Bob Schoenherr    Wash and Shine your Beloved Porsche,
Part 3 Interiors
 by Bob Schoenherr, Redwood Region Membership Director and Zone 7   Concours Champion

Cleaning the Living Room of your Car

Why is it important to keep your car's interior clean? To keep momma happy! To keep up your Porsche image! Really, here is why....

A dirty cabin not only looks and smells bad, it can also create or contribute to operational problems. Dirty air vents can spread dust and other allergens about the cabin. Filmy windows and mirrors can obscure the driver's view of the road. Grit and grime can work their way inside buttons and switches and cause them to fail.


Start with a good vacuum. Get a vacuum with an extension hose and several attachments. Work from the top down, so that particles that are dislodged and fall during cleaning can be picked up later when you vacuum the seats and carpet. Use the vacuum's upholstery nozzle on the headliner, seats, and other upholstered areas, such as the rear parcel shelf. Remove the floor mats and vacuum and clean them separately. Use the crevice tool to get into visors, seat pockets, and other tight areas where other attachments will not fit. Use the dusting brush to vacuum plastic, hard vinyl, and metal parts such as vanity mirrors and dashboard components-hard vacuum nozzles can possibly scratch or nick these parts. If you have access to an air compressor, you can use it to blow out dirt from hard-to-reach areas on the dashboard. Be sure your air compressor has a water collector; otherwise, don't use it on the interior parts. Use the floor brush when vacuuming the carpet. Move the seats forward or backward to reach areas under the seat. Take out removable seats to access hard-to-reach areas.


Any auto parts store will have a variety of cleaners for different types of surfaces, including carpet, upholstery, leather, and plastic. However, there is no need to buy specialty cleaners just for cars. I have found the best interior cleaner for all uses is Simple Green: 1 part Simple Green mixed with one part water. This will clean anything, but not damage it. 


Use a general spray-on carpet cleaner. Work the compound into the carpet with a stiff, non-shedding bristle brush. Avoid getting the carpet and upholstery too wet, as you risk acquiring mildew or damaging nearby electronic equipment. If you have a problem stain such as makeup, oil, gum, tree sap, or tar, you should use Simple Green to remove it. Sometimes it may take more than one pass to get the stain out, so be patient and go over it again and again if needed.

Cloth upholstery

Using a steam cleaner is best, but most of us don't have that tool. I use a spray-on upholstery cleaner, work it in with a soft brush, and let it dry, according to directions. Do not forget to clean the rear parcel shelf, safety belts, and seat joints too.

Leather trim

Use leather cleaner, saddle soap, or another mild leather soap on a damp cloth and rub it softly onto all leather areas. Remove the excess soap with a clean, slightly damp cloth. Use cotton swabs to remove excess soap from the seams. DO NOT overuse leather cleaners at one time. They can take the dye out of old leather.


DO NOT USE WINDEX! Use a non-ammonia or alcohol glass cleaner to wash the inside of windows. Spray the cleaner directly on the cloth to avoid streaking and getting the cleaner on the upholstery. Mom's vinegar and paper works good here. Once the glass is clean, your detail spray works pretty good to get rid of streaks.

Final touches


After cleaning, leather can be treated with a conditioner formulated specifically for it. This is particularly valuable for dried-out leather. If you would like to apply a product to your car's vinyl or plastic, use a non-greasy product. Be careful about ingredients: many commercial conditioners contain silicone oils that can stain cloth or plastics.


A second vacuuming removes dirt dislodged during the cleaning process.

Now you can enjoy a fresh cool looking car! Your traveling living room is now healthy, clean, and will last for many a Porsche Club event to come!