By Prentice St. Clair, CD-SV, RIT
Bio: Prentice St. Clair, CD-SV, RIT has been providing training and consulting for the professional automotive detailing industry since 1999, as well as detailing services to the motoring public many more years than that. Prentice holds many certifications within the detailing industry, and is a Recognized Industry Trainer through the International Detailing Association. Considered one of the industry’s leading experts, Prentice has been inducted to the IDA Detailer’s Hall of Fame.
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’ Intensive Process for interiors!
In the post “Interior Care Primer: Part I”, we looked at the leather and fabric seat care, as well as care for carpeting and mats. Next, we’re going to tackle the wonderfully challenging (but it doesn’t have to be!) world of streak-free window cleaning.
The order in which the next two steps is up for debate. Some people like to dress the vinyl panels before cleaning the windows. There is nothing wrong with this method, as long as your window towel is not picking up dressing from the adjacent vinyl panels as you wipe the windows clean. I like to clean the windows first, then apply the vinyl dressing. Either way, here is the recommended process for each.
Window cleaning is perhaps the most challenging detailing task for professional detailers, as customers tend to quickly notice streaky windows as soon as they sit down in their freshly-detailed car. There are several variables that can contribute to the success or failure of cleaning windows. The most important is the towels that are being used. For window cleaning, it is critical to have a set of dedicated towels that are only used for window cleaning, and that are washed separately from all other towels. Using the same towels for everything and washing them together leads to contamination of the window towels, which will cause streaking.
Proje’ offers two window towel options, each of which is designed specifically for use on glass. These are the Waffle Weave Microfiber Window Towel and the Diamond Window Towel. You will find that both work very well to make window cleaning easier and reduce leftover streaking.
Speaking of towels, let’s take a short side journey to talk about proper towel care. Professional detailers are as obsessive-compulsive about their towels as they are about their craft. This is because proper towel care makes the detail process easier and more effective. The simplest way to sum up proper towel care is this: Dedicate towels to specific purpose (glass towels, interior towels, drying towels, polish/wax removal towels), and wash and store them separately (to reduce cross-contamination).
Some folks avoid the window towel issue altogether by using disposable towels like the common blue shop towels that are widely available. Simply use them once and throw them out. For the do-it-yourselfer, this is a great option. For the professional who is detailing multiple vehicles each day, this can become expensive.
Another variable is how many towels are used to clean the windows. It is common practice among professionals to use at least two towels during the window cleaning process. Towel one is dampened with glass cleaner, like Proje’s Genesis Glass Cleaner. This towel is used to perform the initial wipe of the glass to loosen the haze and grime that coats the glass. The second towel is clean and dry, and is used to wipe away the glass cleaner residue and remaining dirt. It is important to keep wiping with towel two until the glass is completely dry and streak-free. Some technicians like to follow with a third “buffing” towel to ensure there are no remaining streaks.
Note, Genesis Glass Cleaner is safe on all types of glass, clear plastic, and tinted windows. Don’t forget to clean the vanity mirrors (in the sun visors), the rear-view mirror, the display screens, and the acrylic plastic cover over the gauge cluster.
Dressing Interior Plastic and Vinyl
Next it’s time to add protection and a “like-new” sheen to the plastic, vinyl, and leather panels. Plastic panels like the dash top and the door panels are ready for an application of Proje’s Interior Protectant dressing. I like to spray some onto an applicator pad like the Blue Applicator Pad . It’s okay to be generous with this application, and avoid the glass and shiny moldings that don’t need dressing. Once done applying dressing, take a clean interior microfiber and wipe off the excess dressing. While you are doing so, make sure the dressing is evenly applied, look for missed spots, and buff off any dressing that might have accidentally been applied to the shiny trimwork.
You will find that using this technique with Interior Protectant will take the appearance of the plastic and vinyl panels from “clean” to “new-looking”, without excess gloss and no greasy feel. Just a natural, satin finish.
Look Clean, Smell Clean
Although you will find that using the Proje’ cleaning and protecting products leaves behind a pleasant scent in your vehicle’s interior, you can freshen up the air by spritzing one of Proje’s air fresheners. There’s “New Car Scent” (who doesn’t like that smell???) and “Leather Scent”, which is an enhanced version of the scent that is included in our Plush Leather Conditioner. Both products contain active odor neutralizers, which kill remaining odors that may linger in the vehicle even after cleaning. That means that our air freshening products are more than just nice scent!
Between Parts I, II, and III, we have fully explored the process of vehicle interior detailing. We have looked at the cleaning and protecting of about 12 different interior surfaces. It’s a lot of work to fully detail a vehicle that has been neglected—hence, a typically expensive price tag when performed by a detailing professional. Yet, the do-it-yourself vehicle enthusiast can get great results on even the most neglected of vehicle interiors, using the Proje’s line of highly effective interior cleaning and protecting chemicals, along with the techniques described in the three parts of the “Interior Care” series. Plus, once the vehicle looks great, or if it started that way, the process for maintaining the appearance is relatively easy.