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Spring cleaning your car is a great way to get your vehicle tidied up after a long, cold—not to mention wet and messy—winter stretch. However, finding the motivation to clean can be a little easier said than done. This is where these easy spring cleaning chores for your car interior can come in handy, especially since they can be done in super-quick spurts for when you’re short on time or just patience.

In this post…

Tips to Get You Started and Motivated

Assess the Situation

If your car is pretty dirty, we suggest decluttering and trying to clean it in layers—especially if there’s a lot of dirt involved, such as from off-roading, construction jobs, kids, pets, sports practice, etc. That usually means systematically cleaning up the dirtiest areas first or moving in an order that makes the most sense, rather than just diving in and cleaning randomly.

Depending on the level of mess involved, you may need to repeat some steps to get the best overall clean. For instance, you could do a light dusting and vacuuming when you first get started and then repeat the steps but with more detail when you’re close to being finished.

If your car is relatively clean, you may want to move in an order that will save you steps, such as working your way from the top down or whatever method works best for you. Otherwise, clean in an order that works for you.

Plan Your Steps

No matter how you choose to do spring cleaning chores on the interior of your car, it’s always a good idea to plan your steps. This way, you’ll be able to move and work more efficiently throughout the process, potentially saving yourself a lot of time and effort in the long run.

That’s why we took the liberty of breaking things down for you by using a 3-Phase system, which focuses on:

  1. Declutter and Organize
  2. Dust and Vacuum
  3. Clean, Polish, and Protect

Breaking It Down

We also broke the tasks down further and into more manageable, bite-sized pieces under each phase. For most of the tasks (or steps), we also provide instructions and tips for those who are looking for a little more instruction or advice. And we even offer some suggestions on products or tools that might help you out along the way, but they’re also 100% optional.

Try a Timed Challenge

If you find that you’re really lacking motivation, you can try doing the 5-Minute Challenge on your car as we have mentioned in our other Spring Cleaning Series posts. This simply means setting a timer to work on your car in 5, 10, 15, or even 20-minute intervals.

Timing yourself is an excellent way to hold yourself accountable and to challenge yourself. Above all, you can use it to keep yourself focused and to avoid procrastination. You can also turn it into a bit of a game by finishing x-amount of tasks on the list within a certain amount of time. Whenever I don’t feel like doing something, especially if it’s built up in my mind, I always set a timer for a few minutes, pick a task and go.

Phase 1: Declutter and Organize

Taking the time to declutter before you begin spring cleaning chores on the interior of your car is usually a good first step. Fortunately, it’s also something you can break down into baby steps if you feel the need to or lack the time. However, if you want to do it all at once, then please do so.

1. Declutter the car floor.


Decluttering your vehicle will ensure that you don’t get distracted as you clean other areas of the car. It will also help you clean the surfaces around you and it should only take a few minutes.

If you feel like you could take on more, you can also declutter the seats, as mentioned in the next step.


Make sure to have a trash bag and a recycling bag with you. This way, you’ll avoid having to make extra trips. It might also help to have a bag, box, or even a portable hamper with you if you need to grab toys, pet items, sports gear, etc. You can set any decluttered items you find aside and deal with them later.

Helpful Habit

Consider making it a habit to clean out your car every week, or at least once a month.

You can also keep a trash bin or bag in your vehicle to keep the mess contained on a day-to-day basis, rather than dumping it on the floor, the door compartments, backseat, passenger seat, glove box, or center console if you do already or are just prone to forgetting. #NoJudging

These days, you can even find plenty of trash cans specifically designed for cars that might be helpful.

Phase 2: Vacuum and Dust

Vacuuming and dusting after you decluttering is a great next step. However, if your car is fairly dirty, you may need to vacuum and dust more than once throughout the process of cleaning your car, treating it in layers. This is due to dust and dirt often getting scattered in the air as we clean, only to land everywhere as it settles. In the end, do what works best for you and do the best you can.

3. Vacuum the front of the car.

In most cases, you can make quick work of vacuuming the inside of the car, but if you need to break it down into sections, try splitting it up from front vs. back vs. trunk/cargo.

Remember, it’s often best to work from the top on down due to dust, debris, and dirt falling when disrupted. Therefore, you may find it easier to work your way from the top of the doors to the dash, seats, and console, followed by the floor last.


Make use of your vacuum’s upholstery and dusting attachments. You can also find car vacuums for an affordable price so that you can easily keep up on vacuuming the car out on a more regular basis.

If, however, you don’t have a vacuum with attachment, you can try to use something like an upholstery brush on fabric seats and carpet to loosen trapped dirt and dust before vacuuming.

Don't forget to bookmark this page so you can come back for more.

Phase 3: Dust, De-Funkify, and Polish

People tend to overthink the cleaning process, but with the dusting, decluttering, and vacuuming out of the way, the next step shouldn’t take too long at all.

  1. Clean surfaces and seats according to the material involved.
  2. Polish (optional)
  3. Protect (optional)

Use whatever cleaning tools or cleaners you feel comfortable with and based on the materials (i.e., leather, wood, etc.). Some people prefer to use a good quality microfiber cloth with a small amount of water or whatever home-based cleaners.

Others may prefer store-bought car cleaners for the interior since they offer special benefits like polish and protection from the sun’s rays and kind of work as an all-in-one.

1. Clean the dash.


Your car’s dash is an area that gets plenty of abuse, particularly where the sun is concerned, making it a hot spot for germs, dirt, and possible sun damage.

Thus, it’s crucial to keep up on maintaining it regularly to keep it looking and functioning like new, even beyond just working on spring cleaning chores for your car interior.

The amount of time it may take can vary, as well as how much attention you want to give the tasks. You can also break things down into smaller segments, such as doing the major dusting one day and cleaning the more detailed dusting the next. Then follow up by vacuuming the third day, and then wiping everything down with cleaner and protectant on the fourth day, etc.

Choose whichever method works best for your needs and schedule.

Things you might need or find useful:

  • Microfiber cloth or lint-free cloth
  • Some form of compressed air (i.e., blower, aerosol air duster, etc.)
  • A vacuum w/ dust attachments and upholstery attachments
  • A duster, dusting cloth, or dusting glove
  • Brushes for detail cleaning, like this set here, or:
    • A soft-bristled paintbrush or toothbrush (optional)
    • An upholstery brush (fabric panels) (optional)
    • A brush for leather upholstery (optional)
    • Q-Tips
    • Old or unwanted (and clean) makeup brushes
  • Your favorite dashboard cleaner or some mild soap and warm water
  • Protectant

Generalized Steps

People typically have their favorite method for doing spring cleaning chores on their car interior, which can often depend on the types of material involved. Therefore, do what works best for your situation and preference.

However, make sure to choose gentle cleaning tools and products so that you won’t accidentally damage the surfaces you’ll be cleaning. It’s also wise to use a protectant designed for the interior of cars so that your dash and other areas of the interior are protected, particularly from the sun.

  1. Declutter
  2. Dust and vacuum
  3. Test whatever products you plan to use
  4. Wipe things down with your preferred cleaning method, tool, or products. Pay special attention to points of contact, such as the steering wheel, stereo, glove compartment exterior, and signal and windshield wiper controls.
  5. Detail clean small crevices
  6. Clean and polish glass, chrome, and other reflective surfaces. We love to use a microfiber cloth and a polishing cloth and water only, but it’s up to you.
  7. Use your favorite interior protectant, such as Armor All everywhere else, and as instructed.

Note: Always test whatever products or methods you plan to use first. When in doubt, contact the product manufacturer.

9. Clean points of contact.

Consider giving frequently touched points of contact a thorough cleaning with a sanitizer or product of your choosing and/or based on the material being cleaned.

  1. Steering wheel
  2. Handles
  3. Shifter
  4. Buttons
  5. Lever
  6. Rearview mirror
  7. Stereo
  8. Seatbelts
  9. Grab handles
  10. Locks and window buttons
  11. AC vents

10. Clean and polish interior glass and mirrors.

Clean and polish any glass or interior mirrors using products of your choosing. Some people may do this with glass cleaner or prefer a microfiber cloth and some water along with a polishing cloth.

11. Clean and polish any chrome, wood, or reflective surfaces.

Clean and polish chrome, wood, or any reflective surface using a product of your choosing.

12. Freshen things up (optional).

Even though this is an optional step while doing these spring cleaning chores for your interior, you may find it rewarding to freshen up your car by giving it a clean-smelling or aromatic scent. It’s entirely up to you!


Generally, while car freshener scent cards and air fresheners are popular choices, we commonly found that fabric-based sprays tend to work best and last longer.

This is usually with odor-eliminators that also provide some tantalizing scent, such as some products by Clorox or Febreze. Or types that come as a fragrance-free odor eliminator, like this Zero Odor product and Febreze fragrance-free option, which we found worked well on seats and floors (when leather is involved).


Regardless if you lack the motivation or time, you can easily break down some of your spring cleaning chores for the interior of your car into more manageable increments, such as with these easy spring cleaning chores for your car interior. Many of them can be done in just a few minutes or spread out throughout the week and tailored to suit your schedule.

As far as car-cleaning chores go, sometimes it helps to treat it in layers, especially if your car is filthy. You break things down into layers by following the 3-Phase method:

  1. Declutter and Organize
  2. Dust and Vacuum
  3. Clean, Polish, and Protect

Ready for another spring cleaning challenge?
How about trying the bathroom on for size, with our 24 Simple 5-Minute Spring Cleaning Chores in the Bathroom challenge?

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