Originally published April 16, 2015. Updated April 27, 2020.
Knowing how to spring clean your car well makes the task so-oooo much easier.
I spend so much time in my car in the spring and summer traveling and sitting at kids’ sports practices and games, so having a cleaner car is important to me. I don’t want to be trapped in the small enclosed space of my car with a winter’s worth of dust, dirt and grime.
It’s spring. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing and it’s time for spring cleaning. I look forward to shaking off the dust and dirt of winter each spring with a thorough deep cleaning of my home and car. Over the years, I’ve wrestled with how to spring clean my car and have discovered 6 tips that work for me.
How to Spring Clean Your Car
The secret to a thorough spring cleaning of your car is gathering the right supplies and choosing a nice day when you can allocate at least an hour to cleaning.
- Vacuum attachments – crevice nozzle and dust brush
- Paper towels
- Glass cleaner
- 2 Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
- A bowl or bucket of water
- A bowl or bucket of all purpose cleaner
- Fabuloso all purpose cleaner is a popular choice
Check out my Tips for a Clean Car Interior in No Time to keep the car clean by using wasted time waiting in the car. We all waste way too much time just sitting in the car, why not make that item work for you.
6 Steps to Clean the Car Interior
Vacuum the dashboard, doors, console and any other surfaces other than the upholstery and carpet
I use the soft brush attachment on the vacuum to remove all dust and debris. I’m careful to look in crevices where dust or other surprises maybe hiding.
Use all purpose cleaner to wipe down plastic or metal surfaces
I add a tsp of all purpose cleaner to a large bowl of water. I also have a second bowl of water for rinsing. I use a cloth to wipe every surface down with cleaner and then wipe the surfaces well with a second cloth dipped in water. I clean from the top down and leave the door wells for later. I often have to change out the bowls of cleaner and water a couple of times.
Clean the seats
Vacuum all the upholstery. Use the crevice tool to get down into the back of the seats. Clean up stains with a soft cloth and water. For more stubborn stains, check your car manual for cleaning recommendations.
Vacuum the carpets
Remove the floor mats. I shake them out first and then vacuum them well. Vacuum in one direction first and then vacuum in the other direction to remove all the debris. I often find it helpful to just use the vacuum nozzle without any attachments.
I then vacuum the carpet inside the car. I like to use the crevice tool to get into hard to reach spots. Here again, I find it most effective to use the vacuum nozzle without any attachments on the carpet.
I take everything out of the trunk and vacuum it well. I know the trunk is clean when I can see vacuum lines in the carpet (and it makes me very happy). I then return only the necessary items to my trunk (how did all those extra things sneak into the trunk?!)
Clean the windows and mirrors
I’m always surprised at how much dirt and yuck I wipe off of the inside of the windows and the interior mirrors. I’m ecstatic at how much clearer my windows and visibility are.
After I’ve vacuumed all the carpet, I use my bowl of all purpose cleaner and wipe down the door wells where grease and dirt collect. I rinse these surfaces well with water and then dry them with a paper towel. Taking the extra few minutes to clean this area seems pointless until your daughter’s beautiful prom dress is marred by brushing against her friend’s car door (ask how I know!).
Add your own car freshener that costs pennies
Instead of purchasing a car freshener, I just make my own. Start with a repurposed plastic berry container. The smaller berry containers are the perfect size. I use a couple of paper towels and all purpose cleaner. I choose a cleaner with a fresh scent, like the soothing lavender Fabuloso® all purpose cleaner I used to clean my car.
I simply add a few drops of cleaner to the paper towels, fold them up and place them inside the cleaned berry container. I put the container under the front seat of my car. Voila! My nice clean car will continue to smell clean and fresh for days. When I find that the scent is lessening, I just add a few more drops of fresh smelling cleaner.
Every time I’ve jumped into my car this week to rush off to another activity, I’ve actually paused for a moment to enjoy my fresh smelling and beautifully clean car. Really.
I knew I’d done a great job of spring cleaning my car when my teen daughter got into the car, paused and said, “Hey, mom, the car looks great. And it smells good, too.” When my teenager notices, I know I’ve made a big impact.
More spring cleaning ideas:
- My favorite Tips for a Clean Car Interior in No Time by taking advantage of time spent waiting at kids’ sports practices and activities.
- Spring Organizing Tea with Repurposed Items – You can organize your kitchen for free by using repurposed items.
- Age-Appropriate Chores for Kids – Have your children help you clean windows and teach responsibility and have family fun together.
- Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist and Tips – These 50+ cleaning tips and the free 6-page spring cleaning checklist will help you with a thorough spring cleaning of 10 areas of your home.
Do you have any favorite tips on how to spring clean your car?
Find all my best cleaning tips and hacks in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.
I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.