How to clean old interior pieces?

Discussion in 'Workshop Forum' started by myredracer, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. myredracer

    myredracer True Classic

    Any recommendations for cleaning 50+ year old interior pieces/upholstery? Seats, door cards, etc. They're covered in a cloth type material (vinyl?). I think it's common material used in 60s-80s era Fiats.

    I assume you'd start with soap & water. Then what? Simple Green or Totally Awesome? Is there a Meguiars product or other brand after that is recommended? I want to stay away from Armor All. Not trying to make it look brand new necessarily and patina is okay. It's not damaged, just dirty, old looking and darker than it should be.
  2. Jeff Stich

    Jeff Stich True Classic

    Norco, CA
    I've used good ol' saddle soap with good results, it tends to clean but not dry out the vinyl material like other soaps/cleansers might. Use a soft-bristled brush for dirtier panels. You can then follow-up with a decent leather cleaner/conditioner to soften/moisturize the vinyl, then buff with a clean soft cloth to avoid the Armor-All "wet look".
  3. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Sin City
    Back in the day Simple Green was the magic go-to cleaner for everything. However there was a big debate later saying it actually destengrates the materials it is used on over time (which may be true, I've had it eat the paint off my tool cabinet when a bottle leaked a little). Frankly I do not find that it works all that well anyway. There are much better cleaners for degreasing, etc. However I would not use any of them on interior surfaces, they are too harsh and will lead to what JeffS describes.

    Also I would not use much water in the cleaning/rinsing process, especially on the door cards. It will warp the cardboard backing.

    I think it would be best to use a mild cleaner that does not require a lot of rinsing and a soft scrub brush, like JeffS said. Steam cleaners also work well if the surfaces are really bad with stains, mold, etc. Just don't get it too hot or too wet in the process. For carpets that are removed from the car, I've read that going over them with a pressure washer does wonders - but I've not tried it (I usually replace with new carpets).
  4. I've tried a pressure washer on floor mats and it worked extraordinarily well. I used a fan spray nozzle.
    Dr.Jeff likes this.
  5. Cratecruncher

    Cratecruncher True Classic

    When I restored the listings in my seat upholstery I removed the covers from the seats and soaked them in the sink with Woolite and warm water for a couple of hours. Then I agitated them like a washing machine except by hand. I couldn't believe the filth that came out of those velour seat covers. I rinsed them four or five times and they still ran brown mud. After lightly brushing them I let them air dry on a sweater frame and they came out looking much brighter with more of the original tweed pattern visible.
    kmead likes this.
  6. ricar

    ricar Daily Driver

    Waterdown Ont.
    You really cant beat the magic erasers. A little soap and water and away you go. The eraser won't survive a whole interior though. The original Mr.Clean is the best I have found.

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