How to Clean Vinyl Car Interior Without Damaging It

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to clean vinyl car interior

Vinyl is a popular material for vehicles’ interior for its stylishness, comfort, and durability. But if neglected, it can be stained, worn, and damaged. So, cleaning vinyl car interiors regularly is a must.

You’re probably here because you wondered, “How do I clean the inside of my car?”

Well, keep reading, as this article will demonstrate how to clean vinyl car interior. You will need a vinyl cleaning product and protectant.

Still, if the vinyl isn’t that dirty, some household products would also work.

How to Clean Your Vinyl Car Interior


Step 1: Get rid of dust, debris, dirt, and other particles


Before using a car vinyl cleaner, clean off dust, debris, dirt, and other particles first to avoid rubbing them in and scratching the vinyl.

  1. Wipe off the dust on the car dashboard, rear windshield shelf, and other dusty surfaces.
  2. Next, you need to vacuum-clean the upholstery. Go over surfaces lightly to prevent scratches. Avoid using a metal vacuum attachment, as it can cause scratches.
  3. Also, don’t forget to remove the floor mats and vacuum clean the carpets.

Step 2: Use a commercial interior car detailing product or homemade cleaner

1. For Vinyl Panels and Trims


  • An all-purpose cleaner – It is best to use when the vinyl surfaces are dirty. You can also use this for plastic car door panels and other plastic surfaces.
  • Mild soap/detergent
  • A soft-bristle brush
  • Toothbrush
  • A microfiber towel

Commercial Cleaner Method:

  1. Test your cleaning product on a hidden area before cleaning to avoid causing discoloration. Next, don’t spray an entire area all at once to focus on one area at a time and prevent product drying.
  2. Generally, the cleaning process for vinyl panels and trims involves spraying cleaner, scrubbing them with a soft detailing brush, and wiping away residues with a microfiber towel.
  3. Wipe the cleaner off with the towel as you finish cleaning a part.
  4. Use a small detailing brush on tight areas.

Here’s a tutorial video to follow: 

Homemade Cleaner Method:

Combine a mild soap or dishwashing detergent with water to clean vinyl panels and trims with a DIY cleaner. Scrub surfaces with this solution and wipe off residues.

2. For Vinyl Car Seats


Commercial Cleaner Method:

Next, we need the following tools for cleaning vinyl seats:

  • A commercial cleaner – Avoid harsh cleaners or cleaner ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide, acid-based cleaners, oil-based cleaners, petroleum-based cleaners, concentrated detergents, dry cleaning fluids, solvents, silicone oils, and waxes. These can destroy the vinyl.
  • A soft detailing brush for severe soils
  • Microfiber cloths

Notes: Bleach can also be damaging if not properly diluted or used cautiously. But in the worst case of very dirty, old vinyl seats, you can use a mixture of one part bleach and one part water.

  1. Test the cleaner you’re using for the first time (especially bleach mixture) in a hidden area first to avoid discoloration.
  2. Work on one area at a time to thoroughly clean and avoid product drying.
  3. Spray the cleaner on the brush and scrub the surface gently.
  4. Use a small detailing brush or toothbrush on the crevices.
  5. Wipe off residues with a damp cloth.
  6. Do a final wipe-down with a dry cloth.

Homemade Cleaner Method:

  1. Like cleaning car interior fabric, you can also use dish soap and water for cleaning vinyl upholstery as an alternative. For spot-cleaning stubborn stains, use a baking soda paste.
  2. Mix a bit of baking soda, a bit of dishwashing liquid, and a few drops of water to create the paste.
  3. Generously apply the paste on the stains, let it sit for a few minutes, and gently scrub the stains off.

For regular cleaning:

  1. Combine a bit of dish soap and water in a spray bottle. And use a small detailing brush or toothbrush on the crevices.
  2. Wipe off residues with a damp cloth.

3. Vinyl Floor Mats


  1. Shake off the loose contaminants.
  2. Then, create a cleaner of one part dish soap and one part water in a spray bottle.
  3. Working on one mat at a time, spray the cleaner, scrub it with a soft brush, and rinse it with warm water.
  4. Dry them thoroughly.

Step 3: use a vinyl protectant


Finish off with a special vinyl treatment of protectant for protection from contaminants and the harmful effects of the sun, such as fading, drying out, and cracking.

Massage it with a foam or microfiber applicator, and then buff it with a microfiber towel afterward.


The key to a well-maintained vinyl interior is regular cleaning, following the proper steps on how to clean vinyl car interior, and using the appropriate cleaning products. Taking good care of your car’s vinyl interior will preserve its stylish look, comfort, and durability and enjoy its advantages for longer.

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– Bruce Sonnier