Looks are important when it comes to selling cars. You could say that, in many cases, the car's appearance is more important than mileage, fuel efficiency and extra features. A car's interior can make or break a sale because it's often a tipoff as to how well the car was maintained. If you want to sell your car fast, here are some cleaning tips to get the interior up to snuff.
1. Get the proper tools for the job.
Most car interiors are made of leather, upholstery, vinyl, and in some cases, wood trim. For instance, leather should be soft and supple, requiring a cleaner with conditioners. Likewise, you should only clean upholstery with an automotive upholstery cleaner.
You'll find the following tools helpful for detailing most car interiors:
- Upholstery and leather cleaners
- Leather and vinyl protectants
- Stiff and soft bristled brushes
- Cotton swabs
- Window cleaner
- Microfiber cloths
2. Examine and adjust the ceiling, if necessary.
The ceiling should require little, if any, cleaning. If you notice any sagging or drooping in the ceiling fabric or foam, have it replaced. Headline tacks are a short-term solution for holding the fabric in place, but they're unattractive and should not be used if you expect to get top dollar for your sale.
3. Clean the vinyl and leather.
For particularly dirty interiors, clean the vinyl and leather on the dashboard, console and doors before you vacuum. You should only use the cleaner at this point, saving the polish for later. Use a soft bristled brush to get into cracks and crevices that owners often neglect over the years. For tough crevices, use a stiff brush sparingly. Cotton swabs are also useful for getting into tight spots in the vents and around the door handles.
4. Vacuum the seats and floors.
Now that you've knocked all the dust off the dashboard, it's time to get to work using your vacuum. Move from the back to the front, taking out the floor mats and readjusting the seats as necessary to vacuum underneath. Don't forget to make use of the attachments to get in hard-to-reach places. You should also run the hose around the cup holders and console in case any crumbs, dust or debris are stuck there.
5. Remove stains from the upholstery.
If you have children or use your car frequently, odds are that it has a few stains. In most cases, an upholstery cleaner from your local auto retail store will be sufficient for minor stains. Usually, you apply the cleaner and rub it in using a wet cloth or brush. Once the spot is dry and the stain is removed, vacuum over the area. Tougher stains may require a shampooer or steam cleaner for deep cleaning.
6. Polish the vinyl and leather.
Now it's time to make the interior shine. Save this step until you're nearly done because waxes and polishes attract dust. For example, if you wait to vacuum after you've applied the protectant, you're likely to find the dashboard covered in a fine layer of dust again. If you wait, you'll save yourself a lot of headache.
Waxes and polishes should be applied lightly to the interior, particularly if you're applying it to the seats. You don't want to make the seats so oily that they stain your clothes. Whatever you do, avoid putting too much protectant on the steering wheel. It could cause your hands to slip while driving.
7. Clean the windows and electronics.
Lastly, wipe down all the windows and electronics in the car. When saved for last, this will help you remove any products that got on the glass or plastic during the previous steps. Use microfiber cloths or newspapers and auto-grade window cleaner to wipe down the windows; paper towels, though convenient, are notorious for leaving lint behind. Also, avoid cleaning the windows during the heat of the day when the cleaner is likely to dry before it's wiped off. Wait until evening when the temperatures are cooler.
Once the inside is fresh and sparkling, you're ready to dazzle potential buyers at places like U Pick U Save. Your clean, tidy interior is sure to give a good impression and help you get top dollar during your sale.