These days’ people are keeping their cars for longer and longer periods of time. A car that might once have been kept by the same owner for three or four years may be kept for ten years or more in today’s environment. The escalating cost of ownership has resulted in many car buyers keeping their vehicles until they have wrung every last mile out of them. However, as your vehicle ages, it becomes increasingly important that you take proper care of the interior. One important reason for this is the appearance of the car, of course, but also for reasons of basic hygiene.
Because your vehicle is exposed to the elements it is usually way dirtier than your home. Some university studies have shown that cars have up to 1700 times more bacteria than the typical house! Cup holders can be particularly nasty collectors of bacteria with more than 200% of the number of germs found on the average toilet seat! Not only disgusting but also dangerous if you are breathing it in regularly. So what are some things you can do to keep your car interior looking and smelling like new?
The biggest problem arises when food and drink are consumed in the car. Food stains are notoriously difficult to remove from upholstery, and even when it is removed, a stain often remains, especially with carbonated drinks and sugary sodas! Grease from food goes onto fingers, fingers touch the interior (from fabrics to plastics to wood to chrome) and dirt collects. Food residues like bread flakes are inevitable when eating and dropped and discarded food is often forgotten – until it is too late.
Then there is all the packaging that comes with it. Paper bags, plastic coverings and all kinds of wrapping get discarded and left, usually in the floorboards or stuffed into side pockets and door spaces. The simplest solution is don’t eat in the car! Not eating in the car will save you time and money and make the cleaning you do have to do easier.
When cleaning does become necessary you will want to vacuum your car thoroughly, make sure you vacuum the vents as well since they tend to collect dust and pollen. You will also want to clean all seats and seat backs, floorboards and any other places where dirt might tend to accumulate.
The next step is to clean all upholstery and vinyl interiors, dashboard, gear shift, steering column and so forth. Use a good quality microfiber cloth and the proper type of cleaning solution (which can be purchased at most auto supply or department stores). You will also want to use a high-quality glass cleaner and a clean, soft cloth to wipe down all window surfaces. Make sure the cloth is clean since any grime or grit can damage window surfaces! Don’t use any harsh detergents or bleach-based products to clean since they can fade and damage carpets and upholstery. If you have leather seats, you will want to use specially formulated leather cleaning products to keep them smooth and supple and avoid damage. Avoid cleaning the brake and gas pedals in your car as this can make them slippery and hazardous.
Other steps you can take include parking your car in the garage or under a shelter to avoid long-term sun damage. If you don’t have a garage spot available, you may want to consider getting tinted windows to reduce the influx of solar radiation which can fade and damage interior fabrics. If you choose to use a deodorant spray, tread lightly as the strong scent of some sprays can be overpowering in an enclosed space. With just a few simple steps you can keep your car interior looking like new and preserve the value of your vehicle!