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Keeping a Car Interior Clean in Winter

This car floor has a muddy mat.

If you live and drive in cold temperatures, then you already know that the winter months can wreak havoc on the outside components of your vehicle. Many people neglect to properly clean the likewise susceptible interior of their car. Yes, it’s a chore when it’s so cold out, but failing to do so can result in premature wear, persistent unwanted odors, dangerous driving conditions and even disease. Here are some easy tricks for keeping a car interior clean in winter.


When possible, park in covered areas. This keeps the vehicle slightly warmer and provides a better buffer to prevent the tracking of slush and grime. If you have access to a private garage, you can also leave your windows down to aid in drying out any moisture.

Floor Mats

Let’s start with the obvious. Invest in good rubber floor mats. The goal here is to keep the floor and carpeting clean and dry. Cheap plastic mats break easily and don’t provide proper coverage. Cheap rubber mats that lack raised sides and channels will allow water to get everywhere anyway. Go for good quality mats to begin with and thank yourself later.


If moisture does make its way in, you could have a mold problem on your hands. This can take considerable effort to remove, so really work to keep things dry in the first place. If it’s too late for that, you’ll need to go into mold removal mode.


Just as salt is bad for your suspension, it’s corrosive for interiors. Use a vacuum to pick up tracked-in salt and dirt from upholstery, seats and the dash, and don’t forget about the trunk. While you’re at it, pick up any trash that’s accumulated — the last thing you need is soggy garbage lying around.

Glass Care

You’ve probably spent some time this winter using your hand to remove fog from the inside of your windows. This leaves smudges that can make it difficult to see, especially at night with other people’s headlights beaming in. Warm up your car, then use glass cleaner to remove traces for safer driving. If you have a leak in your heater system (indicated by the sweet smell of coolant when your heater is on), beware of possible damage to your tint, and get that repaired ASAP.

Wipe DownHow to Keep You Car Interior Clean During the Winter

Lastly, don’t forget it’s cold and flu season. This is especially important if you have kids regularly riding along with you who may carry germs and may or may not be so good about washing their hands. Use sanitizing wipes on the dash and any surfaces that little hands are likely to touch, like door handles. Maybe keep a box of Kleenex on hand, in case you end up with a sneezer.

It doesn’t have to be every day, but taking the time to clean your car’s interior a few times a month really pays off for your health and maintaining the value of your vehicle. Make a habit of it, and encourage others to do things like stomping the snow off their shoes before getting in. You’ll have a smooth winter and clean car come spring.

Check out all the interior products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on keeping a car interior clean in winter, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.


Blair Lampe View All

Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter.  In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.

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