How To Look After Your Car Interior

I often find that, while people are keen to keep the inside of their homes super-pristine, when it comes to their cars it’s a different story. If you have too much rubbish and debris on the floor or on the dashboard, it can get in the way of your driving. You don’t want slippy controls or an old water bottle rolling around with the risk of it getting stuck under your pedals.

If you don’t keep car windows nice and clean, the build-up of dirt and grime can prevent you from seeing properly and could potentially cause a nasty accident. Cleaning the interior of your car is important for maintenance and value. Cleaning the car interior is also something you can get the children involved in, providing it is parked up in a safe area.

DECLUTTER Start by decluttering your car and make a point of adding this to your family cleaning schedule. Better still, get into the habit of taking any rubbish with you every time you leave the car.

Don’t leave it in the car to accumulate. If you have anything in the boot (an old sports bag or a bag of clothes that you have been meaning to drop off at the charity shop), make sure you deal with it. You may also have books, magazines, toys or note pads in the car. The car is not for storage – clear them out regularly.

WIPE DOWN THE INTERIOR FITTINGS Start with the dashboard so that any dust or dirt that falls can be vacuumed up later. Take a bowl of clean soapy water and a few old cloths and wipe over the dashboard, door pockets and around the glove box. Don’t forget to wipe over the steering wheel and gear stick and any little trays or compartments. A cotton bud is useful for hard-to-reach areas or for cleaning around any electrical buttons. Buff dry with a clean dry cloth, then use a glass cleaner and give it all a final buff for a shiny finish.

WINDOWS If you have young children, the car windows may have quite a few sticky finger marks. Microfibre cloths are great for cleaning windows and glass and they avoid streaking. Wipe down with a mixture of white wine vinegar and water and buff dry with a clean cloth.

CAR MATS Take these out and give them a really good shake. If they are the plastic-type, give them a really good clean with warm soapy water and a sponge. Hang them to dry naturally. If you have carpeted mats, give them a really good vacuum. If they smell, sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda with a nice essential oil mixed in. Leave for about 1 hour, then just vacuum the bicarbonate of soda off.

VACUUM While the mats are drying, give the car a really good vacuum. Start at the top and work your way down and use the vacuum nozzle attachment. First, give the seats a really good vacuum, including the headrests, and get right into those crevices. Then, tackle the floor and the boot.

SEATS If you have any stains or marks on the seats, use an upholstery cleaner. If you have leather seats, wash over with warm soapy water and buff dry with a clean cloth. Use a leather treatment to keep them in good condition. Finish with a good spray of fabric refresher. Give my homemade refresher a try (see page 19) and leave your car smelling really good. Don’t forget to put back your nice clean mats. It is so satisfying to have a clean car interior. The next time you use it, it will smell lovely and will make your driving experience a whole lot more enjoyable.

Let’s talk about plastic

We all need to try to make a few changes to reduce our use of plastic and dispose of it properly. Follow a few of my simple steps to help reduce plastic in your home. Buy in bulk Buying cleaning products and food in bulk uses less packaging than buying smaller amounts more frequently.

Transfer perishable foods, such as cereals, to air-tight tubs to keep them fresh and it will have the two-fold benefit of helping the environment and saving you money! Re-use shopping bags Plastic bags are a big culprit in contributing to our plastic usage, but there are so many alternatives.

Take bags with you when you go shopping, carry a lightweight cotton or canvas bag with you at all times or, if you’re only buying one or two items, just carry the items yourself. Make your own cleaning products Shop-bought cleaning products tend to be made from concentrate and contain up to ninety percent water. You’re essentially paying for water and the plastic bottle.

Why not make your own cleaning products using the recipes in this book! Make home-cooked meals Avoid ready meals and takeaways packaged in plastic and cook from scratch with fresh ingredients at home.

Not only will you reduce your plastic consumption, but it will save you money and improve your diet. Avoid wet wipes and cleaning wipes As handy as they are, avoid using cleaning wipes, wet wipes, and baby wipes as they are made with plastic resins such as polyester and are responsible for clogging drains when they are flushed down the toilet.

Avoid drinking straws Plastic straws are an easy one to avoid, especially the ones that come wrapped in plastic – a double whammy! Just sip your beverages right from the cup, or you can use a paper straw or try a reusable one.

Use reusable water bottles are perhaps the easiest way you can reduce your plastic consumption and there are so many options available, in so many styles and materials. I never leave home without mine. Replace your razor blades Replace disposable plastic razors with a metal razor that will take replaceable razor blades.