How To Clean A Tesla’s Interior: A Step-By-Step Guide


How To Clean A Tesla’s Interior: A Step-By-Step Guide

If you need to clean your Tesla’s interior, you may not be sure of where to begin. I have pulled together a step-by-step guide to cleaning a Tesla’s interior. You will want to clean your Tesla in an ordered fashion to limit the amount of time the task takes.

How do you begin cleaning your Tesla? You remove any loose items such as business cards and empty cups before cleaning the dashboard, center console, and door panels. After you find your rhythm you will move through this step-by-step guide with ease.

Your Tesla will likely include features that will need special care when cleaning. These features include the large display screen on the center of the dashboard, the Alcantara material dashboard, and the synthetic leather seats if you have chosen to go with this option.  There is a detailed answer to any question you may have.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Tesla’s Interior

Center Console and Side Doors

Before you get around to cleaning the upholstery, you will want to clean the center console, inside of the cup holders and storage containers on the sides of the doors. This way, you will avoid reintroducing dust and grime back onto the upholstery after you have already cleaned it. 

  • First, you will want to vacuum up the area:
    • Make sure that the vacuum attachment you are using doesn’t have any burrs or nicks on the end that can scratch plastic surfaces.
    • A good potential choice for a vacuum attachment to use would be a soft-bristled brush like the ones which can be found here.
    • The initial round of vacuuming can be quick after you have cleaned everything else you will want to do a final round of vacuuming to clean up any remaining dust or dirt.
  • Then you will wipe everything down with an all-purpose cleaner 
  • It is best that you do not apply the cleaner directly to the plastic, Rather you should use a microfiber cloth, such as the ones found here.
  • Avoid applying the all-purpose cleaner over large areas at the same time. If you apply large splotches of cleaner, you may not have enough time to clean it up before the solution becomes dry and leaves a mark on the plastic.
  • Work from high to low on door panels.
  • A more detailed version of these steps may be found here.

Dash

After cleaning the center console and side doors, you will want to clean the dashboard. The dashboard of a Tesla will be made of either plastic or a synthetic textile material called Alcantara. An Alcantara dash will require special attention when it comes to cleaning it.

  • Use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment on the hose, examples of the type of bush you want can be found here.
    • Vacuum the entire dashboard, making sure to remove all dust that may have accumulated, particularly in the upper portion of the dashboard beneath the window and above the display screen
  • Now it’s time to wipe and disinfect the dashboard. Standard Tesla Models will come with a plastic dashboard; however, there is always the option to go with Alcantra, a synthetic textile material
    • If the surface of the dashboard is plastic, you will want to wet a microfiber cloth with a mild soap solution and then rub down on the top of the dashboard
    • If the surface of the dashboard is Alcantra, you will want to take special attention to the dash since this material is known for collecting dust particles though it is more stain resistant:
      1. First spray fabric cleaner onto the tip of a soft-bristled brush, which should be similar to the ones used in auto detailing
      2. Then spray a small amount of fabric cleaner onto the surface you will be cleaning
      3. The bristled brush will work dust and dirt materials up out of the material, prior to the fabric cleaner solution drying up you will want to gently dab the surface with a microfiber cloth
      4. Pressing too hard will grind dust and dirt into the material
      5. This entire process is explained in far greater detail by a professional auto detailer in this video.

Touchscreen

If the surface of the Tesla touchscreen becomes smudged or dirtied, it is recommended you use soft microfiber cloths and chemicals such as isopropyl alcohol that are not too harshAvoid using tap water because it may have minerals in it. You will need a microfiber towel as well as either distilled water or isopropyl alcohol.

  • First, make sure that your Tesla display screen is on “Clean” mode.  This can be accomplished by:  
    • Finding the Tesla car icon on the bottom left corner of the screen 
    • Touching the icon that says “Controls” will take you to a screen showing various settings options
    • Hit the “Displays” button the upper left-hand side of the screen
    • Now you will see more options related to the screen. The second option from the top, the one below where it says “Auto-Brightness” will show the various display modes
    • Select “Clean Mode,” This will lock the screen
  • If your vehicle is brand new, you should’ve been provided a microfiber towel in the glovebox. Otherwise, you will need a microfiber glass cleaning cloth, such as the ones found here.
    • Spray the cloth, never the screen, with liquids such as distilled water (bottled water) or isopropyl alcohol if you are looking to loosen up smudges
  • Once you are finished, you will press down on the button in the middle that says, “Press to Exit Now.”
    • This will take you back to the Display Settings screen where you may exit back to the main display screen

Floor Mats

You will next want to remove the floor mats from under the seats and place them outside the car to be cleaned. The floor mats can be vacuumed and cleaned with a mild soap solution.

If you are having a difficult time with more stubborn stains, you will want to use a Multi-Surface Cleaner such as this oneIt is recommended that you dilute the all-purpose cleaner with a ratio of 3 or 4 parts water to each part cleaner and put the diluted solution in a spray bottle.

  • First Rinse the mat with water
  • Spray the diluted solution onto the mat.
  • Using a brush such as the one found here to rub the mat clean
  • Rub the mat quickly using alternating directions such as up and down and then side to side
  • Rinse the mat and then let it dry
  • A detailed video on cleaning floor mats to make them look brand new can be found here

Floor

While you are waiting on the floor mats to dry, you may clean the carpet of the car. You will need a vacuum and a carpet/upholstery shampoo in the case that there are stains. You will also need a microfiber cloth. 

  • First, you will want to vacuum the carpet, making sure to reach underneath all seats and other hard to get to spots.
  • If there are stains, you will want to use an auto carpet cleaner/upholster shampoo, such as the ones found here, according to the products specific directions
    • As an example, the company Chemical Guys recommends a dilution of 20 parts water to 1 part carpet cleaner fluid.
  • Once you have made your diluted cleaning solution, you can spray it liberally on the carpet.
  • The bottle with the cleaning fluid will have directions on it concerning how long you should let the carpet cleaner soak in before you begin scrubbing.
  • Brush the carpet with a stiff nylon brush with circular motions.
  • Use a clean terry-cloth towel such as the ones found here to rub the carpet dry, making sure that you are not pressing too hard as to avoid grinding dirt into the carpet,
  • Finish by vacuuming the carpet once more in order to pick up any dirt that wasn’t already picked up.

You may have heard of people using household solutions of water and vinegar. The concern with using this method to clean carpets is that it can lead to the use of a large quantity of water during the process. This water may not dry easily and can lead to the formation of mold or mildew underneath the carpet.

A detailed step-by-step guide to cleaning the carpet can be found here.

Seats

In 2016 Tesla began offering its customers a synthetic leather option for upholstery.  Synthetic leather seats are waterproof and require minimal effort to clean. You will need a vacuum for this as well a microfiber cloth and a cleaning solution.

  • Use a duster to shake off any loose dust or dirt that may have accumulated on the seats
  • Follow-up on the dusting with a vacuum, making sure to remove the loose dust and dirt that has become dislodged during the dusting process
    • Produce a mild detergent solution by mixing warm water and detergent, ½ cup of water to every ½ teaspoon of laundry detergent is the recommended solution
    • Fully wet a microfiber cloth with the solution
    • Wring out the cloth until it is damp in order to prevent soaking the car seat with too much liquid, doing so may lead to discoloration of the car seat
    • Take the damp cloth to the car seat and proceed to gently scrub the solution over the material using circular motions
    • Wipe away dirty suds with a clean cloth that has been dampened with water only
    • Detailed instructions on how to respond to specific spills may be found here

If stains are persistent, you may need to enlist the help of an auto carpet/upholstery shampoo.

  • Directions may vary by brand of auto carpet/upholstery shampoo, but the company Chemical Guys recommend a dilution of 20 parts water to 1 part cleaner fluid
  • Add solution to a spray bottle
  • Apply some solution to the stain itself and some to a nylon brush
  • Take a clean microfiber cloth and clean off the extracted dust and dirt

If you have one of the older Tesla models with a leather interior, you will want to take special care since genuine leather requires more attention to keep clean. A video of with tips on cleaning the leather interior of a Tesla can be viewed here

  • You will need a leather cleaner like this one. You will also need a horsehair brush for cleaning leather.
  • Spray the bush with some of the leather cleaner solutions. A little goes a long way. No more than two or three sprays are needed.
  • Scrub a small selected area with alternating up and down and side to side motions
  • Wipe off excess solution with a microfiber cloth

You may now use a leather conditioner which will likely come with the kit if you choose to buy a leather cleaning kit such as the one in the link above

  • Spray a few drops on a microfiber cloth
    • Work the conditioner into the leather using alternating side to side and up and down motions

Trunk

The front trunk of the Tesla Model S is a large plastic container. As is the case with the other sections of the vehicle mentioned earlier, you will want to dust and vacuum the surface prior to applying any liquids.

If you have stubborn stains on the plastic, you may find success with an interior detailer, such as the ones found on this page.

  • Start by applying a quarter-sized drop of the cleaner directly to the area of interest, such as a stubborn stain. You will want to work in small sections, never use a spot of cleaner that is larger than a quarter.
  • Brush the cleaner using a small soft-bristled brush. Spread the quarter-sized drop of cleaner over as large of an area as you are able
  • Brush the spot until the plastic underneath appears even and not faded compared to the rest of the trunk container or plastic area
  • Wipe the area dry with a clean microfiber cloth
  • The benefits of this method are described here

The back trunk or cargo space of the Tesla will have a trunk lip or rubber insert underneath the entry door to the trunk.  The inside of this rubber lip can accumulate dust and dirt over time and should not be overlooked when you are cleaning out the interior of your car

A professional auto dealer has shared how he cleans the trunk lip in this video.

You can easily clean the rubber lip using just a toothbrush and a microfiber towel. The microfiber towel will help absorb any grime that becomes dislodged during the process.

  • Find a clean toothbrush or small bristled auto detailing brush and wrap it in a microfiber towel
  • Spray a little bit of all-purpose cleaner inside the rubber trunk lip
  • Taking the brush and microfiber towel in hand, squeeze it along the inside of the trunk lip, going back and forth 

Remaining Odors

Some users online have expressed concerns regarding odors when they turn their air conditioning/heating on

  • Luckily an easy fix has been found
    • The cause of the smell may be the air filter. Turn your AC unit off a few minutes before you reach your destination. This will allow any moisture that may have accumulated in the air filter to dry out.
    • In the alternative, you may consider switching the air from the interior to the exterior every 15 minutes or so while you are driving. Users have reported success with smells going away within 3-4 days

Just be aware that a smell remaining even after you had thoroughly cleaned the interior may be related to this issue, and may not be because you happened to miss a spot when you were cleaning out the interior of the car.

Summary of Products Mentioned

  • Microfiber towels or cloths, used to clean surfaces without causing scratches, may be found here
  • All-purpose cleaners, a great option for removing stubborn stains from all surfaces including plastic or just performing general cleaning, may be found here
  • Automotive upholstery/ carpet shampoos, recommended for tough stains in seats and carpeting can be found here
  • Soft-bristled brushes  which should be similar to the ones commonly used in auto-detailing
  • The type of vacuum attachment you will want to use to avoid scratching or tearing of materials
  • leather cleaning kit for cleaning the genuine leather interiors of older Tesla models with that interior option
  • horsehair brush for cleaning leather

Recommended Order of Car Sections to Clean

  1. Center Console, Side Door Panels and Cupholders
  2. Dashboard
  3. Center Display Screen (Tablet)
  4. Carpeting
  5. Seats
  6. Rear Cargo Space and Front Cargo Space

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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