How to Know When to Clean Your Car Interior

The office pals decide to go out for a Friday lunch at Applebee’s, and since Nick has a minivan, he can fit all five people into his car. Nick jogs ahead to make sure everything is cleared away so there’s room for people to sit, and it dawns on him… this car is a god damn mess.

Nick has two weeks worth of mail, three caps, a gym bag, two old musty gym towels, a handful of protein bar wrappers, and for some reason, an Amazon box full of used spark plugs on the passenger’s seat alone! He grabs a huge handful of the junk and hurls it into the back end. And then he opens the side doors and sighs. The middle and back are even worse.

The co-workers arrive at Nick’s car and they quickly realize this may not work.

Not only is one of the middle row chairs occupied by a child’s carseat, the back row of seats are folded down and Nick has a lot of crap he would have to move out of the way to put the seats up.

“Hey, why don’t we cram in my car,” Gary asks. “Deb, you can squeeze in the middle.”

“No, no, this will just take a second,” Nick snaps back as he blindly hurls all the remaining junk into the far back and begins trying to put the seats up. “Where is the strap? I can’t find the strap. You’re supposed to be able to pull the strap and the seats come out!”

“Jesus Christ, everybody in my car,” Gary says, as the crew all heads to Gary’s Accord.

After returning from a regrettable Applebee’s experience that left everyone a little underwhelmed, Nick knows that it’s time to give his van a good deep clean over the weekend.

How do you know when it’s time to give your car the old vacuum treatment, or better yet, a professional detailing?

  • Look for dirt on the floor. If the floor appears to have bits of dirt or gravel embedded deep in the fabric, it’s time for a cleaning.
  • Look for dust on the dashboard and doors. If you can run your finger along the dash and it reveals an easily visible path, it’s time to start scrubbing.
  • Look for streaks on the windows and windshield. If you have any trouble seeing the road clearly, this is a telltale sign your car needs to be cleaned.
  • If you can’t see much of the floor due to books, mail, and toys littering the car, it’s definitely time.
  • If there is old gym clothing and towels, or sports equipment more than 12 hours old, it is going to leave a musty scent that requires a cleaning.
  • If your kid’s carseat is encrusted in filth, with crumbs, stains, and spills, it’s time for a sanitization. Furthermore, if you take the carseat out and it reveals further filth under the chair, it should confirm any doubt you had.
  • If it takes you more than five seconds to clear something out of a seat to make room for a person to sit down, it’s time to clean.
  • If there is any odor in the car, whether or not you can find the source, you should consider an extensive purification.
  • If there is any non-shelf-stable food in the car, such as fruit or meat, you may want to clean the interior.
  • If a child had to be changed in the car and there is any trace of fecal matter, wipes, or diapers, it’s high time to scrub.
  • Any bodily fluids left by anyone in the car should require a scrub-down. That includes bleeding, vomiting, or even profuse sweating.
  • If pets frequent your car and there’s fur all the fuck over the place, a lint roller plus a deep clean are probably in order.
  • If you used your car as a place for a recent lovemaking session, you may wish to clean it out of respect for future passengers.
  • If you misplaced an item inside the car, such as an earring, money, or TV remote, it is worthwhile to clean out the car while you search.
  • If someone verbally comments that your car interior is filthy, you should take their hint and give the interior some TLC.
  • If you are embarrassed to have anyone other than your family as a passenger in your car, you should get it thoroughly cleaned.
  • If a robber breaks into your car and decides it’s not worth their time and effort, you may consider at least a vacuum.
  • If you are unable to put the seats up or down without taking time to clear things out of the way, that’s a dead giveaway.
  • If you try to clean your car and are unable to do so, you may opt for a detailing. An example may be an old fried egg that has solidified onto the the dashboard, or projectile vomit embedded in a vent that just won’t come clean.
  • If you clean your car and it still appears dirty, it’s time for a professional detailing.

It’s not tough to tell, really. If it’s dirty or smells bad, clean it. If it looks clean and people can easily take a seat, buckle in, and go for a ride, let it be!

Products to Make Your Car Less Disgusting

My Hot Take:
The situation above with Nick and his co-workers is something I experienced a few months back. I tried and failed to quickly put seats up due to too much kids stuff in the way. People lost patience and wound up cramming into a much smaller, equally dirty car. I used to be pretty good at keeping my car clean, but with a 3-year-old and dog to tow around, it’s very challenging.

Your car interior is probably dirty, so clean it.

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