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How to Clean and Maintain Your Car's Interior

Beauty is more than sheet metal-deep.

interior
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There's serious satisfaction to be found in keeping your car looking showroom-fresh. Much of that includes washing and waxing your car to protect its finish on the outside, but — like your mother always said — it's what’s on the inside that counts.

Since you spend more time in the car than on it, the interior can get dirty and worn in a flash if you're not paying attention. Rather than letting your leather seats become cracked and worn, or letting those Alcantara accents get dirty and matted, it's worth spending some quality time every couple of months to make sure your interior is taken care of.

To help, we’ve broken down what you need to do, and everything you need to keep three common interior surfaces looking fresh and clean.

How to clean your leather interior

Leather has pretty much become the de facto interior option — and while it’s fairly resistant to stains and can put up with daily wear and tear, if it’s not properly cleaned and conditioned, leather will lose its natural oils, stiffen and crack.

You can clean leather interiors simply by vacuuming out any loose debris, then applying a mild, pH-neutral leather cleaner (harsher cleaners will strip seats of their natural oils) to a microfiber cloth. Rub the cleaner into the leather in a circular motion, then wipe it dry with a clean cloth.

Once the seats are clean, apply a thin layer of conditioner to the seats using a soft sponge. (Try a spot test in a small, hidden area to make sure it has no ill effects on your car’s leather.) Let the conditioner absorb into the seats for two hours, then buff it out with a clean microfiber cloth.

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TriNova Leather Cleaner
amazon.com
$15.98
Leather Honey Leather Conditioner
amazon.com
$27.95
$19.99 (28% off)
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Meguiar's Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels
amazon.com
$10.09
$8.17 (19% off)

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Autofiber Upholstery and Leather Microfiber Scrubbing Sponge (6 Pack)
amazon.com
$14.95

How to clean your cloth interior

Admittedly, cloth interiors are becoming harder to find, but if you have an older car from when cloth seats were more common (or chose the non-leather option when picking from the lot), you’ll still want to give your seats a deep clean a few times a year.

Start by using a shop-vac to remove any loose debris from the seat’s crevices and top layer of fabric. Lightly spray the seat’s surface (do not over-saturate) one spot at a time, then massage the area with a stiff interior brush, bringing any deep-rooted dirt to the surface. Finally, wipe up the dirt with a microfiber cloth. Repeat the process until the entire surface is clean.

Mothers Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
Mothers amazon.com
$9.99
Chemical Guys Boar's Hair Detailing Brush
chemicalguys.com
$6.99

Detailer's Choice Microfiber Cleaning Cloth Roll
amazon.com
$13.78

How to clean your Alcantara interior

Alcantara has become the go-to material in high-end performance cars because:

a) it has the same texture as suede but isn’t as much of a pain in the ass to maintain, and

b) it evokes the interiors of race cars, and manufacturers are all about drawing that comparison.

Much like suede or its budget counterpart microsuede, Alcantara fibers can get matted down and trap dirt. For the most part, a soft brush can be used on a regular basis (about once a week) to keep it feeling fresh, but for deeper cleans, an Alcantara cleaner does wonders.

After brushing the material, apply the cleaner to the sponge and work it into the interior surface. Wipe it down with a damp cloth and let it dry — then, brush the Alcantara again to keep the fibers from getting matted down.

Sonax Upholstery and Alcantara Cleaner
amazon.com
$19.84
S.M. Arnold Professional Interior and Upholstery Brush
amazon.com
$9.15
Griot's Garage Blue Detail Sponge (Set of 2)
amazon.com
$11.91
Griot's Garage Microfiber Interior Cloth
amazon.com
$17.83

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