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How to Remove Beach Sand from Your Car the Right Way

Had some fun on your beach trip, but now you have sand everywhere? Hey, it happens. If you have sand deep in your car’s carpet, seats, and everywhere else…keep reading.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll cover the best way to remove beach sand from your car’s interior, and a few tips to make car sand removal easier in the future.

Wash the outside before cleaning the inside

If you recently returned from the beach, wash the outside of your vehicle first so you don’t track more sand inside. To avoid corrosion from sand and salt, spray underneath your car’s undercarriage to remove sand and salt. If you have an air compressor, use a wand to blow out sand from underneath the hood or in nooks and crannies.

Sand is pretty easy to remove, but remember to rinse off as much sand on your paint before bucket washing. Check out our guide on the best order to wash your car if you need a quick refresher.

Before tackling the interior, I recommend using microfiber towels to remove dirt and sand around door jambs or seals. Since sand can sometimes stick to these areas, microfiber will dislodge AND pick up these particles.

Quick Tip

Microfiber is designed to lift particles, so they’re ideal for sand removal in cupholders, door jambs, or anywhere else. Keep a pile of older microfiber towels separate from the ones you use on the exterior. These can be handy when cleaning soiled areas like your engine bay or around door seals.

Last but not least, check your engine air filter and cabin air filter if it’s been a while; heavy sand can sometimes impact airflow to the engine.

How to remove sand from car carpet

Step 1: Give the mats a good shake

For the first step, remove as much loose sand as possible by shaking out your mats. If you deal with sand often, consider purchasing rubber floor mats and trunk liners. Trunk liners or cargo mats are great if you haul beach chairs, golf bags, or other dirty items in your vehicle. 

I like the WeatherTech line of rubber mats because they are the best I’ve found and are easy to shake, rinse, or wipe off easily.

Step 2: Use vacuum attachments to remove visible sand

Once you shake down your mats, vacuum up all visible sand using a brush or crevice attachment. If you have a thin carpet, don’t use a stiff bristled brush to prevent creating bald spots on the carpet. I have a cheap aftermarket carpet kit, and the best route for sand removal is light suction…not agitation with a brush.

Step 3: Use a palm sander to bring sand to the surface of the carpet

Since you can’t see sand embedded deep in the carpet, a vibrating palm sander is one of the best ways to lift trapped sand particles to the surface. Use your vacuum cleaner in one hand, and place the palm sander on the carpet. 

How to remove sand in cupholders and other interior surfaces

I recommend wiping down your dash and other areas before cleaning the carpet, so you don’t have to worry about getting sand on clean carpet or mats.

Step 1: Use a microfiber towel and vacuum

Sand can be finicky, so take your time wiping down the interior. If the sand is dry, use a dry microfiber towel with a vacuum and crevice tool to grab loose sand particles around cupholders, seats, door crevices, and your dash.

A Shop Vac is ideal for beach sand removal because the motors are designed to tolerate heavier debris unlike household vacuums.

Since sand can be sticky when wet, wait until it dries before vacuuming.

Quick Tip

Soft-bristed detailing brushes can help remove stuck-on grains of sand that need dislodging. Use a simple interior detailing spray with your detailing brush, and finish with a microfiber towel.

Step 2: Use tape or clay to remove sand from seams and crevices

An old piece of automotive clay (or masking tape) can help lift sand from hard-to-reach areas that towels or crevice tools can’t reach. You don’t need very sticky tape that could leave residue behind, just something like painter’s tape or masking tape.  

Sometimes a bit of tape with a tiny amount of adhesive can be more effective for stuck-on particles than microfiber. Lint rollers can also help quickly remove particles like glitter or sand on flat surfaces.

Now that you have a clean car again, here are some tips to prevent tracking sand in your car:

  • Place an old towel over floor mats before driving.
  • Sprinkle baby powder or talcum powder on sandy feet or legs. These products absorb water so sand will fall off more easily.
  • Place sandy belongings in a plastic bag.
  • Give your feet, legs, and belongings a thorough rinse if possible.

At the end of the day, you can be as cautious as you’d like to keep beach sand out of your vehicle, especially if you’re trying to keep a new car clean.

We always recommend regular cleaning and detailing—even if you spend lots of time at the beach; a clean car helps you guard against premature pitting and rust.

Learn how to wash your car like a pro

Need a quick guide on how to wash your car from A to Z? Be sure to download our free Car Wash Cheat Sheet. It covers everything from interior to exterior detailing, what steps to follow, and what products you need to start washing your car like a professional.

Good luck and happy detailing!

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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