Car Interior Detailing Procedure – Step by Step Guide

How do you detail the inside of a car? What chemicals, brushes, and equipment do you need? In this segment of Detail King’s Auto Detailing Guide, the team breaks down the best interior detailing process that will allow your team to tackle even the dirtiest interiors.

  1. Start by removing all loose items and bag them for the owner, in a loose items bags. Care should be taken to look for strange items such as firearms, knives or anything not usually found in vehicles.
  2. Remove mats and seat covers including ashtrays. Ashtrays should be soaked to insure proper cleaning. Mats should be vacuumed and prepped to remove grease and ground-in dirt.
  3. Using your air compressor purge all loose dirt by starting with the inside of the rear window, then the rear floors pushing all dirt to the front of the car. It is a good idea to gently use the air compressor around the vents and the top of the dashboard. Care should be taken not to break or dislodge any air vents. Be cautious when reaching under the seats for needles, razor blades or other dangerous items.
  4. Remove any pet hair with a Fur-Zoff or Rubber Pet Hair Brush, if hair is not dislodging put two ounces of fabric softener in a quart of water and mist the area to eliminate the static charge holding the hair. You can always vacuum after above steps are completed.
  5. Clean the headliner using Detail King® Extractor Soap and applying it to a Hydra Sponge. Do not soak the headliner with water or clean the headliner if it is sagging or appears to be loose. Wipe off excess soap with a cleanly rinsed sponge and dry with a Turkish Towel. You can also use the Tornador with Interior Super Soap to clean the headliner.
  6. Clean the door panels using Detail King® Pink Power. Have a bucket of warm water and a clean microfiber towel, then apply Pink Power to the towel and clean the panel completely being careful to remove grime particularly around the handles and buttons. Use a brush if necessary. Dry with a clean dry towel. You can also use the Tornador Interior Cleaning Tool instead to assist you to save cleaning and drying labor time.
  7. Clean and detail the dashboard area using the Tornador Interior Cleaning Tool. Be sure to clean the knobs, crevices and vents using the proper detail brush and dry the area with a clean interior microfiber towel and the Tornador using caution remove water from cracks, crevices, buttons and vents.
  8. Clean all levers, pedals, pockets, center console, in-between seats, seat handles & all fixed items in the interior. Look for stains or spills that need special attention.
  9. Clean the glove box (replace items immediately), seating surfaces and seat belts. If the interior has leather seating surfaces use Lexol Cleaner to clean them and Lexol Conditioner to condition during the dressing stage. You can also use Detail King’s Leather Magic as a one-step cleaner and conditioner. If the leather is very dirty consider using any of our Magic Eraser products with one of our Vapor Steamer equipment offerings.
  10. Pre scrub very dirty carpets and mats. Use Hot Shot for grease & tar and Magic Cleaner or Carpet Shampoo for heavily soiled areas. Then use a heated interior extractor along with Extractor Soap to clean upholstery and carpets. Spay cleaner on affected areas, lightly brush-in the Extractor Soap and then extract. Repeat extraction process if necessary.
  11. The door jams should have been cleaned in the wash up phase, now is the time to wax them using Final Touch Express Wax. The mats should have been done first & hung to dry. They will not dry as quickly or thoroughly if left lying flat on the floor. Mat Hangers are available through Detail King®.
  12. When seats are clean and dry you can apply fabric stain protection using Detail King® Spill Defender to protect against staining and soiling.
  13. Following the fabric protection apply Pearl Gloss dressing to the vinyl trim and Super Blue Rubber Dressing to the weather stripping. Never dress the pedals or steering wheel. If the leather has not been conditioned now is a good time.
  14. Clean gauges & chrome trim with glass cleaner and check for any smudges and missed areas.
  15. Clean all windows inside using Ready To Use Glass Cleaner (RTU). Use two or more clean Interior Microfiber or Huck Towels that are reserved for window cleaning and are free of oils or polishes. Apply a small amount of RTU to one towel and clean the window. Use the other clean towel to polish the glass clean & dry.
  16. Place Ozone Machine in the car if needed to freshen the air and remove any odors that may remain after interior cleaning has been completed.
  17. Dispense a few ounces the selected interior fragrance under a seat. It is also good idea to soak a ½ paper towel with the fragrance and place that under the seat. Tell the owner that the paper towel is there so they don’t think you did not clean under the seat.
  18. Re-install the floor mats and place Plastic Coated Paper Floor Mats (front) on top unless carpets are still damp. If carpets are damp, place the vehicle’s mats in the trunk but not on top of each other. Next, replace any items removed from the car including the loose items placed in the Loose Items plastic bag at the beginning of the detailing procedure. The plastic bag with the loose items should be placed on the passenger seat when done.
  19. Be sure head rests, AC vents, seats, seat back rests, and interior mirrors are all positioned copesthetic .
  20. Inspect the interior for missed areas using the Detail King® Inspection Checklist.

Disclaimer: This procedure has been prepared as an example and should be used to create your own Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). All vehicles are different and may require additional steps to formulate a complete process for that vehicle. It is your responsibility to develop procedures that work for your organization. Creating best practices manual for all of your business requirements is a good idea.