hand cleaning car interior

How to Clean and Deodorize Your Car Interior Using Homemade Cleaners

Remember that pristine, fresh, clean feeling of slipping behind the wheel of your new car? Cleaning the interior of your car may not restore that new car smell, but it will certainly improve the air quality. Washing the windows, getting rid of trash and clutter, and cleaning the carpet and seats can help you breathe easier and could even improve your driving skills.

Professional detailing can be super expensive, but with just a few tools and supplies you may have on hand already together with these tips and DIY cleaning recipes, you can clean your car interior just like the pros.

 hand cleaning car interior

Contents

 

Homemade Dashboard and Tire Cleaner

Homemade Car Upholstery Cleaner

Homemade Leather and Vinyl Cleaner

Homemade Car Carpet Cleaner

Homemade Dashboard and Tire Cleaner

You’ll need:

✅  clean spray bottle

✅  1 tbsp plain white vinegar

✅  1 cup warm water

✅  1 tspn Blue Dawn Dishwashing liquid

✅  2 tspn baby oil, mineral oil OR 3 to 5 drops Tea Tree essential oil

Instructions:

Pour water, vinegar, Blue Dawn, and oil into a spray bottle. Shake to combine.

To Use:

Use this on dashboard, doors, tires, in the same way you may have used Armor All in the past, by spraying it on a cloth and then on the surface to be cleaned and polished.

Avoid using paper towels because they leave tiny bits of paper on the dashboard’s surface. Wipe your dash in one direction. You can also use this recipe to clean the steering wheel, handbrake, and other non-leather interior parts of the car.

Homemade Car Upholstery Cleaner

This is a great upholstery cleaner for your car, but also upholstery inside the house! You can treat just the stain or areas that receive the most use.

You’ll need:

✅  cheese grater

✅  egg beater or whisk

✅  medium mixing bowl

✅  6 tablespoons grated Fels Naptha laundry bar soap*

✅  2 tablespoons borax*

✅  2 cups boiling water

Instructions:

Place the Fels Naptha, borax, and boiling water in the mixing bowl. Using the egg beater to whisk, carefully mix until all ingredients are dissolved and well incorporated.

Allow to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes, or until cool enough that the mixture begins to gel.

Using an egg beater, whisk, or electric mixer, whip the mixture until it looks like whipped cream or shaving cream. It will start out bubbly but then become foam.

*available in most supermarkets in the laundry aisle, or online using the links above

To use:

Dip a clean rag into the foam and apply a generous amount to the fabric surface to be cleaned (seats and headliner, too!) Gently scrub the surface, allowing to penetrate the fabric upholstery. Wipe with a wet cloth or rag after cleaning. Stubborn stains may need a brush, but be careful especially on that headliner. You don’t want to end up with a rip as a result of getting too agressive. Allow to air dry. Repeat treatment as necessary.

This recipe makes a big batch of DIY cleaner. You can store it in a container with a tight-fitting lid, like Tupperware, in a cupboard.

If you don’t want to make up more cleaner than you need for a specific job, you can easily cut this recipe in half: 3 tbsp grated Fels Nathpa, 1 tbsp borax, 1 cup boiling water.

Homemade Leather and Vinyl Cleaner

Leather seats and vinyl surfaces add a luxurious look to a vehicle’s interior. However, as durable and as flexible as these materials are, they are also prone to collecting dust and harboring sticky stuff. As always, test in an inconspicuous place first.

You’ll need:

✅  spray bottle

✅  1/4 cup plain white vinegar

✅  1/4 cup olive oil

✅  6 to 10 drops lemon essential oil (optional but leaves a light, clean fragrance)

Instructions:

Pour the vinegar, olive oil, and lemon essential oil in the spray bottle. Shake well.

To Use:

Spray a generous amount of leather and vinyl cleaner on a clean cloth (not directly onto the leather or vinyl).  Use this cloth to wipe down and gently scrub leather or vinyl seats and surfaces, being careful to not oversaturate the surfaces. You don’t want this liquid to pool below the surface between the cushions. Follow by polishing dry with a dry cloth to avoid allowing any wet marks to remain.

Homemade Car Carpet Cleaner

Car carpets and floor mats can get filthy and dirty with frequent use. If they’re black or another dark color, it’s easy to assume all is well since stains are not as visible. Drink spills and more can leave visible stains on lighter colors. Instead of buying specialty cleaning products, try this DIY car interior cleaner for carpets and carpeted floor mats.

You’ll need:

✅  large container (bowl or jar)

✅  stiff scrub brush

✅  3 tbspn grated Fels Naptha bar soap

✅  2 tbspn borax

✅  2 cups boiling water

✅  10 to 15 drops lavender essential oil

Instructions:

Mix the grated soap, borax, water, and essential oil in a bowl or jar. Stir or shake until the ingredients are dissolved and incorporated. It’s going to look super foamy.

To Use:

Dip the brush into the solution and scrub the dirty parts of the carpet. Rinse with a clean wet rag (or if cleaning floor mats, hose them off in the driveway). Allow to air dry.


 

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4 replies
  1. Joanna says:

    Thanks so much for these recipes!
    Instead of using a hand grater, I chop up a bar of Fels Naptha soap into small- medium-sized chunks and throw it in my multi-blade blender. A few pulses and the soap is transformed into fine granules.
    I store the extra soap in an air-tight container.

    Reply

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