One dirty weekender I’d rather forget!
That being said, I haven’t done a dedicated interior cleaning video for the best part of a year now and thought this filthy Focus might just make for an interesting upload, so swallowed my pride and set my weekend aside to try and transform this miserable bus back to its not so former glory!
I hadn’t seen the state of it before cracking the camera out but once I stuck my head in it was pretty much as I’d expected – a completely neglected and abused pigsty.
The economy floor mat-less carpets were deeply ingrained with four seasons worth of foot filth, every one of the grotesque looking grey seats were stained to high heaven and the light coloured poverty-spec plastics were smudged and soiled with god knows what but to be fair it was all being kept on top of with a dangly Spiderman air freshener so credit where credit’s due.
Joking aside though I was definitely in for the long haul with this one but thankfully did have the relative ‘luxury’ of two days to get it done so could at least pace myself instead of rushing around like a blue-arsed fly as I usually do!
First things first then was to gather up all the loose litter and dump it into a plastic bag-lined bucket to prevent George’s nose from continually clogging up during the vacuuming.
I then pulled the seats forward as I generally prefer to work back to front when tending to interiors and while I wasn’t planning to attack to the boot (because unsurprisingly it was full of junk) I did drop the rear seat backs to at least give them a decent vacuum off.
I then begrudgingly lifted the rear seats to access the unseen carpets underneath and while I could have got away with not bothering I thought I might as well as this is the reality of these cars – a never ending mass of cheap quality, supposedly space-utilising enclosures and cubby holes that all technically need tending to.
Once the backs of the seats and the hidden carpeting that no one would notice were satisfactorily vacuumed off then I moved onto the rest of the cabin, starting with the deeply ingrained flooring which I knew would take a hell of a lot of crevice tool action to bring about a noticeable improvement.
I’ll generally try and get the bulk of downtrodden carpet vacuuming out of the way while I’m still feeling relatively fresh as it’s what takes me the most time so wouldn’t want to get going on it after exhausting myself on other parts.
Once the majority of loose debris has been removed from a given area you can then run a stiff bristled brush over to help release some of the ingrained dirt and while this does work well, the downside is that it’ll wear the cheap material quite quickly and you’ll be left with matted black carpet fibres in your brush.
I usually couple this with wet cleaning but knew these deeply ingrained, discoloured worn plasticky carpets wouldn’t really benefit from being soaked in upholstery cleaner so stuck to a thorough vacuum with the odd bit of dry brushing thrown in for good measure instead.
Once I felt the low-cost carpets were as good as they could realistically get then, I moved onto giving the seats a quick vac to prepare them for a subsequent deep clean but thankfully (in comparison to the carpets at least), they weren’t nearly as bad so really didn’t go into too much depth at this stage.
I then switched the crevice tool for a dusting brush attachment to access all areas of the plastics, trim and hard details that hadn’t yet seen any action.
A few different soft bristled brushes were also used to coax the dirt out from various nooks, crannies and details and as tedious as it can be especially after spending so much time vacuuming the carpets, it’s important to do because if you go straight to cleaning or dressing them you’ll essentially just be rubbing loose dirt and dust around on the surface so, much like when cleaning the exterior of a car, you’ll get a better quality job done if you remove as much of the loose stuff as possible first.
After everywhere had been vacuumed to within an inch of its life then, it was time to give the stained seats a damn good decontamination with an all purpose cleaner which was first liberally sprayed over the fabric roughly a section at a time before being left to soak for a moment.
It was then agitated with a stiff bristled nail brush to help break up the dirt and release it from the fibres of the fabric before being wiped over with a damp general purpose microfibre towel which serves to both absorb some of the excess product prior to extraction and spread it more evenly across the surface, reducing the likelihood of further water marks being instilled.
Now I was using my Numatic George here but without the dedicated wet vac extraction hose and filter and while technically these should be used for a task like this, the vast majority of the time I’m tending to seats and upholstery I do it in unison with the vacuuming so just use the crevice tool and standard vac to extract what remains which to be honest still works well.
The dry dust and dirt contained within the vac’s innards will absorb most of the moisture being sucked up and in the years of doing this I’ve only had to replace one motor due to moisture ingress but if you don’t want to risk your machine then it’s either a dedicated wet vac extraction only or dry off the surface as much as possible with some absorbent towels first.
The same process was then repeated for all areas of the grotty seats and while there’s other ways to tend to dirty upholstery, with fabric in this state I prefer to just go in heavy handed. If you’ve neglected your car so much so that the seats are heavily stained then you’ll just have to deal with the fact they’ll be a bit wet afterwards and risk a damp backside I’m afraid!
After I’d worked my way around the stained seats and was happy they’d had a good enough going over to ensure the unsightly marks wouldn’t come back to haunt me then, I left it there for day one which had equated to roughly 6 hours of pretty much non-stop cleaning and although it was light for another hour or so it was only getting progressively cold and damp from here on in so retired for a well deserved candlelit bubble bath.
Day two was all about the plastics, trim and glass and I got to work treating the more heavily soiled areas of it with the same all purpose cleaner and stiff bristled nail brush used on the seats the previous day to release the stubborn muck from the grain before mopping up the residue with a fresh microfibre towel.
Ideally every part of the trim should have been cleaned with the APC but with a final once over still to perform as well as catching some after shots before it got dark or started raining, I decided to just spot clean the worse parts and take a gamble with a with a water based cleaner-dressing for the rest of it which when used right can still lift light dirt while simultaneously sprucing the surface.
The key for me when taking this approach is to not be shy and spray the product liberally and directly over the entire surface before leaving it to soak into the grain for a minute or so which despite being messy, will help soften up any superficial dirt. It’s then thoroughly worked into and over the surface with a clean microfibre towel quite aggressively to remove any remaining dirt and spread the product evenly in order to achieve a nice fresh finish.
This heavy handed cleaner-dressing approach was used on all parts of the interior trim which included being worked into various nooks and crannies with a detailing brush prior to being wiped over and to be honest despite looking pretty manky to begin with, considering they weren’t given a dedicated deep clean first actually came up surprisingly well, you just need ensure that the towel you’re using is rinsed and wrung out a few times during the process.
Once all plastic surfaces, nooks, crannies, dials, trims and vents had been finished with the finish then, it was time to tend to the glass to remove the original dirt as well as all the overspray I’d cack-handedly inflicted earlier. I used a basic bulk glass cleaner from Autosmart for this, as well as a few lint free glass cleaning cloths to both work it over the surface and buff it off.
Now it’s awkward enough cleaning interior glass as it is but trying to properly film it on a damp misty day without getting your mug in the way makes it even more so but hopefully from the shots I got you get the general gist that the windows were treated to a realistic clean with a couple of towels, bulk glass cleaner and of course my sweet smelling breath until I felt they were of an acceptable standard of clean.
With a relatively in-depth clean spread across a number of hours or even days like this then, it’s important to retrace your steps and give everything a final once over to catch any areas you may have missed and remove any freshly dislodged dirt that will have inevitably made an appearance.
It’s probably the last thing you’ll want to do after hours of thankless cleaning but in my experience it makes the difference and helps freshen things up before before handing the car back to the customer or in my case the snotty-nosed nephew who’d inevitably troll me by immediately wiping his bogies on the freshly cleaned glass.
The last thing to do before breathing a final big sigh of relief then was blast away any residual bad smells with a fogging air freshener from Autosmart which as you can see, are great fun to play with!
So obviously this was more of a good old scrub than a proper detail however a hell of a lot of time, effort and energy still went into it. The crappy black carpets were the biggest bane of the job and while they were far from how I’d like them to look, still appeared a damn sight better for their hours worth of crevice tool treatment. Yes a set of mats would obviously help from here on in but I won’t hold my breath.
The generic seats, while still looking pretty uninspiring were at least now free from all of the unsightly staining that contaminated them earlier and the horrible poverty-spec plastics appeared streak and smudge free and even boasted a somewhat healthy glow as well as some slight protection from future abuse.
Although it might sometimes seem like it, it’s not always about making the exteriors of cars nice and clean so I’m hoping this one will give the interior junkies out there a damn good fix!