Time to hit the open road! We are officially in the summer months and that means it is time for family vacations and road trips. There are two types of people – pre-road trip detailers and post-road trip detailers. At Rug Doctor, we say do both! Unfortunately, paying someone to shampoo your car before and after a road trip could potentially cost you hundreds of dollars and cut into your road trip snack budget. But not with Rug Doctor! We offer rental machines to help you deep clean your car inside and out. Do it yourself and get professional level results at a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional.

Detailing the Inside of Your Vehicle

Before getting started, rent a Rug Doctor Pro Portable Detailer and Spot Cleaner. Visit our rental locator to find a retailer near you. We also offer home delivery in select areas. You can rent the machine for 24 hours or save even more money with a 4-hour rent. You will need an upholstery cleaning solution to use with the machine. We recommend Rug Doctor Spot + Upholstery. You can pick it up on the rental rack when getting your machine, or you can add it to your cart when renting through home delivery.

You will also need a vacuum cleaner, re-usable microfiber cloths, window cleaner, and an interior car protectant.

Once you have everything you need, follow this easy step-by-step guide to deep clean the inside of your vehicle.

  1. Remove car seats from the vehicle. Check your car seat’s manual for how to remove the cloth covering and wash it in the washing machine. Wipe down the outside of the car seat with a wet cloth. You don’t want to tarnish a beautifully, newly cleaned car with a dirty car seat!
  2. Remove all trash and other clutter from the car.
  3. Remove the floor mats and lay them across a bench or on cement. Do not lay them on the ground. You don’t want to get the bottom of them dirty and then place them back in your newly clean car. Vacuum the floor mats.
  4. Vacuum the entire vehicle. Most vacuums come with a crevice tool. Use your crevice tool to vacuum between the seats and the doors and between the seat and the middle console.
  5. Now you are ready to deep clean! Follow instructions as listed on your Rug Doctor Pro Portable Detailer and Spot Cleaner or you can download the operational guide from our support page. Start with your floor mats so they can be drying while you clean the rest of your vehicle. Lay the floor mats on swept concrete or over a bench in the sun to dry. Move on to the car seats and then shampoo the floorboard of your car. You can also do the trunk or storage space areas. The Pro Portable Spot Cleaner and Detailer is for soft surfaces only. Do not use on leather. Reference your vehicle’s manual for instructions on how to clean leather seats.
  6. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the interior of the car including the dash, steering wheel, doors, and console. Don’t forget to wipe down the seatbelts, air conditioning vents and cup holders, too.
  7. Spray window cleaner directly into the microfiber cloth and wipe down the inside of the windshield and windows.
  8. Spray interior protectant directly onto all hard surfaces and buff with a clean microfiber cloth. An interior protectant helps to keep your dash and other areas from cracking and fading.
  9. After the interior soft and hard surfaces are dry, return your floor mats and the other items you have removed to your vehicle.

Detailing the Exterior of Your Vehicle

Before getting started, check the weather to make sure there is no rain in the forecast on your cleaning day. Rent a Rug Doctor Pro Electric Pressure Washer at one of your local retailers listed on our rental locator, or schedule a home delivery. We also recommend purchasing the Rug Doctor Outdoor Cleaner concentrate for an added clean. You can purchase it at the rental rack when picking up your machine or add it to your cart when scheduling home delivery.

You will also need a 5-gallon bucket and soft sponge, microfiber cloths, window cleaner, microfiber towel, and wheel cleaner (optional).

After gathering everything you need, follow this guide for a professional DIY clean.

  1. Clean your wheels. Wash your wheels first with a wheel cleaner. Be sure to clean the front face and inside the wheel’s barrel.
  2. Pre-rinse your vehicle with the Pro Electric Pressure Washer. Follow instructions for setup and use as listed on the machine or download our operational guide from our support page. IMPORTANT: Keep the end of the spray wand at least 4 feet away from the vehicle to prevent damage to the paint.
  3. Add Rug Doctor Outdoor Cleaner to the pressure washer. Follow instructions as listed on the machine and cleaner. Spray the soapy mixture all over the vehicle until the machine is empty of cleaner.
  4. Add a small amount of dish soap to the 5-gallon bucket and fill with water. Use your soft sponge to clean the entire vehicle moving from top to bottom. Move the sponge in a small circular motion.
  5. Use the Pro Electric Pressure Washer to rinse the vehicle. Rinse from top to bottom to make sure all soap is removed. Be sure to rinse the wheels again as well.
  6. Use the microfiber towel to dry. Be sure to dry along the window edges, between the hood and windshield, around the windshield wipers and the roof.
  7. Pull your windshield wipers out. Spray a microfiber cloth with glass cleaner and wipe down all windows. Push windshield wipers back in. You can also use this on your headlights and taillights.

Returning Rug Doctor Rental Machines

After cleaning, return your Rug Doctor rental machine to the store or schedule a pickup if you chose home delivery. Take care to follow all the steps in preparing the machine for return included in the operational guides. Returning a machine late or dirty can result in additional charges.

Keeping Your Vehicle Clean While on the Road (Hacks)

Whether you deep clean your car before you leave on a road trip or not, there are steps you can take while on the road to help limit the amount of post-road trip clean up. Use some of these hacks during your next road trip to keep your vehicle clean while on the road.

  • Have a potty-training toddler and don’t want to backslide into diapers? Place puppy pads in the bottom of the car seat to help prevent accidents from soaking through to the car seat covering.
  • Keep small trash bags in the vehicle and any time you stop, fill one up and toss it.
  • Don’t let stains set in. Keep a stain cleaner on hand and use for spills or other stains before they set. We recommend our Spot + Pre-treat Dual Action Cleaner. It is great at removing stains and odors from food, grease, coffee, tea, juice, soda and other road trip essentials.
  • If traveling with a pet, keep a lint brush on hand and give your seats or pet area a once over with it at every stop.
  • If taking a long trip, every so often run your vehicle through an automatic car wash. This will keep bugs, dirt and debris from building up.
  • Keep a couple of small caddies or eating trays on hand to make fast food dining less messy.

Don’t Stress and Have a Great Time on Your Road Trip

While a clean car can feel good, quality time with those you love feels even better. The most important tips we can give you is to drive safe, eat all the snacks and have fun! No matter what spills or stains you collect along the way, there is no need to stress. Rug Doctor will be here to help when you get back from your epic adventure!