The lack of regular and proper interior cleaning is one of the main reasons why a Tesla vehicle depreciates faster and, as a result, fetches a lower resale value. Although cleaning should be done both inside and outside, in this article, we are going to focus on how to clean the Tesla interior.
Different parts of your Tesla interior require different cleaning materials and different cleaning processes, so we divided this article into different sections of the interior to make sure you are not missing any part.
Let’s start with the tools and materials.
Tools and Materials Needed for the Job
- Car Vacuum
- Steam Cleaner
- Sonax Dashboard Cleaner
- Screen Cleaner Cloth
- Detailer All Purpose Cleaner
- Microfiber Drying Towel
- Armor All Protectant
- Armor All Leather Wipes
- Microfiber Cleaning Towels/Clothes
- Detailing Brush Kit
- Nitrile Disposable Gloves
- Spray Cleaner
- Scotch-Brite Pads
- Magic Eraser
- Liquid Detergent
- Cleaner and Degreaser
- Garden Hose with Nozzle or Pressure Washer
- Non-Greasy Rubber Shine
- Scrub Brush
- Carpet Brush
- Car Wash Sponge
- Carpet Shampoo
- Foaming Carwash Soap
- Foam Gun
- Tire Wet Spray
- Carpet Stain and Spot Lifter
- Bath Towels
- Glass Cleaner
- Microfiber Towel and Pad Cleaner
- Used Toothbrush
How to Clean the Dashboard
- Vacuum the vents, buttons, and switches. The vents hold dust, so brush the vents with the vacuum nearby to suck the dust. Make sure to brush each of the fins in the vents. Do the same on the buttons and switches. Make sure to use a soft brush on the buttons and switches and not the toothbrush.
- Spray water into a microfiber towel until it is damp. Wipe the dashboard with the damp towel. Do not spray the water directly into the dashboard as the mist might be out of control and can sip through the electronic parts inside. Glide the damp towel all over the dashboard, including the gauge vessel, until all the dust is wiped out.
- Spray the Sonax cleaner directly to your brush (image below). Do not spray the cleaner directly into the dashboard. Once the brush has enough cleaner, start rubbing the brush on the dashboard and all portions that need to be cleaned (except the gauge vessel). Repeat the process until all portions are cleaned. Remember to pay attention to the smallest details on the buttons and switches. But do not use too much cleaner on these portions.
- Spray a small amount of cleaner on the paper towel and use it to wipe the gauge vessel. We don’t want to scratch the gauge vessel, so we don’t use the brush in this area.
- Once done, immediately wipe the surface with a clean and absorbent microfiber towel.
- Spray Armor All on a clean towel and glide the towel through the dashboard surface. Repeat the process until all parts are covered. This will add a layer of surface protection.
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How to Clean the Center Console
- Remove all contents of the center console and use a toothbrush to remove some dirt, with the vacuum nearby.
- Spray all-purpose cleaner directly to the center console.
- Using a Scotch-Brite, rub the surface carefully. Make sure to apply minimum force as the Scotch-Brite can damage the surface. Apply just enough force to remove the dirt.
- Use the magic eraser to clean the surface not reached by the Scotch-Brite.
- Use the steam cleaner to deep clean the surface and make sure nothing is left behind. Make sure not to point the steam cleaner in one area for a long time or in the portion where USB and power outlets are located.
- Wipe the center console with a clean microfiber towel and make sure all little details are cleaned.
How to Clean the Interior Door
- Remove all contents of the door pockets.
- Vacuum the door pockets to remove dirt inside.
- Cover the controls with the towel.
- Spray the all-purpose cleaner directly to the door panel.
- Use a bigger detailing brush to clean the surface, including the inside pockets. Repeat the process until the surface is clean.
- Spray a small amount of all-purpose cleaner to a smaller and softer brush and clean the controls and switches.
- Wipe the surface with a clean microfiber towel.
- Spray Armor All on a clean towel and wipe the surface for additional protection.
How to Clean the Touch Screen
The Tesla touch screen is a very sensitive part of the car, so cleaning should be done with extra care
- Enable the Screen Clean Mode by tapping Controls > Display > Screen Clean Mode. The display then darkens to make it easy to see dust and smudges.
- Wipe the screen using a screen cleaning cloth. Make sure to use only clothes designed for electronics and monitors. Do not use the microfiber towel for all-purpose cleaning.
- Do not use any cleaning solution, alcohol, or water.
- Once foreign materials are wiped out, press and hold on to the screen to exit the Screen Clean Mode.
How to Clean the Floor (Carpet and Floor Mats)
The car’s floor is the storage of all types of dirt and dust, and the carpet is one of the most difficult parts of the car to clean.
A) Cleaning of Rubber/Plastic Floor Mats
- Remove the floor mats from the car and put them on the open concrete outside your house or your garage.
- Rinse them with water using your garden hose or pressure washer to remove thick dust or mud. This should be done on both sides.
- Dilute the cleaner and degreaser with water (see ratio on the product label) and spray the diluted mixture on the floor mats.
- Brush the floor mats using the scrub brush until all dirt is removed.
- Wash with water.
- Spray the floor mats with liquid detergent and brush them again.
- Wash them with clean water and wipe them with a clean cloth to dry.
- Spray them with a non-greasy rubber shine and wipe to dry.
B) Cleaning of the Carpet
- Remove all floor mats and everything on the floor that can be removed by hand. These include garbage, tools, and everything that should not be on the floor.
- Use the vacuum to pick up all dust and small debris.
- Check the carpet for grease and stains. Spray these specific spots with a stain and grease lifter and wait for about 15 to 20 seconds.
- Brush the sprayed areas using the carpet brush.
- Repeat the process until all dirty portions are done.
- Scrub the brushed areas with a bath towel to remove the lifted stain and grease. Redo the process until all lifted stains and dirt are gone.
- For areas with severe discoloration, apply carpet shampoo with water and use the carpet brush similar to the previous process.
- Use the bath towel to wipe the dirt.
- Use the vacuum to extract all excess cleaning materials
- Let the carpet dry.
You can watch this video for the actual carpet cleaning process:
How to Clean the Seats
The standard Tesla Model 3 has cloth seats, while the $2,000 more expensive premium interior Model 3 and other models have synthetic leather seats (also known as vegan leather).
A) Cleaning Cloth Seats
Note: Cloth seat covers can be removed and washed separately. This procedure is for cloth seats and not for seat covers.
- Use the vacuum cleaner to suck up dust.
- Spay hot water on spots with stains and dirt. If the discolored area is big, spray hot water on the entire affected area.
- Wait for 10 to 15 seconds and use the vacuum to suck up the hot water. Make sure to press down the vacuum nozzle to remove the water.
- Mix a small amount of liquid detergent and repeat the process. Spray the mixture over the stain and suck it up with the vacuum cleaner.
- If the stain is still present, repeat the process until it is gone. The force used to press the vacuum nozzle has a big impact, so make sure to force down the vacuum nozzle to the seat cushion.
- Depending on the type and the severity of the stain, the process can be repeated four to six times until the stain is removed. You won’t achieve this if you use non-hot water.
You may also check our detailed guide on how to clean Tesla seats.
B) Cleaning Synthetic Leather or Vegan Leather Seats
- Use a vacuum cleaner to suck all dust and dirt inserted into the seams.
- Spray the diluted all-purpose cleaner into spots that need to be cleaned.
- Use a soft brush to remove the stain.
- Wipe the area with a microfiber cloth.
- If the stain is still present, repeat the process until it is gone.
- Apply Armor All leather wipes to protect the surface.
For other leather cleaning products, see our separate article on Model 3 interior cleaners.
How to Clean the Steering Wheel
- Wipe the steering wheel with a damp microfiber cloth.
- Pick a soft brush and spray all-purpose cleaner directly on it.
- Carefully brush the areas of steering wheels where cleaning is needed. Be careful with the buttons and give attention to the smallest details like gaps, grooves, etc.
- Make sure the cleaner does not overflow.
- Wipe the steering wheel with a clean microfiber cloth.
- Apply Armor All leather wipes to protect the surface
How to Clean the Headliner
- Wipe the headliner with a damp microfiber towel.
- Spray all-purpose cleaner into the brush.
- Rub the headliner liner using the all-purpose cleaner damp brush until the dirt is removed.
- If the stain is hard to remove, put a little liquid detergent on a Scotch-Brite and rub it against the stain with care.
- Repeat the process in all areas where discoloration and stains occur.
- Wipe the surface with a clean microfiber cloth.
- Apply Armor All Protectant.
How to Clean the Inside of Windshields and Windows
I recommend doing this after a car wash so your effort will not be wasted. It makes no sense to clean the glass interior when the outside is dirty.
- Wipe off the glass (in a circle motion) using a dry and clean microfiber towel. Focus on the spotted dirt and stains.
- Dip the magic eraser into the warm water and squeeze it to remove most of the water. Wipe the glass with the damp magic eraser in a circular motion.
- Spray the glass cleaner directly into a clean microfiber towel. Wipe the glass with the said towel until the whole area is covered. Do not spray directly into the glass.
- If you are not satisfied with the result, you can do the same process on the other side of the glass (exterior).
- Repeat the process in all windows and the rear windshield.
See how it’s done in the following video:
How to Clean the Frunk and Trunk
The following procedure is applicable in cleaning the frunk and trunk. I understand that these compartments are not part of the interior, but having a good-smelling interior will not last if something is rotting inside your trunk or frunk, so I advise you to include these compartments when you are cleaning your Tesla interior.
- Remove all objects (tools, trash, cargo bay mat, cargo box, trunk/frunk coolers, etc.) in the frunk and trunk.
- Vacuum the whole compartment.
- Spray the surface with a mixture of water and liquid detergent.
- Brush the dirty surface using the scrub brush. Use a toothbrush in some areas where a scrub brush is not effective.
- Wipe the surface with a microfiber towel.
- Repeat the process in some areas that are not fully cleaned.
Doing all the above steps may take you some time the first time, but you’ll get the hang of it and eventually do it faster next time.
Note: As you may have noticed, we used a lot of microfiber towels, and you may be wondering if we will throw them away after use. The answer is no. Just wash them with a microfiber towel and pad cleaner and you can use them again.
Tips to Keep Your Tesla Interior Clean
Cleaning alone is not always the answer to keeping your Tesla interior clean. The following tips will help you cut a lot of cleaning time:
- Avoid bringing drinks in cups inside your car to avoid spillage.
- Always keep your pets in the back seat.
- Organize the things you put inside the glove compartment, center console, back seat, and even the frunk and trunk.
- Have a small trash can inside your car to avoid littering.
- Avoid smoking inside your Tesla car. Nicotine is the main reason why headboards turn yellow to dark.
- Always keep a microfiber towel and small brush inside your car so you can use them during heavy traffic. Seconds of cleaning that is frequently done can save you hours of future cleaning.
- Don’t drink and drive and avoid inviting your drunk friends inside your car.
How to Detail Your Tesla Exterior
The above steps are enough for thoroughly cleaning your Tesla’s interior. To complete its makeover, you need to detail its exterior as well.
Credit to Tesla Photographer on YouTube
If you haven’t thoroughly washed your car for a while and want it to look its best, here’s how to do detail your Tesla the right way:
- Set your car in “Cash Wash Mode” and leave the side mirrors unfolded.
- Set the pressure of your pressure washer between 85 and 90 PSI. More than 90 could damage the paint. Set the machine to 40 degrees. If your car is really dirty, especially on the underside, set the washer to 20 degrees.
- Start spraying the car with water and focus on dirty areas. Start on the roof going down. Don’t point the nozzle too long in one particular area unless there is sticky mud or you will damage the paint.
- If your Tesla has wheel covers, remove them before spraying the wheels.
- You might spend more time on the underside where mud sticks.
- Mix car wash shampoo and water in a bucket.
- Fill your foam gun with the mixture and attach it to the washer.
- Start soaking the car with foam.
- Soak the car wash sponge in a bucket with the soap mixture and start cleaning the car by rubbing the sponge. Make sure there is no solid debris like sand or metal particles on the sponge.
- Use the hard brush to clean the tires.
- Rinse the car with clean water using the pressure washer.
- Check if there are areas that are not properly cleaned.
- Once everything is cleaned, wipe your car with a microfiber drying towel.
- Spray the tires with tire wet spray.
- Check everything and reattach the wheel cover and you are done!
Lack of proper cleaning and maintenance can cause your car to depreciate faster, so if you are planning to sell your Tesla in the future, better keep it clean.
Cleaning your Tesla interior is not really a complicated process if done carefully and regularly.
Don’t wait for your white headboard to turn dark before cleaning it! A regular cleaning schedule would save you a lot of time and cleaning materials.
Zac LudicrousMechanical engineer by profession. TSLA shareholder before the hype. EV enthusiast all day long. Zac enjoys learning about the future of battery technology, autonomy, and EVs. He considers Tesla Model 3 the most important vehicle of the 21st century -- and is in a quest to improve the ownership experience of every Model 3 owner he possibly can.
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