DIY Car Detailing – A Guide to Automotive Detailing

DIY Car Detailing – A Guide to Automotive Detailing

How To Do Your Own Car Detailing For Your Vehicle’s Interior

A car is both a vital tool and a significant investment; it needs to be maintained and protected. Keeping the interior of the vehicle clean is just as important as cleaning the exterior. A dirty interior isn’t just unpleasant to the eye (and nose!). It can actually cause or worsen genuine mechanical problems.

If you don’t clean the air vents properly, they may be spreading allergens and contaminants throughout the cabin. If your mirrors and windows are spotted, you may have dangerously obscured the driver’s view. Dirt, grime, and other unwanted debris can gum up the workings of control buttons and other important mechanisms. Conscientious cleaning of the interior is known as “detailing” because attention to detail is its defining characteristic. Detailing involves much more than clearing out old receipts and discarded water bottles. Detailing is important enough that many owners turn to professionals to handle it. A professional job can cost $100 or even more. There is nothing stopping you from handling detailing on your own, though. We at Total Car Detailing are committed to helping you keep the cleanest set of wheels possible.

Want to do your own detailing right in your driveway? Here’s a reasonable procedure:


To vacuum a car’s interior properly, you’ll need a vacuum cleaner with an extension hose and appropriate attachments. The best way to proceed is to start with the ceiling and work your way down. This allows you to “clean up” behind yourself and collect dislodged debris after it falls. Your vacuum’s upholstery nozzle is perfect for the seats, headliner, and other upholstered surfaces. Don’t forget the rear parcel shelf! This is also the perfect time to vacuum the trunk or rear cargo space. Floor mats should be removed from the vehicle and cleaned separately. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, remove the spare tire and vacuum its compartment, too. The crevice tool is perfect for seat pockets, sunshades, and other places where space is at a premium.

You can use your vacuum’s dusting brush to clean metal, plastic, and vinyl components. You want to avoid scratching these surfaces with the harder vacuum nozzle. The floor brush is perfect for vacuuming the carpet. Shift the seats forward and backward to vacuum beneath them. To do a thorough job, take removable seats out for better access to the carpet beneath them.

If you have an air compressor, this is the perfect time to put it to use. It can blow dust and other debris out of tight dashboard spaces. Take a trip to any auto parts store and you’ll encounter a vast range of cleaning products designed for car surfaces – carpet, leather, plastic, upholstery, and more. Specially-formulated cleaners are not, in fact, required. Just exercise common sense when using household cleaners in your car. If you’re doubtful about how a particular product will react with a particular surface, test it first on a small, inconspicuous area.


The very best results you can get on any carpet-cleaning job require a steam cleaner. Buying one or renting one just to take care of your car is a bit pricey. If you do intend to steam-clean your home carpets, though, bear in mind that using the cleaner on your car at the same time is a great idea. Without a steam cleaner, your next-best bet is using a general carpet cleaning product. After spraying it on, work the cleaner into the carpet using a stiff-bristled brush. Do not apply too much product; you want to avoid damaging electrical equipment or leaving your carpets wet enough for mildew growth. Use specialty products to tackle any problem stains on your carpets – oil, gum, makeup, tar, and so forth.

Cloth Upholstery

If you have a steam cleaner, see if it can be used directly on upholstery. It may require a specific shampoo or attachment. To clean upholstery without a steam cleaner, use a spray-on product. This should be worked in with a brush (a soft one) and left to dry. Remember to clean the seat belts, seat joins, and rear parcel shelf at the same time.


Use saddle soap, leather cleaner, or any mild soap suitable for leather. rub it in gently with a damp cloth. Use a clean cloth to remove the excess soap. Cotton swabs can come in handy for getting the excess out of seams.


Wash the insides of the windows with glass cleaner. To prevent overspray and streaking, spray the cleaner onto the cloth rather than the windows.

Hard Surfaces

A general all-purpose cleaner should be suitable for cleaning the dashboard, interior trim, and door moldings. This too should be sprayed on a cloth rather than the surfaces being cleaned. Use a suitable tool to clean tight spaces like panel seams, control buttons, and air vents. Cotton swabs, damp toothbrushes, and small paintbrushes all work well. Remember to clean the seatbelt buckles, closing containers (e.g. the glove box), and ashtrays, if your car has them.

Extra Touches For Automotive Detailing

Leather Conditioning

A specially-formulated leather conditioner can be used after cleaning. This locks moisture into the material and keeps it from drying out. You may find similar products for use on vinyl and plastic. Check products carefully to confirm that they will not leave behind grease and stain clothes.


A “second sweep” with the vacuum cleaner will remove any stray dirt knocked down during your detailing.

Odor Treatment

An intense detailing session may leave behind intense odors from the cleaning products you’ve used. Odor-removing products can help eliminate this unwanted after-effect. To learn more about handling car smells, see our in-depth report on the subject. Be sure to have a look at our Detailing Tips to make sure you stay up to date.

However, if you find that there’s just not enough time in the day to ensure a proper shine to your ride, give us a call, schedule a mobile detailing, or contact us so we can get your wheels looking nice and fresh!

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