Only 32% of people clean or have their vehicle cleaned once a year.* Right now, we need to do it more than ever.

Here’s a good list of supplies to get you started:

  • Car vacuum cleaner with brush and crevice attachments
  • Cotton swabs
  • Plastic and vinyl cleaner
  • Household soap
  • Cloth cleaner
  • Leather cleaner
  • Spot and stain remover
  • Microfiber or paper towels
  • Detailing spray
  • Bug and tar remover
  • Car wash
  • Clay bar
  • Wax and applicators
  • Ammonia-free glass cleaner
  • Wheel cleaner
  • Lambswool wash mitt
  • Polishing cloths
  • Nylon or natural bristle brush
  • Detail brush
  • Wash bucket
  • Water hose

Deep Cleaning

As with washing your hands, soap and water are your vehicle’s best defense against germs and bacteria that are naturally found in high-traffic areas. Using household soaps on your vehicle’s most touched surfaces is safe and harmless to leather and fabric (but always read the product label just to be sure). As much as you want to eliminate germs, you don’t want to damage your car’s interior, so avoid scrubbing vigorously or using stiff bristle brushes. You should avoid using wipes and sprays that contain a citrus fragrance (terpene hydrocarbon/d-limonene) and/or chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) cleaning agents. Also, all disinfectant products dispersed by an aerosol container are not recommended. Please keep in mind that damage to your vehicle as a result of using non-recommended products may void the warranty.

Pay extra attention to high-touch areas, including:

  • Steering wheel
  • Safety belts
  • Cupholders
  • Gear shift
  • Key fobs
  • Inside door handles
  • Center console
  • Armrests
  • Touchscreens
  • Audio controls
  • Start/stop button
  • Window/seat/mirror controls
  • Rearview mirror


Start with the carpet, seats, dash and package shelf or rear cargo areas. A vacuum attachment with a brush helps dislodge stubborn dirt; a narrow crevice attachment tool will clean hard-to-reach spots like under the seats.

Seat Cleaning

If you have cloth seats, spread cloth cleaner with a sponge and let it sit. Once it’s dry, vacuum it up and remove any leftover cleaner with a clean towel.

If your seats are leather, remove stains and grime with the leather cleaner, a clean towel and light pressure. Be gentle as hard rubbing could remove the dye.

Interior Trim

Polish up your interior trim pieces with plastic and vinyl cleaner. Most cleaners have the added benefit of long-term protection once they dry. Apply with a clean towel to help remove dried grime. Don’t forget the hard-to-reach areas like the instrument cluster, emblems, switches, air vents, audio system and dash. Your cotton swab can be helpful for these areas.

Washing the Exterior

Park your vehicle in the shade, then wash it with a bucket of car wash and a lambswool mitt. Again, focus on high-touch areas such as door handles, door edges and latches. Don’t forget the hood, rear hatch and trunk. Rinse with a garden hose from the top down. Dry with a microfiber towel, starting with the windows, then moving to the paint. Always dry in the shade and be sure it’s completely dry before water spots form.

How Do I Prevent Paint Damage?

When a vehicle is left outside, it can be exposed to harmful factors: bird droppings, tree sap or acid rain. These can lead to costly repairs or damage to your vehicle’s finish. If you can’t store it in a garage, car covers rated for outdoor use are highly recommended.