Deep-cleaning your interior is a prime winter project

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Kyle Smith

The winter months can be a time of great annoyance for us car lovers. We tuck our cars and trucks away to protect them from the weather and road salt, only to sit around for months twiddling our collective thumbs, wishing we were out on the roads. Still, winter can be embraced with a little preparation—and not simply the putting-your-vehicle-into-storage part. Getting your interior spick-and-span is a great project you can accomplish with your classic safely stowed in the garage away from the elements.

Even if you don’t have a heated storage space, the cleaning process is easy to tackle piecemeal. You can work in small bursts when it’s warm enough, or you can remove components and take them to more comfortable spot.

Case in point? Deep-cleaning your seats. It’s a task best done with the seats removed. Take a little time when putting the vehicle away for the winter to pull the seats and put them on a workbench—or your kitchen table, if you are willing to deal with displeased housemates—and get to work.

You’ll probably be surprised at the amount of grime that can hide in what appears to be a clean seat. The YouTube DIY channel ChrisFix recently dove into how to super-clean even the most grungy interior.

The first tip is to use the most powerful vacuum you’ve got—or the most robust unit you can borrow or rent. Start with a toothbrush or suede brush to break loose grit and debris that can then be lifted away by the vacuum. ChrisFix goes straight to hosing down the seat with an aerosol fabric cleaner, but, especially with vintage vehicles and older upholstery, be sure to check for colorfastness first. Make sure that the product you’ve chosen won’t damage your seat material by applying a small amount in an inconspicuous place.

We’ll add a similar word of caution regarding ChrisFix‘s use of an extraction vacuum. This tool requires wetting the fabric of the seats, and that moisture can also seep into the foam. For very old or brittle seats, this can be a bad idea. Even without UV exposure, foam will break down over time; wetting it may cause more harm than good. The extraction-vacuum method may be great for modern fabrics and foams, but use with caution on aging materials.

Incremental touch-ups are always easier than a deep-clean, but if you’ve got a spotless record of routine maintenance, your seats may need some focused attention. With just a little elbow grease, you can start the driving season off with a truly enviable interior.

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