Internal car care 101
As well as being a motoring enthusiast and passionate car owner, Dan Bowden is the Founder of Bowden’s Own Premium Car Care. For more than 15 years, the Bowden family’s company has grown to provide a diverse range of over 30 different liquid car care products, all made locally in Australia. The Bowden’s family car collection is also regarded as one of the best car collections in the world.
Have you spilled coffee on your seat? Have the kids dropped their ice cream on the car floor? Or has your dog left fur in every nook and cranny of your car?
From cleaning your floor mats to getting that perfect finish to your dashboard, car expert and enthusiast Dan Bowden teaches us how to get your car’s interior showroom-fresh and how to protect it from future damage and stains.
Cleaning and protecting your car’s interior
Danielle: We return here to the Bowden’s collection with Dan, owner of Bowden’s Own car care products. Today we get the word on how to clean the inside of a car, including carpets, and the best way to clean and remove stains on car seats.
Dan, it’s great to see you again!
Dan: Awesome to have you back
Danielle: Now last time we were here you took us through some fantastic tips on how we can look after the exterior of our car - to make sure that it stays in pristine condition, how can you help us today to look after the inside of our cars?
Dan: What I would love to show is how to detail and clean the interior of a car, but more so – how to protect it which is really critical in Australia’s harsh environment conditions.
Stage 1: Interior Mat Cleaning (and Deeper Dirt Removal)
Now when you are cleaning an interior of a car, the first thing that I like to do is to actually get the vacuum – pull out the mats and give them a clean, then run through the rest of the car while you’ve got the vacuum there.
Now when you pull the mats out of the car, give them a quick little dust-off, get all the heavier elements out of them before giving them a good vacuum. When you use your vacuum, run back and forth in one direction, then the other, just to give them a really good clean on all the fibres. Another really cool thing is to have a vacuum like this, it’s a wet and dry vacuum. Really affordable nowadays and what it’s going to be for is because there is a lot of ingrained dirt underneath this and we’re going to give the fabric a clean as well, so what we are going to do is give it an initial clean and then give it a deeper clean.
Now for a deeper clean, get your fabric and upholstery cleaner, spray into a really good horse hair brush and spray on to the surface on the dirtier areas and then rub it in a side to side motion. This is enough to release all the dirt that your feet have put into the mat. Now while it is all wet, grab your vacuum cleaner and suck it all back up.
Now we have vacuumed all the liquid out, all the hairs on the carpet are standing up tall so they are going to dry a lot better. While we are waiting for this to dry, we will vacuum the rest of the interior.
Stage 2: Vacuum and Dust removal
Now with the crevice tool fitted to your vacuum what you do, get in all around the seats, pull the little bits and portions back on the seat to get all the bits of sand and junk out of it. Also pull the seat back so you can get more access in and around the seat.
Now another little cool tool to have is one of these round detailing brushes, what you do is use it to get to the intricate parts that you can’t get your vacuum into and use it to pull out all of the dirt and dust and suck it right up into the vacuum. So, give it a go here.
Now we have vacuumed out the seats, the carpets and all the other intricate areas on the car, what we are going to do now is give it a quick little dust down. We are going to use a round brush for the intricate areas around vents and the like, and we are going to use this plush towel. The plush side acts like a dust magnet. Just quickly run it over the top and it collects the dust, before we move onto the next stage of the clean.
Stage 3: Interior Deep Surface Clean
So, we’ve finished the dust wipe down of the car. And what you notice now is any little marks that are left on the car and what we have here is some beautiful sunscreen over here and on the seat of the car. What we are going to use is our pH balanced, all-purpose cleaner, Orange Agent.
We’re going to do is spray it on, wipe it off and pull it off while its wet, and it will all come off nice and easy. So, spray it into an applicator, spray a good amount, don’t spray it directly to the surface. Gently wipe it over the surface of the area you want to clean, back and forth slowly. Its critical to remove this product while it’s wet. That sunscreen is suspended in the liquid, so wipe it off using a microfiber cloth, turn it over to the clean side and that is how quick and easy you can get rid of sunscreen marks.
Now this pH balanced all-purpose cleaner is also used to remove sweat and grease off your door trims or anywhere else that you touch on the car. Likewise, you use it on the dash to remove any older silicone based products, and it’s the same process again. Spray into the applicator and gently wipe it across the dash. Again, small sections at a time and pull it off while it’s wet.
Now one thing you have to monitor is the dirt build up you actually get in the pad. Now, you can turn it over to the clean side, but once it’s all filled up, clean it out in a bucket of water. I like to use a barrier guard on the bottom of the bucket, so you can rub the pad on the bottom of the bucket and give it a good clean. Wring it right out, just so it’s damp… look at that… all clean, ready to go again.
Stage 4: Vinyl Care
So, the deep clean is all done, but it leaves a really stark finish, and no protection. So, what we do is Vinyl Care for all your dash and trim bits and pieces, so let’s get into it!
Now the one thing you notice in all these modern cars on all the vinyls and plastics is that it’s not a shiny surface. Go to a car dealership and you’ll notice it. We need a product that will actually restore the darkness and give UV protection. So, the way to use this, is the Vinyl Care, once again we spray into the applicator, and then apply it to surface in a side to side motion. Now it’s already been cleaned with our pH balanced cleaner, but because this is a water based, silicone-free formula, it’s not going to fish-eye up, and it’s going to leave a beautiful surface. Small section at a time, now while it’s still wet, a low pile micro-fibre cloth and gently buff it off.
This way you get a nice even finish, it cleans it, rejuvenates that look but it also gives it a really good UV protection which is another really important thing on the dash on the car.
Stage 5: Seats (Microsuede and cloth)
Now the inlays in this seat are actually made from Alcantara or microsuede. It’s a synthetic material and a lot of people are scared of it. The important thing to remember is that any product you are using has to be water-based. You can’t use any solvent or alcohol based cleaners on it as you can damage it.
A couple of stains here which are just about normal - you see a lot on these seats and pretty easy to remove with the right technique and right products. What we are going to do is use the Fabra Cadabra and spray it into the pad and then side to side motion, don’t apply any pressure because you don’t want to push the stain deeper into the surface.
Back and forth and turn it over to the dry side and then get another dry cloth and gently back and forth and look at that… the stains all gone.
The next step will be to run the vacuum cleaner over it and pull the hair all up and then leave it to dry for about half an hour. And it’s a perfect finish.
Stage 5: Seats (Leather)
Now with your leather cleaning, it’s pretty similar to what we just did with the vinyl interior, but there are a couple of very important changes, so let’s run through them.
Now leather used in automobiles nowadays has actually got a top coat of polyurethane and that’s what you have to look after.
Now once again, the pH balanced all-purpose cleaner is ideal for a deep clean. Now many people think that leather is not dirty, but you would be amazed what you can pull out. So, spray into the applicator again, and a section at a time just rub it gently rub back and forward. This seat has perforated leather, so we don’t want to be putting a heap of liquid onto it. Just a small section at a time, but critically as previous, you have to pull it off when it’s still wet. With our micro-fibre cloth, just in a gently swiping motion, pull it off and always check if there is dirt, then turn it to the clean side, you don’t want to be transferring dirt back to the leather surface. So always turn often to a clean side of the cloth.
Now the all-purpose cleaner has done a really deep clean on the leather, being pH balanced it has not damaged the leather which is really critical. Now with the leather being polyurethane coated, you need a product that will actually condition the leather, leave that beautiful matte finish, but importantly allows it to breathe so it can re-hydrate and stays beautiful soft and supple. Spray the Leather Conditioner into the applicator, it’s a nice suddsing product – it has got a cleaning action to it and it smells like beautiful rich leather. Rub it over the leather, really important to focus on the stitching. Once you are all done, go the low pile side of the cloth and wipe it all off, to leave a beautiful matt finish. Leather should never be shiny, but matt or satin finish and critical your product leaves it that way.
OK, now after we have done the leather cleaning and conditioning, we then go onto protection. When we talk about protection, what it’s for the Leather Guard, is actually wear. Now every time you hop in and out of your car with your clothes on, you actually wear out a little bit of the top of the leather. With a product like this, it puts a little protection on there and minimizes this happening. Now because both these products are built to be compatible, you can use the one applicator. Just wring it out in the bucket once more, get it so it’s just damp, spray it of course directly onto the pad, never onto the surface. Now when you apply the Leather Guard, just work on these high areas, all the seat bolsters, anywhere where you have high wear in and out of the car. And whilst it’s still wet, pull it off with a dry towel.
And that’s it. Looks, feels beautiful, like brand new, smells amazing as well, and you do this routinely about once a month and will keep your leather like new.
Stage 6: Seatbelts
Now, another important part that a lot of people forget to clean is your seatbelts. And it’s a simple one. Water-based fabric cleaner - spray it into a towel, get enough in there, and then pull your belt out and simply wipe it back and forth. And this will give it a really nice safe clean and it won’t damage any of the fibres in the belt.
Stage 7: Glass
Now for our last act, we are going to do the glass. And for the glass cleaner we use a big soft towel and it’s not just good for glass, it’s also good for the hard and shiny trims that are in the car. You do them last in case you have some overspray on them and this brings up a wonderful finish.
Now when you are doing your glass, it’s a really simple task. Never a dark art to get it right, all you need to do is spray your glass cleaner into a towel, make sure its ammonia-free and put three sprays only into the towel and apply it to the glass. East-west, north-south – fold it to a dry side and you get an absolutely perfect finish. Run around and do all your glass and then get a separate towel and come in and finish off on you’re the plastic trims
Now for all the shiny trims on the interior, just two little sprays into your cloth and clean off any residues and then turn over to the clean side and buff it off for beautiful like-new perfection.
Stage 8: Deodoriser
And the way I always like to finish off, detailing an interior is to get my favourite deodoriser and just spray a couple of sprays into the carpet and it leaves that beautiful fresh smell.
Dan: So, what do you reckon?
Danielle: Thanks Dan!
With our car doubling as the weekend taxi, I sure know what it’s like to have a car full of dirty kids after sport. These tips are great and this car sure looks ready for the next weekend adventure!
Car interior cleaning protects the condition of your car and is made simpler and easier with the correct products and right techniques.
Whether you’re a car washing novice, or a car fanatic, we’ve covered all the steps.
- Mat and deep dirt clean: Clean your floor mats thoroughly by getting into your car’s carpet to remove that deep dirt.
- Vacuum and dust removal: Using your vacuum, get into the gaps and crevices to remove the dust and dirt.
- Deep surface clean: Remove the grease and sweat from your surfaces, but make sure to remove the Orange Agent while it’s still wet.
- Vinyl care: Doing the deep surface clean can leave your surfaces looking stark. Putting a finish on your surfaces will protect them and make them look great.
- Seat cleaning – cloth: Getting rid of stains in your seats is easier than you think with the right product.
- Seat cleaning – leather: Many people think leather can’t get dirty, but you will be surprised what you can pull out from it.
- Seatbelts: protect the fabric of the seat belt by using a water-based fabric cleaner.
- Glass: Get a perfect and transparent finish by using the right technique to clean your windows.
- Deodoriser: Don’t lose that new car smell and add a bit of deodoriser.
What you’ll need to clean your car’s interior
- Rinsing bucket
- Horse hair brush - for scrubbing car mats
- Wet/Dry vacuum cleaner (removes dirt from wet areas) – consider extension lead also
- Vacuum cleaner attachments – to remove dirt from crevices
- Applicator pads
- Small detailing brush for dust removal – a small paint brush will suffice
- Supply of microfiber towels – these can be re-washed. Purchase in volume from auto-supply retailers
- Plush Towels – deeper plush pile
- Quality all-purpose Interior Cleaner – ensure it is pH neutral balanced
- Fabric cleaner - with no solvents or alcohol
- Glass cleaner - with no ammonia
- Leather care treatment – for nourishing leather
- Leather protectant – to provide a protective coating to leather surface
- Deodoriser spray – look for ones that ‘encapsulate’ odours
Read more on Learn About
- VIDEO: Car washing 101 - Car cleaning equipment
- How to make a claim after a minor accident
- Glossary of car terminology
The information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.
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