“What’s that smell?” A question no one wants to ask or hear when they get into their vehicle. For many of us, our cars are not only our primary means of transportation, but also a storage bin for our gear, a mobile cafeteria, and much more. Spending that much time in your car inevitably means it gets dusty, muddy, salty, or smelly.
To counteract the persistent soiling of your car interior, there is a wide range of products for cleaning, shining, deodorising and disinfecting. And if you’re like many people, paying for in-depth detailing every week is unrealistic. Or maybe you just enjoy the satisfaction of cleaning your own car. Whatever your reasons for needing to freshen up the interior of your vehicle, be sure to read our guide to making your car’s interior look and smell like the day you pulled out of the lot. At eBay Motors, our list of must-have items makes it easy to do a quick one-off or a thorough spring cleaning.
1. Vacuum cleaner
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When vacuuming your car, start by removing your dirty floor mats and laying them outside the vehicle. While it’s perfectly acceptable to use a regular household or shop vacuum, using a proper car vacuum can really up your cleaning game. Most car vacuums come with special power cords that plug into any 12-volt outlet in your vehicle. Others may be wireless or have the option for both. 12 volt car vacuums are convenient because you don’t have to worry about annoying extension cords and whether the vacuum can reach all the places you need it.
Another handy feature of a car-specific vacuum cleaner is that most of them come with accessories specifically designed to get into those awkward and hard-to-reach places between and under seats, in trunks, center consoles, etc. Some even come with a cool vent cleaning tool.
2. Upholstery cleaner
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Next on the list of must-haves for car cleaning is a quality, heavy-duty upholstery cleaner. There is a plethora of options here. If you have a primarily leather interior, you should choose a different upholstery cleaner than if you have a fabric interior. Most car carpet cleaning products come with a heavy-duty scrubbing brush or tool that you can use to loosen stubborn or ingrained dirt, debris, and mud.
Many upholstery cleaners are available as an aerosol foam or spray, depending on preference or the type of upholstery being cleaned. Upholstery cleaners often use a fresh scent so you can start removing the smell of stale, spilled coffee from your car’s carpets. If you are sensitive to perfumes, be sure to buy one that is fragrance-free.
3. Glass cleaner
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Auto glass can be a fickle beast when it comes to cleaning. Sure, you can use regular household glass cleaner, but using a reliable auto glass cleaner will help ensure you get a streak-free clean that’s safe to use on both tinted glass and regular clear glass. A good way to avoid streaky cleaner marks on your car windows is to wash your windows in the shade. Cleaning car glass in direct sunlight can cause the product to dry unevenly, leaving annoying spots or streaks that distract you in the face of oncoming headlights or sunlight.
Auto glass cleaners are available in sprays, aerosols, or disposable wipes. Sometimes you can also buy glass cleaner and refresher in a paste that also creates a hydrophobic seal that prevents moisture and condensation from sticking to your car’s windows and windshield.
4. Dashboard Cleaner
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Your car’s dashboard collects a lot of dust and dirt over time. It is recommended to use a specialty dashboard cleaner that is safe to use on plastic or leather dashboards and will not cause any damage to your car’s dashboard or console components. Some dashboard cleaners contain additives that can help restore an older, faded, or weathered dashboard to its original, like-new condition. Others have a chemical composition that leaves a matte finish that isn’t sticky or messy and helps prevent new dust and dirt from being attracted.
While most dash cleaners come in a typical spray bottle, some come as a putty or gel designed to fit around small, intricate areas like vents, cup holders, ashtrays, and more to catch dirt, dust, and debris from others remove impossible-to-reach places.
5. Deodorizers and air fresheners
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Last on the list of essential car interior cleaning items is the ever-popular car air freshener or car deodorizer. Depending on how unpleasant and stale your car’s interior smells, there’s almost certainly a product that can tackle even some of the toughest odors (assuming any odors linger after the thorough cleaning efforts listed above). You can get everything from non-toxic, eco-friendly essential oil air fresheners to unobtrusive cans of gel air fresheners that hide under your car seats, aerosol deodorant sprays, stick-on air fresheners, and of course, the quintessential hanging tree or tag that you prominently display on your Present rearview mirror.
With so many styles and uses for car air fresheners, it’s also no surprise that you can get virtually any scent imaginable. Do you have a favorite tropical scent? No problem? Do you want to achieve that new car smell? There are many opportunities. Damn, you want a car that smells like bacon? Yes, you can have that too. Getting crazy!