Interior & Cockpit Care
Your automotive interior is probably as dirty as the exterior of your ride, but you may not know it. Trapped within the carpet’s pile are pebbles and debris tracked in each time you enter the car. Dirt on your clothes and skin sticks to the upholstery, and the grooves and crevices in leather and vinyl accumulate grime. The dash, consoles and other accessory items show splatters from food and drinks, heavy layers of dust and lots of UV exposure.
Carpet & Upholstery
The initial step for anyone cleaning a vehicle’s interior has to be a thorough vacuuming. Hit the seats, dash, floor and just about everywhere else. The only exception is the headliner which is a bit trickier to clean and should be lightly brushed instead of vigorously vacuumed.
To make the job go faster start with a soft, natural bristle brush to loosen clingy dirt from all interior surfaces. After pushing it into an accessible corner use your vacuum’s crevice tool to suck up all the debris. The crevice attachment is also handy for cleaning other hard-to-reach areas. Keep in mind that any chemical treatments for carpet and upholstery need to have a minimal-dirt environment to work properly. You wouldn’t try to wax a muddy car, would you?
If you’re working with carpeting and have vacuumed up all of the dirt, pebbles, sand, ashes, and general muck you’re now ready to liberally spray the area with an upholstery-specific cleaner.
The purpose of a carpet and upholstery cleaner is to loosen the soil’s attachment to the carpet and interior fabric fibers. Mothers® Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner is formulated to free contaminants trapped in the pile and suspend them for easier removal. After application of a carpet and upholstery cleaner, rub the area briskly with a towel and use the brush to further agitate areas with stubborn dirt and stains. Don’t be reluctant to re-treat any portions of material that won’t come clean—several firm attacks are better than one prolonged battle. In many cases your interior has become dirtier than you’d expected, and cleaning individual “dirty spots” may actually leave you with one exceptionally clean area and the rest unevenly dark. Be prepared to treat large areas accurately and evenly to ensure consistent coloring when finished. Also, chase any area cleaned with another vacuuming: dirt once stuck will be loose and/or suspended, ready to come free.
If you see your car as a collection of synthetic materials and manufactured devices, does all that leather belong inside? Sure it does. Auto manufacturers have long used leather to make the interior feel more comfortable and natural—not to mention, it smells great, too. To keep that earthy yet luxurious look at its best, spend some time caring for it with the right methods and materials. Leather is a natural skin and should be cleaned and conditioned much as you would your own. Regular cleaning is the best way to maintain the long-term health of your interior. Leather cleaners like Mothers® Leather Cleaner can be applied to a cotton towel, sponge or directly to the seat and rubbed into the leather, then wipe clean.
Leather often gives up much more dirt than you expect so be sure to clean section by section. If staining and discoloration are heavy, don’t try to clean everything all at once: hit it several times lightly over a period of days, allowing complete drying in between treatments. (You wouldn’t rub your own skin raw, so don’t do it to leather either.) Most leather cleaners are specific to “smooth” leather or “rough” leather and suede. Don’t confuse the two. As with all other car-care chemicals you get what you pay for—cheap leather “cleaners” may lack proper pH balance or could be no more than repackaged low-grade soaps. Mothers® Leather Cleaner is pH balanced and designed to clean leather safely and effectively. One note: be sure to keep leather cleaners from coming in contact with all clear or transparent plastics—they may dull the finish.
Subsequent to cleaning your leather be sure to replenish its natural oils and preservatives with a proper leather conditioner. Once cleaned, leather is bare and unprotected. Protect the leather from UV and environmental abuse (and passenger abuse) by rubbing in the conditioner after each cleaning. Mothers® Leather Conditioner and the new generation LeatherCream® Moisture Rich Conditioner are designed to augment leather’s natural protective oils with neat’s-foot oil and lanolin. You can use a similar applicator for cleaner as well as the conditioner, though you’ll use a heavier dose of conditioner. While not essential some folks prefer using their hands to knead leather conditioner into the surface.
Another option for restoring and maintaining your leather interior is with an all-in-one product. Mothers® Reflections® Leather Care is a multitasking solution that cleans as it conditions. Mothers® VLR cares for 3 interior elements and cleans and conditions vinyl, leather and rubber surfaces. Just spray it on and rub it in. While not always as effective, all-in-one treatments are especially good for covering large areas, such as in SUVs, minivans or wagons, they get the job done in less time because they eliminate the need for additional steps.
Interior plastic and vinyl may not be subjected to as rigorous exposure as an automobile’s exterior layers, but can suffer damage just as easily due to neglect. To protect the dashboard, gauge-cluster lenses, dome lights, shiny plastic molding/trim and various other slick plastic surfaces you’ll need to keep up regular maintenance.
The dashboard should respond well to a penetrating treatment like Mothers ® Protectant. Regular and consistent attention with a high-quality plastic/rubber preservative goes a long way toward minimising the need for repairs of interior parts. Conversely, hard plastics like the gauge-cluster lens or overhead light won’t respond to most protectants and need to be polished much like paint. Plastic polishes are designed to work great on hard plastic, though in the case of advanced stains and yellowing, you might try some very fine sand paper followed by Mothers® Plastic Polish. When you use Mothers® Plastic Polish, it gives you the added benefit of leaving a protective layer behind when buffed away.
Glass & Window
Although not a complicated process glass cleaning does require a few tricks you might not know. Some people prefer paper towels, some like wadded-up newspaper, lint-free microfibre towels work well when kept clean. Mothers® Revision® Glass & Surface Cleaner redefines clean glass for both automotive and household applications—it’s better at pulling off airbornestickiness (such as tobacco smoke haze, interior grime and that new-car film) but won’t harm your dash, leather or tinting (it’s ammonia-free). For application it is better to spray the glass cleaner onto the towel instead of the windows. Be sure to use soft microfibre towels on window tint, as it is easily scratched.
If the outside of your glass is marred with water spotting or small scratches, Mothers® California Gold® WaterSpot Remover for Glass can help to erase the damage. Repeated applications of polish may remove spots, but if defects in the glass are more likely etched it may need to be professionally polished.