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Interior Detailing

    Auto detailers and full-service car wash operators who combine proper cleaning techniques with cleaning equipment and products appropriate for the task can avoid many of the problems associated with interior detailing. Some of these problems include: 
bulletprolonged upholstery and carpet drying time
bulletfrozen or soggy seats
bulletmildew odors
bulletin general, unsatisfactory cleaning results.

    For most vehicle interiors, the following procedures will produce consistent, satisfactory cleaning. However, special problems or more intense cleaning may require additional attention. Here are the routing steps that should precede each interior detail:
bulletInspect the fabric. Identify the fabric to be cleaned. Most fabrics in vehicles are made of synthetic fibers such as nylon or olefin. Occasionally, leather or a natural fiber such as wool is used in some luxury vehicles. These require special care like a milder cleaning product.
bulletIdentify problems areas. Areas of wear, spots/stains, color loss or change should be identified immediately, and the customer should be told about such problems before the vehicle interior cleaning begins. Related problems, such as smoke odors, should also be noted.
bulletPre-vacuum. Pre-vacuum all fabric areas, especially car mats, prior to cleaning. Removal of loose, dry soil, sand and grit can make cleaning significantly easier.
bulletPre-spray. An effective pre-spray product can have superior oil and grease-dissolving abilities. Spills such as coffee and soda as well as body oils that may accumulate on head and arm rest areas will dissolve if the pre-spray is properly formulated. Many pre-sprays are diluted with water and lightly misted onto the affected areas prior to cleaning with a low-pressure sprayer. Often, a five- to 10-minute dwell time is necessary before cleaning should begin.

Use Minimum Moisture

Most customer complaints about interior detailing relate to fabric over-wetting. Over-wetting can cause customer inconvenience and, at its worst, result in fabric damage or mold/mildew growth.

A professional cleaning system that employs a low-moisture cleaning agent, soft brushes to gently loosen soil, and a vacuum to lift soil fro the fabric can clean an area effectively without over-wetting the fabric. Drying time for upholstery inside cars, trucks and vans can be less than one hour when such a procedure is followed.

Leather

Fortunately, most leather in vehicle interiors is "finished." That means it has a coating on it that makes the surface smooth and shiny. Finished leather can be cleaned with a mold, low-moisture detergent solution, gently applied to the fabric, followed by buffing with a soft cloth. Leather conditioner should be applied after cleaning to prevent the leather from becoming brittle and distorted.

Unfinished leather does not have a coating. It should not be cleaned with any amount of moisture since shrinkage, warping, distortion and water marking can result.

If the headliner or fabric on the roof interior is to be cleaned, test the fabric before cleaning. If the adhesive that secures the headliner has weakened, separation can occur during cleaning. Use limited moisture and gentle brushing to clean headliners.

Stomp Out Odor Problems

Smoke and odors related to spillage, vomit and urine should be treated with products formulated to attack and remove the source of these odors. Some of these products are applied during cleaning, while others may be applied to the fabric separately, using a low-pressure sprayer after cleaning.

Perfuming agents do not permanently eliminate the severe odors caused by smoke or bacteria growth. The fragrance left behind by deodorizers is only temporary.

While effective cleaning techniques usually remove most spots, stubborn spots may require the use of specialty spot removers formulated to attach specific substances. Some discoloration, incidentally, may be permanent stains that cannot be removed no matter what product is used.

Spot removal agents must be compatible with fabrics and dyes, and testing for colorfastness in an inconspicuous area is generally recommended. Pour spot removers onto a clean, white towel and blot onto the spot to avoid over wetting or spreading the stain.

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