How to Deep Clean your Car

For many of us, cleaning the car means driving through one of those automatic car washes you find at the back of gas stations. It’s convenient and does a reasonably good job for the cost. However, don’t ignore what is missed, like the grime that can build up on the inside door frames, windows, and wheel rims. Or worse, the INSIDE of your car…ugh! You can try blaming the kids again, but your friends are beginning to doubt that your kids drink that much coffee. 

Whether you’re preparing for a road trip, selling your car, or would just like to bring back that new car feel, there’s no need to fret, it takes only a few hours to transform your car’s lived-in look to a condition even the most discriminating in-law will respect.


Start with the Big Stuff

Remove everything. Don’t forget the Glovebox and the center console. Put all the things that belong in the car in a bag or box, then in a separate box, put the items that don’t belong in your vehicle, but you want to keep. Don’t worry about putting those things away yet. You don’t want to throw off your cleaning rhythm. Next, toss everything else in the trash, and in just a few minutes, your car will look significantly better. 


Getting Down to Business

A pressurized air hose is the best tool for blowing out all the loose crumbs and dust from hard-to-reach nooks and crevices. If you don’t have access to one, a powerful vacuum with a crevice tool should do the trick. Remove the floor mats and vacuum everything, moving the seats up or back as you go. If you have any pets that enjoy car rides, you may need to get yourself a Pet Hair Removal Stone to dislodge the hair from the carpet. Be careful to keep it away from your vinyl or leather seats, because it will scratch them.

After vacuuming, spray any carpet stains liberally with CLR® STAIN MAGNET CARPET FABRIC AND FLOOR CLEANERFor heavily soiled areas, agitate with a hard bristle brush, then spray more solution and let sit for 10 minutes. Blot thoroughly with a dry clean cloth and vacuum again. Do the same for your floor mats. Floor mats tend to get the most soils. If you have a pressure washer, you can use it to remove impeded dirt. Never put wet floor mats back in the car until they are completely dry. Set them out in the sun or use a fan to help them dry. 


Cleaning the Vinyl & Other Hard Surfaces

Time to clean the seats, dashboard, and all the other hard surfaces inside the car. You may be surprised to learn, but CLR® OUTDOOR FURNITURE CLEANER also works well for cleaning the surfaces inside your vehicleIts powerful foaming spray cleans plastic, vinyl, and other hard surfaces while providing UV protection from the sun. Always test on a hidden area of the surface before beginning to clean. When cleaning, apply the solution to a clean damp cloth, brush, or directly to the surface to be cleaned. Spray directly inside the cup holders and let sit for a few minutes to break up the buildup grim. Use a soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush to move the solution around the vents and hard to reach areas. Wipe with a damp rag, then dry with a micro-fiber cloth. Note: If you have leather seats, use a cleaner specially formulated for leather. 



Unless you regularly have passengers, or multiple people driving your car, you shouldn’t have to worry about sanitizing. But if you feel the need, you can use a disinfectant wipe on the door handles and steering wheel. However, use sparingly—the ingredients in some disinfectants can have adverse health effects, especially in closed areas like the cabin of a vehicle. 


Calcium Build-up on the Windows

Automatic car washes don’t clean the light-colored build up you often see on windows, especially the tops of the side windows and under the wiper blades. In a well-ventilated area, mix equal amounts of CLR® CALCIUM, LIME, & RUST REMOVER and warm water and pour it on a clean microfiber towel. Lightly wipe the areas of the glass only avoiding any contact with the frame, trim, track, windshield wipers or paint of the car, hand remove from the glass (do not spray) with a clean cloth or sponge and cold water, and dry. 


Spot Cleaning the Outside

For stubborn oily residue, you should use CLR® GREASE MAGNET. Wipe or brush off the loose, massive deposits. Then spray on full strength and clean with a sponge, rag, or brush. Immediately rinse with cold water. With the same CLR® Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover and water solution, you can also clear up any surface rust you might notice, especially on chrome or steel wheel rims. Avoid painted surfaces, and do not use on rims that are plastic or steel alloy, as the acids may cause etching.