By Prentice St. Clair, CD-SV, RIT
The interior of your car is where you spend perhaps as much time “indoors” as you do your home. Those who like to have a clean home likely enjoy a clean vehicle interior as well. Interior care involves cleaning, protecting, and deodorizing. Let’s talk about how to keep your vehicle interior looking great using the Proje products for interiors!
Step One: Vacuum
There are really two levels of interior cleaning that might be needed in your vehicle. Your vehicle may be in need of true “detailing”, which is a thorough, systematic cleaning and protecting of all the interior surfaces. This is the kind of service provided by a professional auto detailer, but it certainly can by done by the do-it-yourself enthusiast as well. On the other hand, maybe your vehicle is relatively clean, and you just want to keep it that way with regular interior “touch-up” care.
In either case, Proje has a line of products that will simplify your interior cleaning regimen, resulting in a “mobile living room” that looks and smells great for you and your passengers. What follows is a systematic, step-by-step method of cleaning the entire interior of your vehicle, the way the pros do it.
Interior care begins with a good vacuum. We need to get rid of the random dirt and debris from the obvious areas like the footwells and seats, as well as the excess dust on all the surfaces like the dashboard top, vents, door pockets, etc. The less dust there is on the vinyl and plastic surfaces, the less “mud” is created as we spray our cleaners on those surfaces.
No, we’re not talking about the top bill at a music festival, but instead, the cloth-like material that lines the ceiling of your car. It may be covered with a layer of dust, finger smudges, and even dried-up splatters from spilled drinks. In any case, great care must be taken when dealing with the headliner, as it can be relatively fragile material when compared to the high contact materials on the remainder of the vehicle interior.
If your vacuum came with an attachment that has as soft bristle component, like hogshair or horsehair, you might try gently vacuuming the headliner using this. You will find that it removes the coating of dust that often accumulates on the headliner. It will also remove some of the splatters and even finger smudges, thus reducing the necessity to use any liquid cleaners on the headliner.
Should there be any remaining stains, clean them carefully with this simple process: First, mist a RedPRO Micro Fiber Towel with either Proje’s Alpha Interior Cleaner or Upholstery & Fabric Cleaner. Then carefully wipe the area, followed by flipping the towel and gently drying the area. Honestly, if this does not remove the stain to your satisfaction, it’s probably time to go to a professional detailer (go to www.detailingnearby.com to find a reputable professional that is a member of the International Detailing Association).
I do not recommend spraying anything into the headliner material, as this can cause the adhesive that is holding the fabric in place to loosen, causing a sag. And even if that doesn’t happen, you will end up with a large spot where the cleaner was sprayed, and this spot may end up being more noticeable than the original stain! By the same token, using any kind of brush or scrubbing device other than a towel is not recommended.
Dash/Door Panels/Center Console
Next, it’s time to clean up the plastic and vinyl inside the car. This includes the dash, door panels, center console, and many other surfaces in the vehicle, like the plastic panels that line the sides of the footwells. For these surfaces, we will use a chemical that is designed specifically for vehicle interior surfaces, Proje’s Alpha Interior Cleaner. This is an effective chemical that is easy to use but also safe. It is pH neutral, so that it will not harm the surfaces with harsh chemical agents like some high-pH all-purpose cleaners.
There are several ways to apply Interior Cleaner, depending on the particular work area, as well as how dirty it is. If the panels are relatively clean, you can spray the cleaner onto a RedPRO Microfiber Towel and wipe the surface until clean. If a larger or more dirty area is to be cleaned, I suggest a technique I call “spray-scrub-wipe”. Mist the area with Interior Cleaner, then let it dwell for a minute or two. You can scrub the area using our Easy Reach Crevice Brush, which is also great for cleaning vents, cup holders, door pockets, and similar recesses in the vehicle.
For deep-cleaning of larger areas like a full door panel, for example, I also like to use the Tire Dressing Short Handle brush as my scrubbing device, because it covers so much area at one time, but also has the thousands of individual bristles to get into all the nooks and crannies. Of course, dedicate a new Short Handle brush as your “interior cleaning brush” for just this purpose, and another one for actually using for tire dressing!
After you have sprayed and scrubbed the area, wipe away the leftover chemical and loosened soil with a WhitePRO Microfiber Towels.
So, to review, when cleaning interior plastic and vinyl panels:
- SPRAY: with Alpha Interior Cleaner and let dwell;
- SCRUB: with your favorite interior cleaning brush; and
- WIPE: with a RedPRO Microfiber towel.
What about the Brightwork?
So, what do you do about all the shiny surfaces like chrome, painted, or piano lacquer trim moldings that are often built into or adjacent to the plastic and vinyl panels? Well, Alpha Interior Cleaner is safe on all of these surfaces as well. So, you don’t have to worry about getting Alpha on these surfaces as you are misting the plastic panels. You can even clean away smudges and grime from these surfaces with Alpha.
Now, it may be a challenge to get the brightwork completely streak free after cleaning, but this problem is easily solved by coming back later during the final touch-up of the interior and wiping these shiny surfaces with Proje’s Surge Quick Detailer. Simply spray Surge onto a clean RedPRO Micro Fiber Towel and wipe the surfaces until streak free. You can also use the same technique to touch up screens and other glass-like surfaces in the car. Another way to handle glass screens and clear acrylic gauge covers is to wait until the “glass cleaning step” later in the detail process, wiping them with Proje’s Genesis Glass Cleaner and a Waffle Weave Microfiber Window Towel.
Well, there are a lot of different surfaces inside the vehicle, and, as you can see by the discussion so far, each one must be cared for with specific products and techniques. In Part II of the “Interior Care Primer” series, we’ll move onto the next step in the interior detailing process, which is seat care.