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How to Give Dad’s Car an Interior Deep Clean

From the coffee stains on the seats to the smudges on the dash, here’s how to give Dad’s ride a makeover in time for his big day.

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Here's how to get Dad's car in tip-top shape before your next summer road trip. Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Do you have a dad obsessed with how his ride looks from the outside, but more relaxed when it comes to addressing the everyday dirt and dust gathering on the inside? This Father’s Day, put a huge smile on the old man’s face with a quick detailing job that goes beyond the standard vacuuming and removes tough stains and odors.

Here at NAPA AUTO PARTS, we compiled a list of the top interior detailing tips that are sure to leave Dad beaming on Father’s Day and ready to hit the road with a clean slate.

Grab the right tools

A woman cleans the interior of her car using a vacuum cleaner.
A woman cleans the interior of her car using a vacuum cleaner. SpeedKingz/Shutterstock

Before turning on the vacuum and removing any garbage, dirt or associated debris from Dad’s ride, pick up this interior detail brush set. It comes packed with a useful variety of tools that can pierce crevices vacuums can’t, dislodging stubborn particles that can then be sucked up later. Use these on everything from the dashboard to air vents and the small recesses of the center console.

Also, ditch the paper towels and invest in some microfiber cleaning cloths. Not only are these towels reusable and environmentally friendly, but they’re also perfect for picking up dust and other grime without scratching the various surfaces of Dad’s car.

Cleaning with green microfiber cloth polishing car, interior concept
Cleaning with green microfiber cloth polishing car, interior concept. nikolaborovic/Shutterstock

Give that dashboard a fresh look

If you dad’s car is rich in vinyl, consider picking up a cleaner like Lucas Oil’s Slick Mist to give it a new-car look. Interior sprays like this one offer UV protection to prevent cracking and fading and quickly remove stains and other marks common on vinyl surfaces. Gently spray onto a microfiber towel and wipe down the dash, console and door panels. You’ll be amazed — and Dad will greatly appreciate — the beautiful finish that will appear.

Make that touchscreen shine

Is it getting harder for Dad to see the sullen reaction of everyone’s faces in the back seat when he loads up his favorite music on long car rides? Grab your microfiber towel and a quality glass cleaner and give all the interior windows, side mirrors, and rear view mirror a thorough wipe. As most vehicles increasingly feature console touch panels, don’t forget to gently spray and wipe these focal points to remove any fingerprints or associated grime. Dad will more easily be able to see his song selections –– and the associated eye rolls from passengers.

Exorcise the carpet demons

man cleans carpets in car
Carpet stain removers, which can lift dirt and dissolve stains, work best when combined with a stiff bristle brush. Milos jaksic/Shutterstock

Are you ready to restore the very fabric under Dad’s feet to a nearly new-car look? While car carpets can be stubborn in giving up stains from food, grease and other marks, the right products will quickly give them a fresh makeover. And if Dad or the family just can’t seem to keep the stains from returning, consider picking up some rubber floor mats to better protect the carpet underneath and keep future maintenance to a minimum.

Hit the seats

cleaning leather seats in car
Professional detailers often apply a cleaner followed by a conditioning agent to preserve suppleness and prevent cracking and aging. Longchalerm Rungruang/Shutterstock

Whether the seats of Dad’s car are leather or upholstery, chances are good they could use a bit of a deep clean. With upholstery, your best bet is to pick up a spray-on cleaner that can quickly dissolve stains from coffee, tea, food or mud and grease. After letting the spray soak in for a bit, gently massage the stain out using a microfiber towel.

To perform a thorough cleaning of upholstery, you may also want to consider renting a carpet cleaning machine from a local hardware store. These handy cleaners will drench fabric seats and then suck the liquid and stains back up for a true deep-clean look.

Leather seats require a few more steps. Whichever type of seat Dad has, make sure you first test for color fade by applying any cleaning product to a small, inconspicuous area. Once you’re satisfied the product won’t damage the look of the seat, you can move forward with giving it a proper deep clean.

Protect from pets

dog sticking head out of car on road trip
A clean car will make Dad as happy as this guy. MPH Photos/Shutterstock

If your dad has a habit of inviting the family dog along for rides, consider reducing the amount of mud or hair that gathers on seats with a stylish cover. With so many options available for both front and back seats, we’re pretty sure he’ll find something to match Fido’s demeanor, while also avoiding tough stains and odors down the road.

That new car smell

To complete the deep interior clean of Dad’s ride, be sure to eliminate any pesky odors that might be lingering. All-purpose odor sprays are handy at neutralizing smells from common mishaps like pet accidents, spoiled food or even air conditioning units. If the source of the odor is unknown, you can also sprinkle baking soda over and under the seats and carpets and leave overnight. After vacuuming in the morning, the offending odor will likely be gone and you’ll be basking in the sweet smell of success.

For more ideas and tips, stop by your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store to get Dad’s ride revved and ready for this Father’s Day.