3 Tips on Cleaning a Classic Car’s Interior to Boost Your Auto Detailing Career

auto detailing career

For many car collectors, the interior of a car is important to capturing its original charm, but expensive restorations aren’t always the right answer. When it comes to reviving a classic car to its former glory, a little extra care and cleaning can go a long way.

Many vintage cars feature four types of materials in their interior: vinyl, leather, synthetic fabric, and polyurethane foam. Each of these materials requires special attention and treatment, and many auto detailers have to strike a fine balance between making a classic car clean while still retaining its unique sense of character.

Read on for tips on keeping classic rides clean without sacrificing their authenticity.

1. Take Care of Leather and Vinyl During Your Auto Detailing Career

Caring for leather and vinyl in a classic car is relatively straightforward. Vinyl fabric collects dust over time, but instead of totally restoring the fabric, an inexpensive microfiber cloth and mild cleaner can be used to remove debris buildup.

Genuine leather must be conditioned every six months to keep it moisturized and firm. Only a small amount of conditioner needs to be applied after it is cleaned, and it must dry for at least two hours in order to set properly. General maintenance for both vinyl and leather is as simple as wiping the seats down with a dry cloth to remove dust and dirt.

2. Be Mindful of Chemicals When Cleaning Fabric

An auto detailing career involves knowing the differences between each cleaner you use. There are three main ways to clean the fabric in a car: volatile cleaners, synthetic detergent, and neutral, non-alkaline soaps.

Volatile cleaners are solvent-based, and are the most effective way to properly clean the interior fabrics of a car because they don’t require much elbow grease to lift dirt and stains. Always apply volatile cleaners in a well-ventilated area due to their chemical vapour.

A synthetic detergent should be mixed in lukewarm water to produce thick, frothy suds. Be careful not to use too much water or press too hard into the fabric, as soaking the polyurethane foam or material underneath can be difficult to dry out.

A non-alkaline soap is anything that contains a pH balance of 7 or less. Traditional soaps have a higher pH level, and contain alkaline properties, which can damage a car’s interior and exterior materials, especially if the model is older or considered to be vintage. Just as you wouldn’t use soap with an acidic pH on your face, it isn’t safe to clean your car with either.

3. Steering Wheel and Dashboard Care Is Important

An important aspect to keep in mind throughout the cleaning process is that older car models were not made with the same materials as more contemporary vehicles, and because of this the original components of a classic car can actually be further degraded, stained, or discoloured by abrasive cleaners that you may typically use in your auto detailing course.

Many vintage cars have prominent metal dashboard components
Many vintage cars have prominent metal dashboard components

Depending on its age, the dashboard of a classic car might feature more metal than plastic. Metal is naturally corrosive, and this means there may be rust, dirt, and wear from oils on the steering wheel. A polish can be used to brighten up exposed metals like chrome and aluminum, and painted elements can be wiped down with a mild cleaner.

Are you interested in polishing your skills with an auto detailing course in Toronto?

Learn more at your local Automotive Training Centre!

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