Spring Cleaning: Interior Detailing (Part 1)

White Leather Car Interior

The light is at the end of the tunnel and hopefully the polar vortex is gone for the next two decades. So what do we have to look forward to? How about flowers, grass, leaves, sun, heat, and rain. It’s really quite lovely; but what does this mean for our cars? It’s time for Spring Cleaning.

Spring is different from winter, but it doesn’t mean it’s any less harsh (well hopefully so after this winter we’ve been having). We’ll still experience some spurts of cold, high winds, pollen, and rain, along with heat and UV rays.  Don’t miss the opportunity to provide the protection specific to the spring season.

Technology in the detailing industry has hit some major milestones in the past five years. Waxes are shining deeper, sealants are lasting longer, polishes are easier to use…but regardless of all that, what does your car need for the season? In reality you’ll need a deep interior cleaning, a fresh coat of poly sealant, and some window treatment, along with a few of the regulars. Just because your “coating” says it’s a one time use, doesn’t mean you should allow that.

Over the next few posts, we’ll go through the properly detailing process of cleaning up after winter and preparing for spring. Interior is the name of the game today.

Carpets/Upholstery

Unless you live on the west coast of the United States this winter (west coast drought), you’ve experienced your fair share of rain, snow, sleet, mud, and whatever else your boots can pick up. Unless you’re the world’s most OCD detailer and have been proactive every other day, chances are you’ve got some cleaning to do to the carpets and upholstery. Hopefully with the worst of the weather behind us, we can attack these areas and give attention to all the cracks and crevices. Cleaning Car Interior

Stale water is a nasty bugger. If it goes unattended it can lead to bacteria, mold, rust, foul smells and damage. With the first sign of light in the weather forecast, I’d recommend removing all the seats and using a proper carpet cleanser that works to clean and kill bacteria. Based on what tools you have available to you, you could shampoo the carpets and then use an extractor and spend a day allowing it to properly dry. Either way, by removing the seats you’re allowing yourself to inspect the carpet for any stale water caused by seal leaks in the doors or elsewhere. These would need special attention so that the next rainfall doesn’t allow more water in the car.

Leather

After all of the carpet and upholstery has been tended to, let’s care for any and all leather next. Leather is one of those surfaces that you’re probably keeping relatively clean already by wiping up scuffs and dirt as soon as you see them. Regardless, there’s three steps that need to be taken here, clean, condition, protect.

Clean the surface with a fine leather cleanser. Goes without saying, but using the right products for leather will go a long way. Using a multi-surface cleanser on leather may have some nasty side affects when it comes to leather’s ability to breathe. So my suggestion is using a leather specific product.

Once the leather has been cleaned, it’s important to revitalize and “feed” the leather. A leather conditioner is going to penetrate the leather surface and work within it to moisturize the leather. This is going to bring the leather back to it’s original state, prevent fading and cracking, and saturate the colors of the leather once again.

Now that the leather has been conditioned we want to make sure that nothing we do is going to risk ruining it. A leather protectant is key for detailers in this modern age. A proper leather protectant is going to bead up spills, resist dye transfer, and allow easier cleaning for the surface. Maybe these products are widely available somewhere, but in order for them to be truly affective for leather, they can’t impede leather’s ability to breath. If the products do impede leathers ability to breath then you’ll risk see drying, cracking, and fading. Once you’ve protected the leather, you can now officially say that you’ve finished detailing your leather.

Plastic

Plastic cleaners aren’t new. The material has been around in our vehicles for ages and cleaning them is really dependent on preference.  Cleaners can come in wipes, sprays, or creams and can provide a nice satin finish or an extremely shiny one. There are a few qualities in the product that you chose that you really should look out for though. It should work to provide protection from fading and cracking due to sun damage. This will help extend the life of the plastic trim along with the rest of the interior.

Microsuede

For those of you who have microsuede, alcantara, or other faux suede surfaces, cleaning has been a nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be. Microsuede Cleanser is a new product that offers a gentle cleaner that works specifically with these surfaces. Microsuede steering wheels have been dangerous to own because of the oils in your hands tend to cause damage. A proper cleaner used proactively will save you the issues down the road. CAUTION: microsuede is fragile and using the wrong products can cause damage.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any products on the market yet that work to protect microsuede. It won’t be long, but for now we must exercise caution and care.

Conclusion

Following the nightmares of winter, our cars need special attention. Arguably the most important time for a deep cleaning is after winter. Make the effort to clean all the nooks and crannies of your interior to prevent bigger issues like damage and mold from forming. Moving forward, cleaning and protecting are crucial any time of the year. So while you’re already spending the weekend tending to your Tahoe, make sure you’re using the right products to protect as well.

Make sure to check back next week as we tackle the exterior paint detailing for spring cleaning. We all know that exterior finish detailing is far more fun that interior, but don’t neglect the interior because it’s where you spend most of your time.