Chemistry fundamentals for interior detailing
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Chemistry fundamentals for interior detailing

Learn some interior detailing tips and tricks for optimal results.


When it comes to interior detailing, a great way to deep clean carpets and mats is by using a hot water extractor. I recommend first vacuuming the carpets to remove loose dirt. Some technicians like to “dry scrub” the carpet first, which tends to loosen more dirt from the fibers.

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After vacuuming, prespray the carpets with a non-foaming carpet cleaner that is designed for use with a hot water extractor. Then scrub the carpeting by hand or with a brush-equipped polisher. This scrubbing step will go far to improving the effectiveness of the extractor.

The heated water of a high-quality extractor should be enough to rinse the soil and cleaning chemical from the carpet. I don’t recommend adding any cleaner to the solution tank of the extractor. If you rinse with chemical-laden hot water, the carpet is infused with that chemical. The remaining chemical in the carpeting tends to attract dirt, making the carpets resoil much faster.


Carpets cleaned with extractors will require additional drying before returning to the customer. High-volume air movers can be used inside the car. Also, after moving the vehicle outside, the vehicle’s climate control system may be used to dry the carpet, utilizing both the heat and air conditioning (to remove moisture).

Lightly soiled carpets and mats can be successfully cleaned using the same techniques, only substituting a dry vapor steam machine for the extractor. The steam machine will effectively clean the top of the carpet fibers, leaving them clean, sanitized and virtually dry.


Stubborn marks

The hard plastic and vinyl surfaces inside the car are generally easy to clean with an all-purpose cleaner, brushes and microfiber towels to wipe away loosened grime. However, some marks on these surfaces will not come off with even the most aggressive brush.

At this point, I recommend having isopropyl alcohol available. With careful use, it will effectively remove shoe scuffs and similar marks. A popular foam pad cleaner or melamine block is also great for surface marks that don’t come off with normal cleaning.

Interior detailing is a complex operation requiring multiple steps that involve several chemicals and numerous pieces of equipment. Specialized tools, equipment, chemicals and techniques can help to make the job easier.


Read more interior detailing tips here.

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