Professional detailing can cost anywhere from $200 to $500, but doing it yourself can be surprisingly inexpensive and straightforward. Plus, you likely already have many of the tools and materials needed. Keeping your car “like new” can increase its resale value by hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.
Carpet and Seats
Crumbs, spills, and dirt can start to smell if not regularly cleaned.
What to do: Vacuum the carpet and cloth upholstery using the right attachment for the job. An upholstery tool’s short bristles can agitate dirt out of cloth; a crevice tool can reach under and in between seats and into corners. A steam cleaner lifts stains from carpet and upholstery, but soap and water on a soft cloth works, too.
What not to do: Don’t soak seats; damp cushions encourage mold and can create a musty smell.
Leather and Vinyl
Leather and vinyl are treated with a protective coating that requires gentle cleaning.
What to do: Clean them with a soft cloth and a small amount of dish or saddle soap and water. Follow with leather conditioner to keep the leather from drying out.
What not to do: Never use products containing bleach or hydrogen peroxide. And avoid commercial detailing sprays that leave the dashboard surface looking wet or glossy, because that can create glare.
Solutions containing at least 70 percent alcohol are safe to use on most hard interior surfaces of a vehicle, and are also effective against the coronavirus, according to the CDC.
What to do: Dampen a small, clean paintbrush or soft toothbrush to clean vents, seams, and cup holders. Then apply alcohol to a microfiber cloth to gently clean other hard surfaces.
What not to do: Don’t use paper towels, which can leave a trail of lint behind.
The inside of the windshield and other windows can become dirty from outside air pollution and also from interior vapors that leave residues and may impede visibility.
What to do: Clean with a soft cloth (preferably chamois) and a glass cleaner containing alcohol. Use two cloths to avoid streaks: Apply the product with one, and wipe the glass clean with the other.
What not to do: To avoid getting cleaner on your upholstery, always remember to spray the cloth and not the glass.
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