Auto Interior Detailing: Lesson 3 - Doc Mobile Auto Detail

July 24

Auto Interior Detailing: Lesson 3

Auto Interior Detailing

Lesson 3

One unique aspect of the auto interior detailing process is that it is transferable to other interior detailing aspects. Such as Boats and RVS and even the home. Many of the materials that you will be cleaning within a car are found in these other categories.

A vehicle interior clean is as important or more important that the exterior because this is where the user spends the majority of their time. While we all love to walk up to our car and see a deep and rich paint that is free of defects, what is more important to most drivers is how the interior looks.

Auto Interior Detailing

Top Benefits of a Clean Interior

  • Reduce Wear and Tear-By keeping a vehicle interior free from grime, dirt, dust, spills, and more you help reduce the wear and tear on a vehicle. Just like contaminants on the exterior of the car will break down the paint over time so will contaminants on the interior of the vehicle break down your plastic, vinyl, carpet, wood, and more.  
  • Driver Safety-Clean windows help with visibility and a vehicle free of odors and eye sores such as stains or spills help prevent a driver from being distracted and more relaxed behind the wheel.
  • Value-This is pretty self-explanatory, if you want to retain more value on an already fast depreciating asset, keeping the interior clean reduces the wear (benefit #1) and thus will add to an overall higher quality condition of the car and keep the price from dropping as dramatically. Just look at Kelly Blue Book. Every car that is in “Excellent” condition as opposed to “Good” adds on average a couple extra thousand to the price tag. You can verify this for yourself. Pick any of the top 20 used vehicles for sale in the market and compare “Excellent” vs “poor” value. There are numerous numbers that add to the overall value of a vehicle, as detailers we can greatly enhance a cars value.

Why do I even bother mentioning benefits of a clean interior…You want to be a detailer right? You already know this stuff. However, your customer does not necessarily understand the value of a clean interior especially when you are asking $150 to complete a deep clean of the inside. This understanding is what will enhance your overall detailing knowledge and allow you to close more jobs.

Now that we have briefly gone over the benefits of detailing a cars interior lets get to the process.


                Get ready to do this step twice. You can opt to clean all the surfaces first and then vacuum the floor to pick everything that drifted downward up. However, we have found that dirt and dust return back on already clean surfaces. We start by using a soft bristle attachment and vacuum the door panels, dash, console area and seats. Then we move to a hard bristle attachment to help release embedded dirt and pick up loose dirt and debris. Micro attachments can be used to help get into vents, around shifters, and other crevices and seem lines that will get filled with dirt and are difficult to clean.

Pro Tip: If you are working on a seam such as a small gap around buttons or the plastic trim. Use the fine nozzle setting on your sprayer to break down the dirt and then your vacuum to pull it out of the crevice.

After you clean all the surfaces and condition them you will come back with a clean soft bristle attachment and do a final spot vac to grab any dust that filtered back onto surfaces and the floor during your deep surface clean.

Vacuum Attachments

Large Vacuum Attachments-Includes hard and soft bristle, flat edge, and large crevice tool

Small Vacuum Attachments-Includes hose adapter, 2 brush sizes, 1 fine nozzle, and one extension  

Mini Vacuum Attachment

Interior Surface Cleaner

After a thorough vacuum is completed, we move onto the deeper clean.

Again, I like to keep this simple. You do not need to have 5 different surface cleaners and even the three I carry is overkill, typically I have one as a backup from the Detail Garage Supply store.

My primary go to is Shine Supply Leather and Interior Cleaner. This product works fantastic for cleaning virtually every surface. For those heavier saturated surfaces, you can use a leather brush, carpet brush, or vinyl brush to help agitate the product and release dirt and grime. Finish by using a taddy towel to wipe off the residue.

For heavy saturated carpet I have two preferred products.

  • Folex Carpet Cleaner-Low cost and works great for removing heavier stains. Best method without an extractor or steamer is to thoroughly saturate the area, agitate with your brush of choice. You can even use an orbital carpet brush for deeper cleaning. Oversaturate with hot water via spray bottle to help lift stains up and then vacuum out with a wet vac filter.
  • Enzyme Carpet Cleaner-This product is especially useful for pet stains. The microorganisms attack organic material and break them down to make them easier to remove. It will neutralize odors and leave the area clean.

Both methods may require a couple of passes to achieve the desired results and some carpet may be so heavily stained that you can remove the odors and the majority of the stain but not the entire stain imprint. Never promise a customer that you will pull the entire stain out as this may not be possible but it will be clean and then whatever residual color is left can potentially be dyed.

Pro Tip: After heavily saturating carpet or any absorbent surface with product and water ensure you thoroughly wet vacuum the area to remove excess moisture. It is also recommended to crack the windows in the car so that it can properly ventilate and avoid molding of damp areas.

Interior Surface Dressing

After your surface clean is complete you can apply a surface dressing to help rejuvenate plastic and vinyl that are dried out and prevent them from cracking. Same goes for the leather surfaces. Dressed up is the ideal vinyl and plastic interior surface dressing as it produces a beautiful factory finish with a low satin shine and no greasy feel.  Of course, make sure you dress those leather surfaces as well with a leather conditioner.

Interior Detail Level Packages

Mini Interior Detail

 For a mini interior detail your objective is to save time and perform a quality interior detail. Typically, this type of detail is done on a fairly well-maintained vehicle that only needs a solid vacuum and quick upholstery cleaning. The Vacuum step Is the same and you can clean all surfaces with a Clean & Shine interior detailer that will lift dirt and oils while leaving behind a low satin finish that is non greasy and will rejuvenate the plastic and vinyl surfaces. Apply leather conditioner to all seats of like material.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget the headliner and sun visors. These areas are touch with oily fingertips and usually only require a quick pass with Clean & Shine in order to remove the stains. You do not want to miss them as they become more noticeable when the entire car is clean.

Mega Interior Detail

Truthfully you can call these two car interior cleaning services whatever names you want. Essentially the minor is for a maintenance detail and the major is for neglected car interiors.

Mega is more in-depth and we have covered each component.

  • Full deep Vacuum.
  • Surface Clean without and dressing to fully remove stains.
  • Deep carpet clean by machine free method or you can use a steamer/extractor to assist in the cleaning.
  • Surface dressing to rejuvenate/hydrate surface and add UV protection.
  • Final vacuum for any residual dust or dirt left after higher surface cleaning.

Areas to make sure you include

  • Move seats fully back and forward to properly vacuum underneath and next to console.
  • Clean headliner and sun visors.
  • Clean rear-view mirror and interior glass.
  • Clean all crevices to include AC vents on dash and panels.
  • Clean around steering column.
  • For cars ensure you clean below back window and trunk space.
  • Clean door jams with waterless wash and microfiber towels.

Window Cleaning

                Windows on the interior of the vehicle typically have less build up then the exterior but you may run into stickers from kiddos and another crud that requires more then a window cleaner. Best method is to use a flat razor blade (useful tool if you know how to use it for both interior and exterior to have on hand) to remove stickers, use a clay bar with a small amount of clay lubricant to remove grime and oils. Thoroughly clean the window with a window cleaner, generally I go over it twice, and then final wipe with a dry microfiber towel to remove any haze and provide an optimal view through the glass.

Final Interior Detailing Tips

Car Seats-If any vehicle you are detailing has car seats, I highly recommend that you remove the seat form the car and clean it outside of the vehicle so you can properly clean the seat underneath. Also DO NOT PUT THE CAR SEAT BACK INTO THE CAR. You do not want to be the one who improperly re-attached a car seat. I always let all my customers know that we are happy to do a solid cleaning of the car seats but we will not put them back into the car. You can always assist at time of pickup. While all the products we recommend for interior cleaning are safe for children, you never know what type of allergies kids may have. It is worth the money to invest in a vapor steamer. It will come in handy for multiple aspects of the auto detailing process and is the perfect tool to clean car seats without the use of chemicals. Always ask your customers if they are okay with the use of chemical on the car seats, ensure it is 100% dried before allowing a child to use it.

Pro Tip: Ever heard of the power cleaner. Use a combination of Hydrogen peroxide, dawn dish soap, and water to make an eco-safe and non-harmful formula to remove oil and dirt from a car seat. Can also be used for multiple other surface.

Mixture: 1 part Dawn dish soap and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide. I like to re-use the hydrogen peroxide bottle and just pour out and mix in Dawn. Add a spray nozzle to the bottle and off you go. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down in the light so large batches are not recommended and the dark bottle helps keep the solution longer.

Lesson Wrap Up

There will be aspects of this lesson that will be updated as we get more in depth with various tools you can use such as a pressure cleaner that uses an air compressor, steamers, and extractors. We create amazing results for our customers with the methods described in this lesson. These additional tools are costly and while they save time they are not fully necessary to achieve fantastic results. Until your budget allows I recommend a little more elbow grease. 

​Quick Links

Carpet Upholster and All Purpose Cleaner: Shine Supply

Bottles and Brushes

Leather and Interior Cleaners and Conditioners: Shine Supply

Have a Questions?

Is there something I missed? Something not clear? Drop a question below and I will gladly answer and update this page as needed. 

Spamming and negative comments will be removed.


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