Interior Detailing

Tips for the Interior:
  • Use products sparingly. You do not want a buildup on surfaces which can cause staining. If you have already applied a product and you’re noticing an annoying sheen or dust/dirt, sometimes a damp (but well wrung-out!) microfiber cloth will be sufficient to help remove the residue without using a harsh cleaner.
  • Never spray anything directly onto surfaces. You risk getting the product between vents/in the small openings of the instrument cluster, etc. Many dashboard cleaners and detail sprays I have used are also very hard to remove from glass – so use care!
  • You will see me mention foam applicator pads going forward, and for me, they are hard to find locally. The only parts store that carries generic foam applicator pads in my area is Pep-Boys. They are $3.99 for a 3-pack. They are pretty durable and can withstand a couple of hand washes with detergent before they need to be discarded. It is a waste of money to buy foam applicator pads from boutique brands – so save your money!
Leather Wrapped Steering Wheels and Shift Knobs

What I Use: A microfiber cloth or foam applicator pad with any of the following:

  • Griot’s: Interior Cleaner, 3-in-1 Leather Care, Leather Care Liquid, Interior Detailer
  • Sonax: Dashboard Cleaner, Leather Foam
  • Mother’s: VLR

If you’re dealing with grease or the cloth is showing a lot of grime, you can use any of the products listed above, but for the dirtiest wheels, I’ve always used Mother’s VLR as my secret weapon. Spray a small amount of product onto a foam applicator pad or microfiber towel and evenly apply the product to the wheel, buffing until the wheel is no longer “wet” with cleaner.

If you are noticing discoloration on the wheel, such as a yellowing (generally near the top where sun exposure is greatest), this is where the leather has dried out. Clean the leather well and use a product such as Kiwi Black Leather Dye to seal the leather and prevent further deterioration. Make sure to lay a protective cover down on the carpet in case the dye drips. Use in a sweeping motion to prevent streaking and follow the application directions on the bottle.

Dashboards, Door Cards, and Vinyl Materials

What I Use: A microfiber cloth or foam applicator pad with any of the following:

  • Griot’s: Interior Cleaner, Interior Detailer
  • Sonax: Dashboard Cleaner
  • Mother’s: VLR
  • Lexol: Vinylex
  • 303: UV Protectant

The grain of the vinyl material in my Audis tends to trap dirt over time – so once again – Mother’s VLR is a really good product if the high-traffic areas such as the armrests, tops of door cards, center consoles, etc. haven’t had a good cleaning in a while. Once VLR does its job, you can revert back to one of the other less aggressive maintenance cleaners.

Depending on which vehicle you have, your dashboard material may be different. The general rule of thumb with aged dashboards is to use a product that will leave no residue and will not “coat” the vinyl. If you notice dust collecting on surfaces faster than usual, you used too much product! You also do not want a product baking into the dashboard in the hot sun. Ensure the material is cool to the touch before applying any product. If you notice any dashboard color transferring onto the pad, stop and discontinue use. Use a less aggressive cleaner or revert to a dampened cloth.

Most B3 (1988-1992) Audi 80/90 and early C3 (1989 and some very early build 1990) Audi 100/200 vehicles use a molded one-piece dash that is prone to melting and becoming “sticky.” For these vehicles, you should never wipe the dashboard with a cloth using pressure. Only use a foam applicator pad with a light sweeping motion. Any other method will damage the grain of the material and cause rub marks. A protectant should be used sparingly on these dashboards (about once a month if you’ve been parked in the sun, less if garaged), otherwise, dampen a foam pad with water and let air dry.

You have an EARLY refresh 100/200 dashboard if your ignition has a black surround piece on the center trim. When you open the door, the sides of the dash will also be molded and not separate pieces (two circles covering bolts). USE CAUTION!

1990+ C3 vehicles, C4+, B4+, and older C2, B2 vehicles which have “safer” dashboards can accept any of the products above. You will want to use a light circular motion, similar to applying wax. If you are noticing drips or applied the product too heavy, use the other side of a foam applicator pad to pick up any residue and give a final buff.


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You may do the same with all other vinyl materials in the vehicle, such as vinyl seating, door cards, armrests, pillars, etc. ensuring the product is not dripping onto the carpet or door card fabrics – they will stain!

Cloth Seats Door Card Fabrics, and Light Carpet Cleaning

What I Use: A lint roller or a rubber/silicone brush with any of the following:

  • Griot’s: Interior Cleaner
  • Sonax: Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner

It’s a small list, but I have tried a lot of fabric cleaners and I’ve been disappointed with the majority of them. Both are dye-free, won’t leave a residue, and clean without harming dyes and fibers. I do own a small hot water carpet extractor which each car got when I removed the seats for a “super” cleaning, and if you have a really dirty carpet on your hands, you may want to invest in one, and jump down to the “Very Dirty Carpets” section.

Help keep cloth fibers in good condition by running over them with a silicone fabric brush every so often. This brush has soft bristles that loosen embedded dirt under the fibers of the fabric. Silicone brushes can now easily be found at your local auto store – or a similar pet hair brush for furniture works, too. This will help if your fibers are matted down or you just need to “dust” them off. Vacuum carefully, never leaving the attachment in one spot for too long. Always brush and vacuum with the nap and never against it.

If you have velour seats and you want to be as crazy as I am, you may want to brush the seat to restore the nap after each use. Audi 5000/100/200/4000/80/90 vehicles with Kensington, Savoy, Serret, and Chenille Velour are prone to much more noticeable pattern-wear and fading. Consider limiting sun exposure on these cars to avoid issues such as black seats turning purple! The velour material should also be vacuumed sparingly. If you’re noticing dust or dirt gently use the silicone brush to “stir” up any embedded dust, then gently run a lint roller over the seats to pick up the debris. 

To lightly clean fabrics, spray a mist of cleaner onto the surface and use the silicone brush to work the cleaner into the surface, using back-and-forth motions and not circular ones. Then lightly vacuum and repeat if necessary.

If you have a small surface stain such as grease/grass/dirt/coffee, the cleaners above are dye free and can soak on the affected area for a few minutes to help loosen the contaminant. Blot the stain with a towel (don’t rub into the cloth). Then, vacuum as usual.

If you have an area with a sugary/soda or other liquid stain that has been there for a while, put a wet microfiber cloth over the area to soften the sugar in the fibers – vacuum first – then apply a cleaner and follow the above steps. If the stain is stubborn, you may need a cleaner with an oxy additive that is color-safe. My carpet extractor has a booster additive which helps brighten and remove set-in stains – you may be able to find a similar product with that you can spray on and blot.

Leather Seats

What I Use: A foam applicator pad or leather cleaning cloth with any of the following:

  • Lexol: Leather Conditioner (Brown Bottle), Leather Cleaner (Orange Bottle)
  • Griot’s: 3-in-1 Leather, Leather Care Liquid, Leather Rejuvenator.
  • Sonax: Leather Foam.
  • Mother’s: VLR
  • Zymol: Leather Cleaner & Conditioner

Follow directions on the bottle. This is where a foam applicator pad is essential – cleaning leather with a microfiber will just soak up the liquid and unevenly distribute the product. You can also use a specific leather cleaning cloth, which is lint-free and woven differently.

Black leather like this will show every speck of lint – so make sure you’re using the right applicator for the job that won’t leave its own mess behind.

What you should use depends on what condition your leather is currently in. If you’re working with leather that’s in good condition like the picture above, Griot’s, Zymol, and Sonax are very gentle and will work just fine. If your leather is starting to dry out or crack, you will want to step up to Griot’s Leather Rejuvenator or Lexol which is a little more aggressive. I wouldn’t recommend using something like this too frequently, though, especially on the older material in these cars.

If your leather is really dirty, you guessed it – Mother’s VLR still comes to the rescue and pulls up what the others can’t.

If your car gets a lot of sun, I’d say a quick wipe-down with conditioner every week would be sufficient. Like other products, you can use too much – so a little bit of product goes a long way.

Do not use a product made specifically for vinyl on leather. Leather cleaners can be used on vinyl but never the other way around!

Interior Glass Cleaning

What I Use: A microfiber cloth and any of the following:

  • Griot’s: Ultra Premium Glass Cleaner
  • Stoner: Invisible Glass
  • Meguiar’s: Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner

Spray the cleaner on the microfiber towel and not directly onto the glass to prevent it from dripping down into the dash/doors. These products will leave behind perfectly streak-free glass, but you have to buff them off well. The key is to not use too much to begin with. Use a back-and-forth motion with the sprayed side of the towel for the initial pass, then a circular motion with the dry side for the final buff.

Don’t forget to lower the side windows and run the cloth along the top edge of the glass – you’ll be surprised how much dirt collects there, too!


What I Use: A paintbrush-style auto vent brush and cotton swabs.

To prevent scuffing, use a soft-bristle auto vent brush, as opposed to one with plastic bristles. The egg-crate style vents on many older Audis are good at trapping dust, so you may need to do more than just quick brushing and get in between with cotton swabs dampened with interior cleaner to remove the layer of buildup.

Wood Trim 1988+ vehicles (If Applicable)

What I Use: A dampened microfiber cloth, then buff dry.

The wood trim can be a trouble spot on older Audi interiors. Depending on your vehicle’s manufacture date, you fall into two camps:

Vehicles manufactured before 11/89: The clear coat Audi put on this wood is more prone to clouding but not cracking. You may notice one piece is hazy or milky compared to the others. Unfortunately, the haze goes all the way through to the wood – it’s not a top-level oxidation issue of the clear coat. DO NOT attempt to use paint polish, plastic cleaner, or any other chemical to try and “buff” this trim back to it’s original clarity – it won’t work and you risk rubbing through the clear coat.

Vehicles manufactured after 11/89: The clear coat was modified because of these hazing issues. However, this wood is more prone to cracking but not clouding. To take care of this trim, you should gently use a dampened microfiber cloth to remove dust, and then buff until dry. Using a dashboard cleaner or any other product will coat the wood trim and cause streaking. If you spray cleaner directly on a piece with a crack in the clear coat, the cleaner can seep in and bleed through the trim. Not good!


What I Use: Spot clean with a damp microfiber cloth.

The most common interior problem with older Audis. The headliner has an orange foam adhesive backing that ultimately degrades over time and causes it to fall. Those who have dealt with cleaning up after a fallen headliner will know – the orange foam will get everywhere and trying to clean it off cloth or other fabric surfaces is a nightmare.

Luckily, if your headliner is still up but sagging, you can spot clean any dirt marks with a damp cloth, but don’t saturate the area with water – it will disturb the foam adhesive.

Sometimes it’s also better to leave well alone… so if you don’t have to touch the headliner, then don’t!

Very Dirty Carpets

What I Use: Any of the following methods can be used until desired results are achieved:

  • Griot’s: Interior Cleaner
  • Sonax: Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner
  • A 50/50 mix of distilled warm water and vinegar
  • Diluted all-purpose cleaner (APC) such as Simple Green, Krud Kutter, etc. with warm water (follow label instructions for fabrics/carpets)

Loosen dirt as you would when cleaning other fabrics – use a rubber/silicone scrub brush so your not damaging the fibers. Vacuum as much grit out of the carpets as possible before applying a cleaner.

Work the solution into the carpet using a gentle circular motion. Go one section at a time – you don’t want to allow the area to dry out. Then, use a wet/dry vac to get up as much liquid as possible and let air dry for several hours. Try doing this on a sunny day where you can keep air flowing through the interior.

Depending on how bad your carpets are, you may want to invest in a small carpet extractor that is designed to use specific detergent and will pull up dirt and water better than a wet/dry vac. You don’t need anything professional – just a small unit that can keep the water heated while you’re working.

Floor mats that have been matted down or have heel marks – Scrub as you would normally, but use a stiffer-bristled carpet brush to restore the pile of the carpet. Do not use a stiff brush if you have factory mats that are low-pile as these fibers cannot handle this scrubbing.

Metal Window Trim (C3 89-91 Vehicles)

What I Use: Wadding polish or liquid metal polish with a microfiber cloth.

At least on the 89-91 C3 vehicles, the door cards have a strip of metal trim near the top where it meets the glass. Like the exterior strip, this can also be polished with a small amount of metal polish and buffed with a clean microfiber cloth. It’s easier to put the window down to and clean this from the outside of the car. Be careful to not get metal polish on vinyl or painted surfaces.

This metal trim is known to show cracks in the finish – sometimes this is just the top protective layer that has been affected by sun exposure. With enough polishing, you can knock this down or remove it completely to restore the appearance of the trim.

Instrument Cluster Scratches

What I Use: A microfiber cloth and any of the following:

  • Meguiar’s: PlastX or Ultimate Polish
  • 3M: Hard Plastic & Lens Cleaner

You can increase the clarity of the instrument cluster by lightly polishing the plastic face with a mild plastic scratch remover. If you don’t have a specific plastic polish on hand, Ultimate Polish produces similar results. This is a job that is much easier if you remove the cluster from the dash. Use the product sparingly and tape openings and corners to prevent getting the product into places you don’t want.

When you polish the face, use light pressure and go in one direction, so if sunlight hits it any micro-scratches are at least in the same uniform direction. If you use a circular motion and you’re rubbing too hard, you can inflict more damage.

Now that you’ve “brushed” up on how to keep a clean interior, move on over to Exterior Detailing for everything I do to maintain paint, wheels, and even engine bays.