What is detailing a car’s interior and is it worth it?

Car interior detailing is a process that involves deep-cleaning and reconditioning a vehicle’s cabin. A car detailer thoroughly cleans everything inside a car, including seats, carpets, mats, door panels, dashboard, and trim.

The process can be lengthy and involved, but the results are worth it. A car with a clean and well-maintained interior will look great and create a more pleasant and healthy driving experience.

Top 3 reasons you need your car detailed today.

And why it’s always a good idea to have your car routinely detailed by a professional.

1. Improve the way your car looks on the inside.

You want to keep your car looking nice and clean like your house. Nobody wants to get inside a messy car. With regular detailing, you can ensure your vehicle looks its best from the inside out!

2. Make the ride safe and hazard-free for you and your passengers.

A clean interior also has safety and health benefits. You can see all around you better while driving. Less dust and debris reduce allergens and bacteria that can cause illness. And you can breathe better quality air.

3. Increase the resale value of the whole car.

By providing long-lasting protection to the cabin parts, you can increase the resale value of the whole car. The sun’s UV rays can fade and crack things over time. Usual daily tear and wear cause stains and scratches.

That’s why the final stages of interior detailing include applying protective sealants to all the surfaces in the cabin. It provides the car’s interior finish with lasting protection from UV rays and other damage. Plus, it keeps the interior in the best possible shape longer and adds overall value to the car itself.

Removing grime and stains without the need for harsh chemicals.

Now offering steam cleaning.

Here’s a list of some of the advantages of steam cleaning:

  • Eco-friendly.
  • Gentle on fabric and effective in cleaning and disinfection.
  • The high steam temperature kills bacteria, germs, and dust mites.
  • We’ll disinfect your car’s interior today, so you and your family can stay safe and sound on the road tomorrow. 
12-step guide with a video.

How to clean and detail car interiors: a step-by-step tutorial.

This is a detailed video guide on cleaning cars’ interiors.

You’ll find it helpful if you want to learn how to clean the inside of your car yourself. Or if you are curious about what to expect when hiring a professional detailer.

Before you start

Make sure you have enough time dedicated to the task. At least 2-4 hours if working by yourself. Also, ensure you have everything you’ll need to complete the job successfully, including these items:
– Microfiber towels (New, or clean) – 5-10pcs
– Degreaser Spray (General purpose, safe on plastics and fabrics)
– Vacuum cleaner
– Carpet extractor
– Air compressor (if possible)
– Brushes (carpets, upholstery, vents)
– Carpet & upholstery cleaner spray
– Fabric protectant spray
– Air freshener

12-Step Guide

Step 1: De-clutter and remove all unwanted items.

The first and most crucial step is to de-clutter or remove trash and unwanted items. De-cluttering makes the cleaning process much more manageable. 


Step 2: Remove and clean the floor mats.

Remove all floor mats and wash and disinfect them.
Rubber mats: spray degreaser and rinse off with water.
Standard fabric rugs: vacuum first, then spray fabric cleaner.
Finally, scrub with upholstery and carpet brush. Wipe clean with a microfiber towel.


Step 3: Vacuum inside the entire car.

Vacuum the entire cabin, including seats, center console, dashboard, and floor. Focus on getting between the cracks and crevices. Be sure to pay attention to areas that seem particularly dirty or grimy. Always working from top to bottom, keep the vacuum nozzle close to the surface to pick up dust and grime.
Once you’ve vacuumed, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down all the hard surfaces. Pay special attention to the steering wheel and sticky or greasy areas.


Step 4: Steam-clean the door jambs, door seals, and weather stripping.

Steam cleaning is one of the best methods available. Traditional cleaning methods rely on harsh chemicals and abrasive scrubbing. Cleaning with steam uses only hot water to loosen and remove dirt and grime. As mentioned earlier, steam cleaning is:

  • gentler on interior surfaces
  • and more effective in eliminating unpleasant odors
  • the best in stain removal
  • a great way to clean hard-to-reach areas. Dust and dirt accumulate more quickly under the seats and in crevices.
Steam-cleaning the door- jambs,-seals, and weather stripping

Step 5: Re-vitalize the headliner with a gentle but thorough cleaning.

A headliner is one of the essential parts of the vehicle’s interior. It provides a clean look and helps protect the car’s interior from dust and contamination. But be careful. Cleaning a headliner is a delicate car detailing procedure. Here’s a pro tip on how to do it right:

  • First, set the vacuum to the lowest setting and vacuum the headliner before cleaning it. The vacuuming will help to remove any loose dirt and dust. 
  • Next, using a damp cloth, wipe down the headliner. Avoid scrubbing too hard, as this could damage the fabric and the glue attached to the headliner. 
  • Finally, use a dry cloth to wipe away any remaining moisture. Your headliner should be looking good as new now!
Re-vitalize the headliner with gentle but thorough cleaning
Following these simple steps can keep your car’s headliner looking new.

Step 6: Clean the seats – it can make a difference!

Regarding interior auto detailing, the seats are often one of the most overlooked. Take your time and clean your car seats the best you can. It will make the whole car look better. Here are a few tips for cleaning both upholstery seats and leather seats.

Upholstery Seats

Start by vacuuming the surface to remove dirt or debris for upholstery seats and seat covers. Then, use mild soap and a soft brush to scrub any remaining dirt. Use a more powerful cleaner like SONAX Upholstery & Alcantara Cleaner for stubborn stains. Test any cleaner on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it will not damage the fabric. Once you have finished cleaning the seats or seat covers, vacuum again to remove any soap residue.

Leather Seats

For leather seats, start by vacuuming the surface to remove loose dirt and debris. Then, clean the leather seats using a special brush and cleaner. 

SONAX Leather foam

Recommended product for this procedure: SONAX Leather foam. It will clean and protect your delicate leather upholstery in a single step.

Follow the leather cleaner or leather conditioner instructions to avoid damaging the leather. After cleaning the seats or seat covers, vacuum them again to remove any soap residue. 

Step 6 - Cleaning the car seats
By taking the time to clean your car seats, you can help to keep your car’s interior looking its best.

Step 7: Scrub and shampoo floor carpets.

  • Spray the cleaner onto the carpets and scrub with a brush. Be sure to get into all the cracks and crevices.
    Allow the carpets to air dry completely before moving on.
  • You may need to use a more powerful car shampoo or a carpet shampoo for more significant stain removal. Test these products in an inconspicuous area to prevent the car’s flooring damage.
  • Over time, dirt, grime, and stains can make your car look unclean and uninviting. Use a high-quality carpet extractor such as Hart 6-Gallon 5.5 Peak HP 3-in-1 Wet/Dry Shampoo Vac to prevent that. 
The power of the carpet extractor

There’s no need to worry about messy spills or stubborn stains when you have this machine! It can pick up anything from wet towels on your floor to dog hair. You’ll be able to take care of things in minutes without hiring a carpet cleaning company to do your carpets (Imagine the cost!).

Carpet extractors are an essential tool for interior detailing and car upholstery cleaning.
  •  Carpet extractors can clean areas by removing dirt, stains, etc. 
  • They also help stop the growth of mold and mildew by removing moisture from the affected areas. 
In step 7, scrub and shampoo carpets and floors
Carpet extractors use high-powered suction and hot water to clean various surfaces. Moreover, they significantly reduce the need for “elbow grease.” Many swear by carpet extractors to keep their car’s interior spotless. A carpet extractor is necessary if you need to clean a large area of your carpet and remove embedded dirt. It will save you tons of time and money.

Step 8: Clean the plastic trim and vinyl.

This step applies to plastic door panels, dashboards, center consoles, cup holders, etc. 

You can add a drop of dish soap to the water as an alternative to any interior cleaners. Dampen microfiber towels in soapy water and wipe down all plastic surfaces. Be careful around electronics and touchscreen areas. Finish off with a dry clean towel.

Image showing the process of cleaning the plastic trim and vinyl
As a final step, apply trim dressing and vinyl protectant to all the plastic trim areas as shown in the next step.

Step 9: Seal off all the fabric with a protective fabric spray.

If you have fabric seats, spray fabric protectant on your upholstery. Do the same for carpets and floor mats. Carpro CQuartz Fabric Coating is an excellent product for this task. It is easy to use, providing ultimate protection to all fabric surfaces. The product features

  • Excellent protection from UV light
  • It prevents bacteria growth caused by sweat, oils, and grime.
  • It makes maintenance cleaning in the future much easier and less time-consuming.
  • It has superb hydrophobic qualities and repels any liquid right away.

To apply, spray a light coat and let it dry. And now, all the fabric in your car has an extra layer of protection.

showing sealing off all the fabric with a protective fabric spray

Step 10: Clean air vents and a new cabin air filter to promote clean air inside the car.

Professional detailers will always make sure to clean air vents and AC vents. Over time, dust and other debris can accumulate on these surfaces, blocking the free flow of air. The restricted air will impact and deteriorate the air quality in your car.
Luckily, cleaning AC vents is a simple task. Use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to remove any loose dirt and dust.
Scrub away any stubborn residue with a small brush. Next, dry the vents with a paper towel and compressed air to prevent water spots from forming in the future.

Cleaning the air vents in a car's interior

Step 11: Deodorize the interior with your favorite air freshener.

One crucial step in auto detailing is to deodorize the car’s interior. Choose an air freshener with natural ingredients that do not emit harmful fumes. It’ll give the car a final long-lasting touch that can make all the difference. Air deodorants that are less harmful to the environment last longer. And they tend to neutralize any unpleasant odors in your vehicle better.


Step 12 – Final and most crucial step: sparkly clean the glass.

You will need a premium glass cleaner and lint-free towels to clean the windows. We prefer to use Ultra-Premium Glass Cleaner from Griot’s Garage – a premium quality glass cleaner. It is an excellent choice for keeping your car’s windows streak-free and squeaky clean. The foaming action helps loosen contaminants or any grease and oily residues. And it makes it easier to wipe away all the dirty substances leaving the glass squeaky clean, and sparkly. And because it’s ammonia-free, it’s safe for use on all tinted windows.

  • Spray a light mist of the cleaning product onto the glass and wipe it away with a lint-free cloth. 
  • Be sure to clean both the inside and outside of the windows.

The Final Touches

Once you have completed all the above steps and cleaned all the surfaces, you can do some final touch-ups. Vacuum any missed areas and wipe down all the covers with a microfiber cloth one more time. Replace the floor mats, and put all the personal items back into the car.

Car interior cleaning pro tips.

Tip 1: How to make the air freshener inside your car last?

Your car’s AC system can help distribute the air freshener through the entire vehicle area. It will make it last longer and provide better coverage. Follow these three steps:
– Turn the AC on to the highest setting
– Switch the Air Recirculation Mode on
– Spray the air freshener into the footwells near the vents.
The air deodorizing spray will go into the AC system. And every time you turn on the AC, you’ll have fresh-smelling air coming out of the AC vents

Tip 2: Use a microfiber applicator when applying sealants and protectants.

Microfiber applicators are one of the most versatile car care tools available. You can use them to apply various car care products. These applicators will not damage car interiors or leave behind lint or streaks. 
Any local auto parts store has a variety of them. So you can find one that’s perfect for your car detailing needs. Microfiber applicators are easy to use, and they’re inexpensive. You can stock up and always have a few on hand. 

Tip 3: How do you keep your car’s interior free of pet hair?

If you have a furry friend, pet hair can be tough to get rid of- and even tougher to keep off surfaces. There are a few ways to remove pet hair from your clothes, furniture, and car interior parts.
– A lint roller can remove hair from fabric for fair amounts of pet hair. 
– Be sure to vacuum carpets, floors, seats, and door panels as often as possible. 
– For upholstery, use a soft brush designed for pet hair removal. You can find it at any auto parts store.

Tip 4 – Use this simple car wash trick to clean the seat belts.

Many car owners overlook seat belts when they detail their car’s interior. But it is a crucial part of the Seat belts that get touched a lot, and they also keep a lot of dirty stains. The material becomes grubby from food spills, coffee splashes, etc. 
To clean seat belts, mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a bowl. Use a clean microfiber towel to wipe the seat belts with the solution.
This simple car wash trick can make a huge difference to your car’s interior appearance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it usually take for a professional to detail a car’s interior?

When it comes to car detailing services, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The time it takes to detail a car’s interior depends on many factors. The size, the type, and the condition of a vehicle will determine the final cost and the time it will take to detail it. But on average, it takes 2-3 hours per car’s interior to complete the auto detailing job.

What is the average cost of professional interior detailing in Kentucky and Tennessee?

When it comes to car detailing services, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The time it takes to detail a car’s interior depends on many factors. The size, the type, and the condition of a vehicle will determine the final cost and the time it will take to detail it. But on average, it takes 2-3 hours per car’s interior to complete the auto detailing job.

What does interior detailing include, and how is it different from interior cleaning?

There are two different methods of interior detailing. It all depends on your preferences and the condition of your car. A basic wipe-down and vacuum will suffice if your vehicle is almost clean and only needs a good once-over. It is often called interior car cleaning.
But, if your car is messy and needs a deeper cleaning, you’ll want to opt for interior car detailing.
It’s a deep clean with all the steps described above. The complete package includes: 

– washing all fabric material,
– steam cleaning carpets and upholstery, 
– cleaning the steering wheel, console, dashboard, and all other surfaces, 
– conditioning leather seats, etc. 

Of course, this process is more time-consuming, but it’s well worth it if you want to keep your car in tip-top shape.

How often should you do a complete detail of your vehicle’s interior?

We recommend doing a complete cleaning and detailing every 3-4 months. It all depends on how often you drive and your climate. Ideally, You want to have your car detailed every few months. A technician will clean the inside and outside of your car and apply a leather conditioner to all the leather parts. They will also put a protective coating on the most significant areas of the car’s interior. In short, regular car detailing is an integral part of the overall car protective maintenance routine.



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