Module 2: Detailing the Interiors

While exterior detailing focuses on making the paint job look as good as possible, interior detailing generally requires more effort to make the car feel clean and fresh. We will cover everything about interior detailing in this unit, from the best vacuums, to applying finishing touches.

Performing an Interior Clean

The time required to clean the interior of a vehicle can vary drastically. The amount of work interior cleaning requires, heavily depends on the habits of your customer and how well they take care of their car.

There are many different surfaces inside cars, all requiring different products to clean. For example, leather and cloth upholstery need different cleaning solutions. Plastic cup holders, side door pockets and the glovebox can all be made from different plastics and rubber, which will also require different cleaning solutions.

Before you begin detailing the interior, you have to make sure there are no personal belongings of the owner in the car. After you’ve done the preparatory work, you can move on to arguably the most important part of interior detailing – vacuuming.

Vacuuming the Interior

If there’s excess dirt in the car, it’s a good idea to blow it out from the hard-to-reach areas of the vehicle. You can use a compressor to direct high-pressure air into crevices and inaccessible areas.

The first place to vacuum is always the floor. After that, you can slowly move on to other areas of the vehicle, and finish with the cleaning of hard-to-reach areas.

While vacuuming leather materials, you must be careful not to scratch them with the vacuum bristles. In general, knowing which attachments to use on the different surfaces is the key to successfully using all your tools.

Vacuum Tools

Investing in a high-quality, powerful vacuum can go a long way in car detailing. Aside from carpets, upholstery also needs good vacuuming before you can go in with different products to clean them.

A good vacuum cleaner, with several different attachments, can help you reach most areas of a car. However, there may still be areas where your trusty vacuum cannot reach so it is always a good idea to keep a small hand-held vacuum in your kit.

Hand-held vacuums are easy to use, and can be helpful in cleaning out the glovebox, cupholders, and other hard-to-reach areas of a vehicle.

Sometimes, a car might come along where your regular vacuum wouldn’t be enough to clean out all the dirt. Customers who own pets, and drive them around, can have pet hair all over their cars. This can be a challenge to get rid of.

The same goes for sand. It can be a serious challenge to get rid of all the small particles. You can tell someone spent their weekend at the beach when the customer comes in with their car full of beach sand.

Fortunately, there are specialized vacuums designed to deal with such issues. It’s a good idea to keep one on hand so that when such difficult cars come along, you are ready for them.

Hard-to-Reach Areas

After vacuuming the entire interior of a vehicle, there may still be spots where dust collects that you can’t reach with your hand-held vacuum.

To clean such hard-to-reach areas, you can invest in small cleaning brushes. These handy tools can be used to reach areas that vacuum cleaners can’t.

Cars have many tiny spots where dust can accumulate quickly, including air vents. Cleaning them can be a tricky task even with the best vacuum and brushes. To clean them, you can use compressed air. This is a simple and easy solution to the problem.

Extraction Cleaning of Upholstery

Extraction cleaning can be used when dealing with upholstery. Sometimes going to such lengths isn’t necessary when cars are well-kept. However, if there are serious stains on the seats, or a car belongs to a smoker, extraction cleaning of all the fabric in the car becomes a necessity.

First, before beginning extraction, you should thoroughly vacuum the car seats and/or the fabric roof. Getting rid of loose dust and debris will guarantee a better end result.

If there are any visible stains on the vehicle’s upholstery, you can apply a cleaning solution to those first. After treating individual stains, you can move onto extraction cleaning.

The first step is to wet the fabric with a cleaning solution, and allow it to sit for a few minutes, before extracting all the moisture and dirt. This can be done with your vacuum, if it has the wet cleaning option.

If your vacuum cleaner isn’t up to the task, there are dedicated extraction-cleaning tools available on the market.

Applying Upholstery Protection

After thoroughly cleaning the upholstery, it is wise to apply protection to ensure that the cleanliness lasts. There are specific fabric protectors on the market that will seal the cloth, making sure the dirt and debris don’t settle deep into the fabric.

You can use fabric protectors on the seats, and also on the car’s roof and carpet. It is best to apply several coats of the product, allowing the fabric to dry in-between applications.

Cleaning Interior Windows

Cleaning the inside of a car’s windows is as important as cleaning the outside of the windows. A good detailing must pay equal attention to both the interior and the exterior of the car.

Some cleaning solutions are designed specifically for the window’s exterior. They contain chemicals that protect the exterior of the car from the environment and elements. However, these chemicals may damage the interior of the car.

If a product specifies that it can be used on both sides of the car windows, then it is safe to use it on the inside as well.
Keep in mind that applying too much product directly onto the windows can be counterproductive, and make them look hazy. Use the products in moderation, and always apply them onto your cleaning cloth first, not directly onto the surface.

How to Professionally Dress the Interior

Dressing the interior is the last finishing touch used in car detailing. As with anything, using the right product is important in this case as well.

There are different interior dressing products on the market. Whether the car seats are leather or fabric will determine the type of dressing product to use.

There are also different products for different leather types. Some cars might not even need dressing if they’re in a good shape.

Make sure to communicate clearly with the customer to find out what they expect from detailing. Find out if they’re after a shiny finish that dressing provides.

Unless the customer specifically requests it, you can completely skip this step if the car looks great without dressing.