When it comes to cleaning your Jeep’s plastic and vinyl surfaces (mainly the interior), there are a ton of products you can use to clean these types of surfaces, but which ones actually work well?
After trying several products over the years, from Armor All wipes to a variety of other cleaners, for me it came down to using the right tools and finding a cleaner that worked well and was affordable.
In this post, I wanted to share a technique used in the auto detailing community that I found works wonders on all of the plastic, vinyl, and rubber trim pieces on my Jeep Wrangler TJ.
What you’ll need: auto detailing brushes
Keep in mind my Jeep is a Wrangler X so it doesn’t have any leather on the interior. If you do have textured plastic or vinyl throughout your Jeep, be sure to pick up a couple of auto detailing brushes in different sizes.
You can basically follow the same steps, but just be sure to use a product like Lexol Cleaner and Conditioner. I’ve found it works a lot better than those cheaper leather cleaning wipes.
The reason brushes work so well is because of the bristles. While they come in a few different types, they clean areas like vents and door panels in ways you simply can’t with just a microfiber towel.
My product of choice: Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Vinyl and Plastic Cleaner – M39 Mirror Glaze
Honestly many products on the market used to clean dashboards and vinyl interiors are really only meant for cleaning up grease or food particles and don’t contain the foaming cleaning agents that you really need to properly clean this type of surface.
One reason I recommend is Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Vinyl cleaner because it foams quite well when used with an interior detailing brush and is meant for heavy duty cleaning. Above is a video of me cleaning a door with this stuff you can see how it works.
Meguiar’s also makes an M40 product (more of a conditioner) as well as several other numbered products, which all do many of the same (but slightly different) things. Many of these all-in-one vinyl or plastic cleaners you find in stores try to clean and protect simultaneously, instead of doing one or the other very well.
While you’re at it, I would highly recommend also picking up a basic interior detailing brush kit like this one on Amazon while you’re at it. This can really help to dislodge dirt and cause the M40 to begin to foam up.
All in all I highly recommend you pick up a bottle or two of this stuff since it’s so versatile and can also be used on hard or soft tops.
Cleaning rubber and plastic trim pieces
Not only can you use this product on the interior, but it does a great job at cleaning doors, bumpers, rubber trim, and other plastic surfaces. If you are going to be applying any sort of trim restore product, it definitely helps to first use a cleaner to remove the bug guts and other substances. You can also use this product to clean your soft top (if you have one) I cover in this post.
I like to use a few different brush sizes depending on the surface. You’ll want a thicker brush for the bumpers, and a smaller one for crevices and hard to reach areas of your interior.
Quick tip: Removing bug splatter from your Jeep’s side mirrors
One thing I’ve noticed whenever washing my Jeep is the tendency for a bug guts to stay on any surface even after using a wash mitt and soap.
After cleaning your interior, this product in combination with an auto detailing brush is a very delicate way to clean bugs off your plastic side mirrors. Bug removal products can be effective, but they often leave these surface greasy.
Use a microfiber towel to finish
Instead of starting with a microfiber (which I have admittedly done in the past), they really work best after you have agitated the surface with the brush and created foam. Microfiber’s are designed to lift dirt (via their tiny piles), but aren’t as effective as brush bristles at agitating a surface and cleaning hard to reach areas.
If you’ve ever tried to clean the pocket in your driver’s side door with a microfiber towel you know how difficult it can be!
Keep in mind that reconditioning requires a separate process of applying trim restore or even a vinyl paint product. However, prior to applying any sort of coating or protectant, it’s important to clean vinyl or plastics to prevent trapping or sealing dirt or bugs underneath a top-coat or finishing product.
If you plan to just re-paint your Jeep’s dashboard or trim pieces, it’s especially important to make sure the surface is clean prior to applying a self-etching primer and a vinyl paint product.
If you simply want to protect your vinyl trim pieces, I would recommend Aerospace 303 or Mother’s VLR. Both are extremely effective at protecting a cleaned vinyl or plastic surface from getting (as) dirty. You may even notice fewer bugs stick to these exterior surfaces.
Hopefully this post has been helpful for tackling your Jeep Wrangler’s interior! For other tips focused on washing and detailing your keep, feel free to check out the recommended posts below.
Let me know if you have any tutorials or cleaning guides you would like me to create for your Jeep!