A couple of years ago, a fellow detailer and myself were discussing the dirtiest interiors we had ever had to clean. He told me about a Honda whose back windshield was covered in an unidentifiable substance that appeared to have been smeared across the entire glass, completely blurring visibility.
Whatever it was came off relatively easily but he was baffled by what the substance was until he drove off the parking lot. Two hefty Bassett hounds immediately jumped up to look out at him from the back rear window, both with their noses pressed lovingly to the glass.
From dog snot and projectile vomit to dog hair and that musty au natural dog-smell, pooches have not a smidgeon of propriety or manners.
They do not wipe their feet before leaping into the front seat or after giving their coat a good shake after coming in from the rain. They never entertain the thought of wiping down the drenched dashboard, console, or seats of the grime they just discarded.
We always tell you the truth here at Behind the Detail, so we are giving it to you straight. If Fido is a regular passenger in your vehicle, it is virtually impossible to dog proof completely – short of imprisoning them in a crate in the back.
Having said that, we do have a number of recommendations, some of them thanks to advanced technology, to help you control the after-effects of inviting Snoopy along every time you go for a ride!
Start with a complete and thorough interior detailing to rid your vehicle of any traces of dog to start out. Use a wet/dry vacuum or steam cleaning method for purging your car of the dirt, fur, and dander that hides in the fibers of your upholstery and carpet/mats.
Make sure your wet vac removes all traces of dampness and moisture from the cloth or carpet to prevent the build-up of mold and mildew. Finally, request an odor and bacteria removal system to erase (not just cover up) the source of pet smells such as urine or vomit. If you do not eliminate the source, the dog smells will return after a few days.
Now that you’re starting afresh, let’s look at ways to protect your clean interior against Marmaduke. Starting with protecting your fabrics and carpet. The most economical solutions come in the form of removable plastic or cloth seat covers.
Without something covering your cloth seats, they’ll inevitably end up covered in dog hair. Even with vinyl or leather seats, fur flies off onto the carpet or catches in the seams, piping, bolsters, and leading edges.
Plastic seat covers are easier to remove and clean, although not always attractive. Cloth seat covers are more attractive but harder to clean unless they’re machine washable.
For your mats and carpeting, the easiest way to protect from dog hair is hard plastic floor mat covers or heavy-duty WeatherTech floor mats and floor liners. Made of durable, non-slip rubber, they have grooves to catch spills so as to prevent the mess from seeping into the carpet.
These mats and covers can be left at home when your pet isn’t traveling with you but you might as well keep them in your car to make cleaning up your own messes easier.
Looking at other options, you may try coating your fabrics with a water and stain-resistant fabric guard or better yet, spend the extra money to have a protective coating applied to your interior.
Durable, long-lasting, and very difficult to wipe off, interior coatings are an excellent protective option. They bond to the surface on which they are applied and are designed for specific types of surfaces like leather, hard plastics, metal, wood, trim, glass, and fabric.
For your windows, some dog owners adopt a DIY version of the race car driver’s method of tear-off plastic window guard sheets, using clear plastic wrap stretched across the area where your dog likes to look out the windows.
Our preference is for glass coatings. Although they are on the pricier end of the spectrum, glass and other interior coatings are more cost effective in the long term and a much better investment. Most glass coating applications repel dirt and water and last significantly longer than traditional protectants like Rain-X.
Be careful about using over-the-counter spot removers. Moreover, never try to clean urine, vomit, or other pet spills using a sponge with soap and water. Without suction to remove the moisture, the bacteria in the spill will spread. Unfortunately it makes the smell and stain worse.
Even with all the possible preventative measures you can take to keep your car somewhat dog-proofed, the only real way to consistently and completely keep your car free of evidence of your dog ownership is to get a detail.
While it might be costly, professional detailers have the right tools and experience to safely and effectively keep your car in tip top shape so you can keep your dog as your co-pilot.