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6 Steps to DIY Car Interior Cleaning and Sanitizing

DIY Car Interior Cleaning and Sanitizing

6 Steps to DIY Car Interior Cleaning and Sanitizing

If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. This practical piece of advice can be applied to any task or chore in life. This includes car interior detailing. For superior results, it is important to recognize the difference between car interior cleaning and sanitizing. All too often, car owners put time and effort into vacuuming and wiping down the inside of their car but skip the essential sanitizing steps. However, neglecting the car sanitization process can result in seats, surfaces and high-touch points quickly becoming a hotbed of germs and viruses.

Your car needs regular deep-cleaning to keep it fresh and hygienic, otherwise it can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing. Fortunately, thanks to steam cleaning, it is possible to both clean and sanitize your car interior at the same time. Steam is one of the most effective ways to keep your car sparkling clean and germ-free. It also removes mold and mildew, eliminating unpleasant odors. If you want to include steam cleaning in your DIY detailing routine, follow these six steps to successfully clean and sanitize your car like a pro.

Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Car Interior in 6 Steps

1. Source the Right Steam Cleaner

Cleaning and sanitizing your car interior efficiently requires the right equipment and interior detailing tools. Firstly, source the most suitable steam cleaner for the job. Take the time to research the right steam cleaner to suit your requirements and budget. Look for models that include accessories, such as different brush heads, extension tubes, window tools and cleaning pads and cloths. Choosing the most suitable steam cleaner will help to make steam cleaning the interior of a car quicker and easier.

2. Gather Additional Equipment and Cleaning Tools for the Job

Having purchased your steam cleaner, the next step is to gather all the regular cleaning equipment that is required for car interior cleaning. As a rough guide, an equipment list for cleaning and sanitizing your car interior should contain the following items:

  • Steam cleaner
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Microfiber cloths/towels
  • Liquid soap or other cleaning solutions if required
  • Drying towel
  • Protective antibacterial spray

Take a moment to check the instructions supplied with your steam cleaner. Some instructions specifically tell you not to use anything other than water in the tank. The hot vapor produced by the steam cleaner is extremely effective at killing viruses with steam. Therefore, additional cleaning solvents are not usually necessary. You can rely solely on the power of steam if you want to save money by not purchasing cleaning products.

If, however, you do need to use additional cleaning products, seek out environmentally-friendly ones. For example, DetailXPerts only uses biodegradable products that are compatible with the brand’s steam cleaning technology and are also kind to the environment.

3. Remove Clutter and Personal Belongings Before Cleaning and Sanitizing

It is often surprising how much general clutter and personal belongings we can accumulate in our car. Before you start cleaning and sanitizing your vehicle, you will probably need to have a proper tidy up. Take out the floor mats, bag up the trash, pick up any stray pens, empty coffee cups, food wrappers, discarded receipts, and so on. Check door storage pockets and the glove compartment. Other car interior cleaning tips include checking between and under the seats to make sure any hidden areas are also clutter-free before you vacuum or use the steam cleaner.

4. Vacuum First to Prepare the Car Interior for Steam Cleaning

Do you have a good car vacuum? Ideally, it is better to work with a lightweight model that has sufficient suction power to ensure a thorough clean. Once your car is clutter-free, vacuum the car interior from the vehicle’s ceiling down to the carpets. Cleaning from top to bottom in a methodical manner will help to achieve the best results. For example, any crumbs or dirt dislodged from seats that end up on the floor can be vacuumed at the end. This will save you from going over the same area twice. Vacuuming prepares the car interior for steam cleaning and sanitizing.

Car mats may need an extra going-over with the vacuum to dislodge dirt particles. Don’t worry too much about stains at this stage. For example, you can also use your steam cleaner to clean salt from car carpet. The heat from the steam will quickly dissolve tough salt stains to refresh mats and carpets and leave them looking as good as new.

5. Use the Steam Cleaner to Sanitize the Car Interior

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with how to use a steam cleaner in cars. It is a pretty straightforward piece of equipment. However, bear in mind that you will be working with extremely hot vapor when cleaning and sanitizing your car. Always direct the attachments towards the car’s interior surfaces, upholstery and carpets to avoid steam burns on your hands or face. To be on the safe side, a good tip is to wear heat-resistant safety gloves. Once you are ready to go, open all the car doors to help the air circulate while you work. Now you can start using the steam cleaner to sanitize the car interior, again working from top to bottom. Pay special attention to these high-touch points:

  • Power button/ignition switch
  • Steering wheel
  • Seat belts
  • Interior door handles
  • Window controls
  • Dashboard and vents
  • Visors and mirrors
  • Gear shift
  • Children’s car seats

It is useful to have a dry cloth to hand to wipe away any dislodged dirt and grime while you work, especially if you plan to steam clean car seats. The heat of the steam is very effective at removing stubborn stains and ground-in dirt from different interior fabrics and materials, such as polyester, suede, leather and faux leather.

6. Complete the Cleaning and Sanitizing Steps with an Antibacterial Spray

Once you have finished steam cleaning, leave the car interior to dry completely. Steam cleaning only uses a minimal amount of water, so seats and upholstery will dry quickly. Finalize cleaning and sanitizing the car interior with a protective antibacterial spray. Choose a biodegradable all-surface spray that is also suitable for fabric and leather upholstery. This will provide barrier protection to help stop bacterial growth and minimize the spread of germs between interior car detailing.


If a car detailing job’s worth doing well, cleaning and sanitizing the interior with steam is the answer. Since COVID-19, car owners continue to seek out sanitizing methods to eliminate harmful bacteria, germs and viruses from their vehicles. People want to feel safe and protected in the comfort of their own car. Steam ensures a deep clean that goes beyond dusting and vacuuming. It is also suitable for all types of upholstery cleaning. Furthermore, cleaning with steam is an eco-friendly way to keep the inside of your vehicle sanitized and smelling fresh without using bleach and toxic chemical cleaning products.

However, you will need to invest time and money in sourcing the right steam cleaner. You also need to feel confident and knowledgeable about using the cleaning equipment to achieve a proper, sanitized clean. If you are unsure about tackling the job or simply don’t have the time for cleaning and sanitizing your car interior, we’re here to help. Simply schedule an appointment with DetailXPerts to have your vehicle’s interior supremely cleaned and sanitized using our highly efficient steam technology and eco-friendly disinfectants that don’t harm the environment.

If you enjoy car detailing posts like this, be sure to follow DetailXPerts on Twitter for more car interior cleaning and sanitizing tips and tricks.


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