How to Clean Car Interior Plastic? – 5-Step Cleaning Process

how to clean car interior plastic

The interior plastic of a car is prone to dust, dirt, debris, and stains. And these contaminants are especially noticeable on dark-colored surfaces, so you’ll need to clean black plastic every few months.

How to clean car interior plastic to keep it in good condition and avoid costly repairs? You’ll be glad to know the task doesn’t consume too much time and isn’t so hard to do.


What Can I Use to Clean the Interior Plastic of My Car?

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Vacuum attachments: Brush attachment and Crevice tool
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush, soft paintbrush, or Q-tips
  • Cleaner for car interior plastic:
    • Option 1 – DIY cleaner: vinegar, water, and spray bottle
    • Option 2 – commercial interior detailer
  • Interior plastic protectant
  • Applicator pad or cloth
  • Polish (commercial product or olive oil)

Detailed Steps


Step 1: Vacuum Clean the Car Interior

You should vacuum before you wipe and spot clean plastic interior of car. This will prevent particles from scratching surfaces and allow your cleaner to work more efficiently.

  • Connect the brush attachment to the vacuum’s hose to prevent causing scratches while vacuuming.
  • Use the crevice tool to get into the crevices and tight spaces of the car interior.
  • Go over knobs and vents with caution to prevent damaging them.
  • Vacuum the ceiling, upholstery, floor, etc so that the contaminants on them won’t transfer to the plastic surfaces, and you get an overall clean interior.

Step 2: Clean off Stubborn Dust and Dirt


Dust and dirt tend to cling onto the interior plastic, so there can be some left over after vacuuming. You’ll need to make an additional effort to wipe them off.

  • Dampen a microfiber cloth with water, but don’t make it too wet to prevent damaging the electronics. Then, wipe off the stubborn contaminants.
  • Dust off the crevices and tight spaces like air vents, switchgear, hand brake, etc. using a soft paintbrush or Q-tips.
  • Absorb any leftover moisture with a microfiber cloth.

Step 3: Spot Clean Stained Areas on the Interior Plastic


Most likely, you’ll also have to remove stains from plastic dashboard and other plastic surfaces, as they tend to be prone to soils.

  • A cheap way to clean car interior plastic trim and dashboard is by using a homemade solution made of equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. This combination can also be used to clean car interior vinyl.
  • But the best way to go would be to use a commercial plastic cleaner car care product, particularly an interior detailer. It can make car interior plastic look new, plus gives anti-static and dust-repelling effects.
  • Some products release vapors that should not be inhaled. So, read their descriptions carefully and wear a mask if necessary.
  • Be careful not to overspray and damage the electronics with excessive moisture. To prevent such a thing from happening, apply the solution onto a microfiber cloth and wipe the cloth onto affected areas until the stains are gone.
  • To spot clean textured plastic, use a soft detail brush or toothbrush to give the grooves a good scrub.
  • Once a spot is finally stain-free, take another microfiber cloth and wipe it dry.

Step 4: Apply Plastic Protectant


It’s necessary to apply a protectant after cleaning the interior plastic to protect it from dust or fading and cracking over time.

  • See the product’s instructions on how to apply it.
  • Like the cleaner, you shouldn’t spray it directly onto plastic surfaces.

Step 5: Polish the Interior Plastic


An additional step to do if you want a like-new look for your vehicle is to polish car interior plastic.

  • If you have olive oil in your pantry, you can use it for polishing plastic surfaces.
  • Another option that can make maintenance a bit easier and allow you to save money is to buy a protectant that also serves as a polish.
  • Apply your chosen product using a clean cloth and buff the surface.



How Do You Clean Mud off Car Interior Plastic?

  • Let the mud dry first. Once it’s dry, scrub it off with a soft-bristled brush.
  • But if scrubbing doesn’t seem to work, apply an interior detailer.

Tips to Restore Plastic Car Interior

Basically, you can just follow all of the steps above, including cleaning the interior, applying a protectant, and polishing the plastic.

While picking a plastic restorer, check the formula for UV inhibitors and avoid silicone-based products as well.

What Is the Best Thing to Clean a Car Dashboard?

When it comes to a commercial cleaner you’d use to clean car dashboard plastic, there are a couple of characteristics to look for. The best product isn’t only effective but also has these other attributes:

  • Simple application (wipe and dry).
  • No overwhelming odor.
  • Can clean plastic, rubber, vinyl, and other materials.
  • Doesn’t contain silicones, Teflons, fluoropolymers, and n-Propoxy propanol.

But when it comes to a DIY interior auto cleaner, the best is a combination of one tablespoon of white vinegar, one cup of warm water, one teaspoon of dishwashing soap, and one to two teaspoons of baby oil all mixed in a spray bottle. This is an easy-to-use disinfecting, degreasing, and shine-enhancing solution.

Can You Clean the Interior of the Car With Household Products?

You can save money on cleaners by using household products. White vinegar, for example, is excellent in tackling dirt, grime, grease, and even bacteria.

Dishwashing soap, too, works on the car interior just as well as does on dishes. There are many other household items you can try, but the aforementioned suit cleaning car interior plastic especially well.

To create a plastic cleaner with them, combine equal parts white vinegar and water and a bit of dishwashing soap.

For polishing, some things you might have that you can use are olive oil or cooked linseed oil.


Don’t delay cleaning and caring for plastic surfaces in your car until they start to get too dirty, fade, and crack. Do the aforementioned steps on how to clean car interior plastic promptly to avoid costly problems. You’ll get to enjoy much more comfortable drives in a spotless vehicle.

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