All kinds of dust, fumes, smoke and dirt builds up inside of a cars interior, much of it is brought in by the driver and passengers, but traffic fumes and air-borne dirt enters via the vehicles ventilation system. Every single interior surface is affected. Periodically it needs to be thoroughly cleaned to remove pollutants and preserve the original surfaces, ensuring the vehicles like-new condition. The surfaces involved in this cleaning are; glass, vinyl, leather, plastics, fabric, carpets and various acrylic surfaces.
To remove stains the surface tension that bonds them must be released, then the stain encapsulated and held in suspension to be removed. I’m repeatedly asked which product is the best interior cleaner. There is no one-product answer; as the so-called all purpose cleaners (APC) do not remove every stain, different stains require different solvents to remove them.
Before cleaning a stain ascertain the material and try detergent and water before using a specific cleaner. Once fabric is clean apply a fabric protection (303TM High Tech Fabric Guard) Between these cleaners you should be able to remove 99% of stains occurring in a vehicle and around the home; Start with a 10:1 solution and decrease dilution as necessary;
Stains: The first thing you should do upon discovering a stain is to act immediately. Don’t wait because heat and/or time will just cause the stain to set in deeper, which will make it much harder to remove. Before deciding upon treatment, you should first access what ‘type’ of stain it is, before a stain can be removed the surface tension that bonds it must be released, then the stain encapsulated and held in suspension to be removed.
Before using a cleaning product a detailer needs to know the material they are working on, what they are trying to remove and wither the product chosen is compatible with the material and will not damage it. Diagnosis is the key, not guess work. With all cleaning products, always test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it won’t discolour or stain the surface, and ensure that the pH of the product is suitable for the material. As can be seen stain removal requires some knowledge of basic chemistry. Read the product labels and manufacturers safety data sheets (MSDS) to obtain a basic idea of contents, pH levels etc.
Always select a chemical / cleaner that are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and safe to use by observing any precautions recommended so that they won’t harm you, your vehicle or the environment
- Carpets- 303™ Rug / Upholstery Cleaner & Spot Remover or Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover
P21S Total Auto Wash (its active ingredient is d-limonene (d-limoene based (citrus)) a safe all purpose cleaner (APC) Woolite® Heavy Traffic Carpet Foam or Hoover Deep Cleansing Carpet/Upholstery Detergent, Eimann Fabrik Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner, BLACKFIRE Interior Cleaner
- Fabric seats -303™ Rug / Upholstery Cleaner & Spot Remover or 303™ Aerospace Cleaner
Duragloss FC (Fabric & Carpet Cleaner, Aerosol Foam) is a blend of surfactants, which encapsulates and gently foams away soil, oil and grease from fabric and carpet surfaces. Spot cleaning can be done without leaving rings on fabric
- Vinyl interior trim cleaning- the interior trim consists of the dash, vents, hard plastic surfaces and vinyl trim. These surfaces all can be cleaned using a damp micro fibre towel and a 5:1 Woolite / distilled water solution and with a water-based, anti-static cleaner Iz einszett Cockpit Premium; even at high temperatures, its thermo-stable action protects the product against break-down or 1Z Cockpit Premium (inc UV protection) as a matte finish dressing. BLACKFIRE Advanced Technology Interior Cleaner will safely and effectively clean all of these surfaces, replacing a whole shelf full of cleaners. Einszett Vinyl-Rubber Care + Protectant ‘Tiefenpfleger’
- Plastic - For all plastic surfaces (BTI Chemicals Plexus® Plastic Polish & Cleaner) including wood, as they are protected with a urethane clear coat, BLACKFIRE One Step, Plastic Cleaner, Polish & Glaze
- Leather – a 6:1 solution of LM Soft Cleaner and distilled water and Leather Master Protection, as a shield against stains etc
- Washable surfaces - Distilled water / Woolite 10:1 or 303 Cleaner & Spot Remover ™
- Glass surfaces - Stoner’s Invisible Glass and a (Norwex) glass cleaning cloth with a super tight knit. Eimann Fabrik Clear Vision II Glass Cleaner with a MicroFiber cloth.
- Headliner - Duragloss 451 Fabric & Carpet Cleaner Aerosol Foam (FC) Is a blend of surfactants, which gently foam away soil, oil and grease from fabric and carpet surfaces. Spot cleaning can be done without leaving rings on fabrics, carpet and velour -
- Wood surfaces – Klasse or Zaino All-In-One (AIO)
- Ultra violet (UV) protection - for all interior surfaces- 303™ Aerospace Protectant or Optimum Protectant Plus
- Fabric_Upholstery / Carpet Protection – 303™ High Tech Fabric Guard, 3M Scotchgard™ Fabric protector Fluorochemicals (polymer latex) are mostly inert so by applying it to fabric it can be protected from stains and soiling.
- Leather Protection – Leather Master’s Protection, Blackfire High-UV Leather Conditioner
Using dry steam vapour –
A system that produces a high temperature, low moisture vapour that contains only 5% to 6% water and is much less dense than air, a steam vapour system is equipped to safely produce thousands of gallons of live dry steam using only about 1.5 quarts of water per hour. It is mess free with temperatures hot enough to kill bacteria and germs, emulsify grease and oil as well as other surface contaminants. These units are best suited for light cleaning (covered leather or fabric upholstery) maintenance, and spot removal. Apply a cleaner to a sponge, work up foam and apply to the surface, then pass the steamer just above the top of the area just cleaned and lightly agitate with a micro fibre towel, then wipe dry. Steam vapour helps to emulsify the grime, while the foam encapsulates it. Steam when it cools turns to condensate (water) which helps to re-hydrate leather upholstery
Steam Vapour advantages -
•Can access areas that a carpet extractor cannot
•Cleans between seats, consoles, dashes, cup holders, vents, door pockets, door jambs, seat tracks and more
•Will not leave moisture to soak materials as the steam vapour only contain 5-6% water moisture
•Steam-vapour dries very quickly (unlike a carpet extractor) and therefore will not cause mould or mildew to form.
•A steamer will clean hard (vinyl, wheel and glass) surfaces that an extractor cannot
•A steamer can be used to clean leather upholstery quickly and more efficiently than standard cleaning methods and without the use of harsh chemicals
Steam can scald the skin so wear cloves, and don’t use with synthetics materials as it could cause them to melt
Steam Heated Carpet Extractor:
An extraction system process is the choice of professional detailers due to its cost effectiveness, performance efficiency and time saving over conventional methods. Extractors work by using a cleaning solution dispensed from a tank that heats the solution to 200oF+ and is sprayed at medium pressure, high volume from the machine via a cleaning wand; it is then filtered and re-circulated. Extraction also allows the ability to remove cleaning residues due to its high suction power (100-inch water gauge +). Rinsed fabrics look and smell cleaner and resist soiling better.
Organic stain removal- quarter (1/4) cup Protein Stain Remover (topoftheline.com) / 1-cup 303™ Cleaner & Spot Remover / one gallon hot water let dwell for 5-10 minutes to enable cleaners to react
Other stain removal / normal cleaning- 10:1 distilled hot water/ P21S Total Auto Wash, let solution dwells for 5-10 minutes to enable cleaners to react
Note- Run a gallon of distilled white vinegar through the extractor either weekly, or after every ten fresh fills. Vinegar contains acetic acid, an organic carboxylic that will help eliminate scale, mild mineral deposits etc. from clogging your extractor.