How to Clean Your Car’s Dashboard In 5 Easy Steps

Man cleaning car dashboard using yellow clothYou see your car’s dashboard every day but, when you’re looking ahead at the road while driving, you might not notice the dust gathering atop the dash. If you’re wondering how to clean your car’s dashboard, we’ve researched the best methods and products to provide the answer.

You can clean your car’s dashboard in five simple steps:

  1. Vacuum using a brush attachment.
  2. Dust using a microfiber towel or soft cloth. Use a paintbrush, toothbrush, or Q-tip to dust hard to reach areas like air vents.
  3. Wipe clean by using a microfiber towel or soft cloth that has been dampened with lukewarm water.
  4. Dry using a clean, microfiber towel or soft cloth.
  5. Polish by applying either an automotive, interior polish or household, natural oil to a soft cloth and wiping the product onto the dashboard. (Do NOT polish instrument panel screens or infotainment touchscreens.)

Let’s take a closer look at how to clean the dashboard step-by-step. Keep reading, and we’ll also tell you what cleaning tools and cleaners are the best to use for optimal care of your car’s dashboard and interior surfaces.

Step 1:  Vacuum

The dashboard tends to be a drop-spot for all things that accumulate in our cars like sunglasses, iPods, coffee mugs, knick-knacks, mints, water bottles, lighters, receipts, air fresheners, charging cords, books, gloves, and spare change, to name a few. Remove all your personal items and any trash from the dashboard and center console before you start to clean.

Vacuum the dashboard, above the steering wheel, inside the cup holders, and the center console. Using a brush attachment will avoid scratching on any of the dashboard’s surfaces.

Step 2:  Dust

Use a microfiber cloth or handheld microfiber duster to dust the entire dashboard area, including above and along with the steering wheel, around the stereo and climate control buttons/dials, around the shifter, inside cup holders, and inside the center console.

For dusting hard to reach crevices and air vents, you might try using a Q-tip, toothbrush, or paintbrush. If you find that your cloth or duster is loosening debris, grab the vacuum’s brush attachment in one hand and your duster in the other to vacuum up the debris as you dust it out.

Step 3:  Wipe

A soft, clean cloth can be used to wipe the dashboard’s surfaces. Dampen the cloth with lukewarm water or, if your dashboard is particularly grimy, you might consider applying a mild non-abrasive cleanser to the cloth for deep cleaning.

Do not spray or apply the water or cleanser directly to the dashboard. There is no need to saturate the cloth if it is dripping wet; wring it out before you wipe the dashboard.

Step 4:  Dry

When you are finished cleaning, you should dry the dashboard with a clean, soft cloth.

Step 5:  Polish

A clean, dry dashboard is ready for a bit of extra shine! You can use an automotive polish specifically for interior surfaces or use a household product such as natural oils (olive, coconut, or boiled linseed oil).

Apply the polish to a soft, clean cloth and wipe the dashboard’s surfaces. Follow by wiping with a dry, clean cloth to remove any excess polish. CAUTION:  Do not use polishing products or oils on the instrument panel screen or infotainment touchscreen as they can leave a greasy film or discolor the screen.

How Do You Clean the Dashboard Screen?

The plastic on your dashboard’s instrument panel screen can be very soft and easily scratched, so you should be careful to select only non-abrasive cleaning tools and cleansers to clean the screen.

A microfiber cloth works great for dusting the instrument panel screen. To clean, wipe the screen with a dampened, soft cloth.

How Do You Clean a Touchscreen Monitor?

Man touching LED touchscreen monitor in car

If your car has a central infotainment touchscreen on the dash, you can easily dust and clean the screen without causing any damage to the display. Use a soft cloth to dust the screen gently. To clean fingerprints and smudges, dampen a soft cloth with water and wipe the touchscreen gently.

Toyota recommends that you never use chemical-based cleaners on your car’s touchscreen because these potentially discolor the screen.

What are the Best Products for Cleaning the Dashboard?

You might already have some of these cleaning tools or commercial cleansing products at home but, if you are looking for the best supplies to clean your car’s dashboard, here are a few of our favorites.


Every car interior cleaning job starts with a vacuum. A compact vacuum can help you clean your car’s dashboard using powerful suction with various attachments.

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Dust & Wipe

Microfiber cloths are a versatile cleaning tool for your car’s dashboard. Ideal for dusting, wiping, and drying, microfiber cloths are reusable because they can be tossed in the washing machine after every job.

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Microfiber dusters come in a variety of shapes and can help you to reach tricky, interior areas. Use your washable duster every time you clean your car’s dashboard.

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Cleanse & Polish

Using an automotive interior surface cleaner will not only cleanse but also leave a polished, protected finish on your car’s dashboard.

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Apply an automotive interior polish to your clean dashboard for long-lasting protection from UV and stains.

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Can You Use Olive Oil to Clean the Car’s Dashboard?

Natural oils like olive oil can add shine to your car’s dashboard and protect the surface from drying out. Use olive oil as a polish for your already cleaned dashboard by applying the olive oil to a soft cloth and wiping it on the dashboard's surfaces. Finish by wiping with a dry, soft cloth to remove any excess oil. You might want to avoid polishing the steering wheel because olive oil can feel slippery.

Try oiling a small, unnoticeable area of the dashboard first, before applying olive oil to the entire surface, to make sure it does not discolor your dash and that you are pleased with the result.

Is Coconut Oil Good for My Car’s Dashboard?

Another natural oil, coconut oil, can also be used to polish your car’s clean dashboard. Apply a small amount of coconut oil to a clean, soft cloth and wipe the dashboard's surfaces. Follow by wiping with a dry cloth to remove any excess oil.

What Household Products Can I Use to Clean My Car’s Interior?

If you want to keep your car’s interior surfaces clean, you don’t have to spend a fortune on commercial products because you’ve got several options right at home. Try any of these common household products the next time you clean your car’s dashboard.

Dust with Dryer Sheets

You can use dryer sheets to dust your car’s dashboard. Not only do dryer sheets trap the dust as you wipe but, they’ll also leave a pleasant scent lingering in your vehicle.

Swipe Clean with Baby Wipes

Use baby wipes to clean your car’s dashboard with one swipe. Baby wipes pick up grime along the way but are mild enough not to damage the surface of your dashboard. You can even keep a pack of baby wipes in the glove box for a quick cleaning solution.

Eliminate Odors with Baking Soda

Sprinkle some baking soda into the cup holders or ashtray while you clean the other interior surfaces of your car. The baking soda will absorb the odors. Vacuum out the baking soda afterward and then wipe with a damp cloth and let the area dry.

Brush Up Stains with Toothpaste

If you’ve got a stain on your car’s dash, armrests, center console, or trim, you can brush it up using toothpaste. This mildly abrasive cleanser can be applied directly to the stained area. Test the toothpaste on a small, unnoticeable area to make sure you are happy with the result.

To remove stains with toothpaste:

  • Use a soft to medium bristle toothbrush or small, interior brush to gently scrub on plastic or fabric surfaces.
  • Use a soft cloth to gently scrub on sensitive surfaces like vinyl or leather.
  • Do NOT apply toothpaste to the instrument panel screen or infotainment touchscreen because it can scratch these surfaces.

Finish by removing the toothpaste by vacuuming (if loose) and blotting with a damp cloth. Let the area dry.

Get Rid of Grime with Dish Detergent

Add a small amount of dish detergent to the warm water you’ll use to dampen your soft cloth for wiping. Dish detergent will help to lift grease and grime from the dashboard as you wipe. You can also use dish detergent to clean your car’s fabric seats, fabric armrests, or fabric trim.

Disinfect with Vinegar

Add a dash of vinegar to the warm water you’ll use to dampen your soft cloth for wiping. Vinegar will disinfect the area as you wipe and, you can safely use diluted vinegar on the instrument panel screen and infotainment touchscreen.

Test your water-vinegar solution on a small, unnoticeable area of the surface you want to disinfect to confirm it won’t discolor the material before you apply to the entire surface.

How Do I Clean the Plastic Inside My Car?

Clean the plastic on your car’s interior surfaces by following the steps provided for cleaning the dashboard. Consider using a plastic-specific product that cleans, polishes, and protects while being safe to use on various interior surfaces.

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Now you know how to keep your car’s dashboard clean and polished easily. Whether you use commercial products or household products, you’ll always be ready to give your dash a quick swipe clean and protected finish.

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