How To Clean Your Car Interior

Chloe Murphy 6 minutes Published: 26/08/2021

If you’ve clicked on this post, it’s likely that you’re among the many drivers to proclaim ‘another time, another day’ when it comes to cleaning your car interior.

It’s a task most of us are keen to avoid, but keeping a clean interior has a whole host of benefits.

Beyond the bonus of a fresh smelling commute, staying on top of interior cleaning protects your car’s value. In our ultimate guide to cleaning your car interior, we run through cleaning each type of car seat, your plastic trim, your car’s glass, headliner and the car carpet. 

Cleaning your car seats

Even when you begin to notice an accumulation of food and drink spilled on your car seats, getting around to cleaning them is an easy task to push to another day.

Taking your car to a professional detailer offers the convenience of simply dropping your car off, but comes at a cost. 

With professional interior detailing beginning at around £100, you could save a whole lot of money by doing it yourself. You can follow our handy guide on how to clean car seats to get the best finish.

You don’t even need to use professional products, and though we’d recommend getting some microfibre cloths and wash mitts, you can use various household items such as:

  • Baking soda - Mix with some water and dab on for tough stains.
  • Vinegar - Combat larger stains by mixing a cup of vinegar with two cups of water, and decant into a spray bottle for easy application.
  • Shaving foam - Apply directly onto the seats or stains, leave for a minute or two, then blot until the stain lifts.
  • Cornflour - Say goodbye to unpleasant odours by sprinkling a light coat over your seats and floor mats, leave for an hour, then vacuum. 

These are great general methods for cleaning your interior, but different materials may need different methods. The above can be used safely on most cloth interiors, but are best tested on a small inconspicuous area if you have leather or vinyl seats.

You can see our in-depth car seat cleaning guides by fabric type below:

Plastic trim

When cleaning interior plastic trim, it’s one of those things we tend to just give a once over. Plastic trim is fairly easy to clean, but to keep it looking its best, you really need to keep up regular cleaning. 

It doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming, as you’ll just need:

Then, just follow our quick steps to vacuum, dust, clean, protect and polish your interior. See our full guide to how to clean plastic trim in your car.

If it’s still looking drab, or just hasn’t shined up like you hoped, you can use a trim restorer or plastic scratch kit like Quixx Scratch Remover. Just be very careful if you’re precious over your seats, as black plastic restorer stains can be tricky to remove. If you do happen to get any on them, just refer back to our guide on how to clean car seats.

Inside windows and windshield

Whether it’s grime, dirt, or bird poop covering your windshield, not being able to see properly can be annoying and dangerous. 

Often drivers will clean the outside of their windscreen, only to drive away and realise it was actually the interior glass messing up their view. But with our guide on how to clean your car windscreen and how to clean your car windows, poor visibility can be a thing of the past. 

Though you can easily get hold of automotive glass cleaners, you can also use a DIY cleaner if you’re in a pinch. Common items like rubbing alcohol or white vinegar can make it look like you went professional. 

Just mix up one part white vinegar, two parts distilled water, and decant into a spray bottle. Spray directly onto the inside of the windscreen, then wipe with a microfibre cloth in vertical then horizontal motions. 


Even if you’ve cleaned it before, we know some of you might not actually know what your headliner is. 

Your car headliner is the interior roof of your car, and gets surprisingly dirty considering it’s not an area you come into contact often. But whether it needs to be cleaned after transporting goods or a fizzy drink explosion, car headliner cleaning has to be done very carefully.

We’ve got a detailed post on how to clean a car headliner, so here’s a run down of the three ways you can clean it:

  1. Spot Clean - If your headliner is relatively clean other than a mark or two, a spot clean directly on the stain should suffice.
  2. Surface Clean - If your spot clean failed to remove the mark, or if you have a greater area needing cleaned, you can lightly cover the entire headliner with an upholstery cleaner. 
  3. Deep Clean - Only to be done in the most dire of cases, a deep clean involves shampooing or steam cleaning your headliner. As excess heat and moisture can damage or sag the headliner, it has to be done quickly. 

Car mats

It’s probably the most ignored part of the car interior, and yet your car mats are likely what gets the dirtiest. Whether it’s muck, sand or snow, trodding dirt on them constantly can start to take a toll.

When you’re putting in the effort for the rest of your car, it’s worth finishing the job and cleaning your car mats.

In our guide to cleaning car mats, we cover the best solutions for both fabric and rubber. With fabric you can follow stain removal steps just like you would with cleaning cloth car seats. For rubber, it’s handy to have a hose or pressure washer. 

Whatever method you choose, just be sure not to chuck them in the washing machine. Rubber mats aren’t suitable for the washing machine, and most fabric mats will have rubber edging. Only entirely fabric mats should be washed in a machine, and it’s still best to check the label. 

How much does it cost to clean the interior of a car?

How much it costs to clean your car interior depends on the methods you choose, and the car seat material you have.

While most cleaning methods (home remedy and professional) will work on cloth car seats, vinyl and leather may require more specific products that you have to go out and buy.

This means it could work out slightly more expensive for vinyl and leather car seat owners, however the cost should only be very marginal. Most professional cleaners average at around £10, and the bottle is likely to last you a while.

If you decide you’d rather not do the interior cleaning yourself, you’ll see the cost rise fairly substantially. Car interior detailing can range anywhere from £100-£200, and you’ll have to pay extra for care on specific materials. If you’re looking for leather conditioner or to soften up your vinyl, it’ll be another charge on top.

The best way to avoid this is to keep up regular car cleaning yourself. With proper maintenance, there should be no need for expensive detailing. 


Though technical elements might often take precedence, regular cleaning is an important part of your car maintenance checklist

Keeping a tidy and well kept interior will maintain your resale value, plus you get to drive a car that feels as spic and span as the day you got it. So if you’re eager to give your car the full works, check out our post on how to wash a car