9 tricks car detailers use to get your vehicle squeaky clean

Mature man washing his car in driveway

We spend a lot of time inside of our cars running errands, commuting to work and shuffling around on the weekends. The interior can get littered with snack wrappers, empty beverage containers, kids’ half-finished drawings and more.

Paying to have a car detailed can be expensive, but you can achieve professional-grade results by doing it yourself.  Here are nine tricks to make your car look (and smell) like new.


Remove the Floor Mats

Taking out your floor mats will allow you to vacuum every nook and cranny in your floorboard. It also makes it easier for you to clean your mats. Upholstered mats can be cleaned by scrubbing them with carpet cleaner, rinsing well and hanging dry.

Rubber or silicone mats can be hosed down and washed with dishwashing soap, then rinsed off and air-dried.

Give It A Steam Clean

You probably already know that vacuuming your seats and floor mats can make every last dropped Cheerio disappear, but have you ever considered using a handheld steam cleaner? Portable steam cleaners can freshen upholstery and help you de-gunk caked-on stains. They can also remove allergens and odors. You can also use them on the exterior to lift bird droppings and tree sap before they impact the paint.

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Give Vents A Deep Clean

Car vents tend to accumulate dirt, debris, moisture and anything else that’s floating in the air. The trick to getting into those grated areas? Use a can of compressed air to blow out anything that doesn’t belong. You can also use a soft, dry paintbrush to collect anything that’s visible.

Wipe Down Everything

You’d be amazed at all the places dust can collect. Use a disinfecting wipe to clean cupholders, door panels, turn signals and everything else except digital display screens. If something silicone, like a cupholder, can be removed, pull it out and give it a quick rubdown with soap and water.


Be Mindful of Infotainment Touchscreens

Ammonia-based glass cleaners can harm video display screens. To clean off fingerprints, lightly dampen a microfiber cloth and gently rub the surface.

Use Two Cloths For Windows

The glass cleaners you use for your mirrors at home will likely work just fine for your car’s windshield and windows. Grab two cloths and spray one with the cleaning product and use the second cloth for drying. Save the windows for last. They’re easy to bump into and this way you won’t need to clean them twice.

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Remember Water Before Soap

Another trick the pros use to create a squeaky clean car is rinsing it first with water before applying soap. Otherwise, you might be rubbing dirt into the paint.

Ditch the Dish Soap

Don’t be a rookie and grab dishwashing soap to clean your car. The harsh chemicals can extract oil from the paint. Use a biodegradable, gentle soap instead that won’t leave any residue.

Hand Dry With a Microfiber Cloth Too

The material you use to clean your car matters. The pros don’t just use any old rag. They opt for microfiber towels, which grab dust and can leave your car looking streak-free.


Detail your car at least two times a year, even more often if you have a lifestyle where you track mud into the vehicle regularly, like from hiking or camping. This will make it easier to get your car squeaky clean during washes in between.

About the Author

Emily O'Brien

Emily is a freelance writer who loves connecting the dots among facts and finding obscure little details to weave in throughout her work. Whether she's interviewing Olympic athletes, small business owners, dessert cookbook writers, or world-renowned architects, she's passionate about shining the spotlight on good people doing remarkable work. More.

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