Finish with a suitable treatment to keep the leather supple.

Plastics, Metals & Vinyl

For a proper clean, use materials specifically for interior metals and plastic, vinyl and leather. When using these products, especially aerosols, follow the guidance on the manufacturer labels and the safety precautions. Pay particular attention to the steering wheel and driver-focused switchgear. In cars, as a matter of course, we routinely sneeze and cough and the wheel bears the brunt. Unhygienic steering wheels have been shown to harbour more germs than a lavatory pedestal!

For many surfaces household products may suit or, since a visit to the motor factor can’t be considered essential, order products online. Remember; modern cars are chock full of expensive electronics; don’t be splashing water around, especially in the area of the dashboard. It may also be an idea, particularly if others are using the car, to carefully disinfect with wipes the door handles, window buttons and the like. Last but not least, attend to the mats and carpets with a vacuum cleaner and a brush. Carpets will last longer when free of grit and mud.

Last job: Clean the interior glass. There are plenty of window cleaning products around but use them sparingly otherwise it will take arm-achingly ages to buff it up. Although old remedies are considered unfashionable, wet and dry using good old kitchen roll is a very effective and cheap solution.

Glove Up

Taking care of car hygiene is one thing, taking care of yourself is another. If possible, wear disposable gloves while doing the work and carry wipes on board for after touching supermarket trolleys and so on.

So, while being trapped at home isn’t much fun, why not lavish a little love on the motor? It will make the driving experience more pleasant for all and also provides an opportunity to give the vehicle a good once-over for any possible issues or defects, now that we are slowly being allowed out. If in doubt about any mechanical or electrical concerns contact your local garage for advice and remember to check on the latest rules for the MOT test.

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