Monday, May 12, 2014

A First: Professional Interior Detail (warning for those easily disgusted...)

Now this is going to be a tough post. Because the photographs won't do justice to the work done.

As most know by now, I tend to keep my car clean.  Very clean. But I've never taken my car to a professional for any cleaning work - until now.

The primary reason I did this time, was because I had recently driven to a place where, I suspect enough pollen accumulated in my car so that, even with the recently installed A/C filter (and yes on recirculate), my hay fever was still triggered.  I was sneezing so much, and my nose running so much, I had tissues stuffed up my nostrils...

So I had to figure out a way to clean the interior without suffering, and clean it such that there was a significant reduction in pollen.

Enter Kabe-san at RAPT. I've gone to him before in the past for some minor body work and for tinting my windows, but his true profession is auto detailing. So I was curious to see what methods he used as well, perhaps there would be some techniques I could use.

As you can see, pretty busy times for RAPT, right during the Golden Week holidays.

What bothered me most, was the amount of dust in the air ducts, like this, that I just couldn't seem to remove:
See all that pollen, dust, etc. on the bottom of the vent?
Anyway, Kabe-san had told me that he would remove the seats, and use steam. So I was curious to see what kind of difference awaited me.

He was also nice enough, to post on the RAPT blog, the steps he took to clean my car. I've taken the following photos, and summarized the steps from the RAPT blog at:

First step, before he took the photos, was to clean the dashboard. Then...

Remove front seats
Oh my, look at that dirt under the front seat. Yes, it's been a while since I vacuumed the interior thoroughly...

Adding Steam to loosen up the embedded dirt in the carpet

Using a "rinser" he then vacuumed up all the dirt and grime
Wow looks cleaner already!

Here is the driver's seat before any work
The Japanese description talks about how I was concerned with "sebumsebaceous matter" - in other words, 17 years of human sweat and oils...

Steam to break up the oils

The "rinser" again to vacuum it up...
I am assuming that this brownish matter is... organic??

The dirt just from the floor
Thank the lord this was dirt from the carpet, not stuff embedded in the seats!

Nice and clean after the steam cleaning... letting the seats and floor dry.
I'm not sure why that (seat) bolt is on the floor there, lol.

This looks clean
He didn't mention in his blog, but it's clear he steam cleaned the cloth inserts as well (after this photo was shot).

But using a special cleaning solution and sponge he rubbed this off...

After the above, he finished off other sections of the car, including the trunk!

He also told me he used a special tool to clean the vents:
You can see there is much less dust here!

What the photos don't show, is how the cloth materials now feel cleaner - like brand new - and the car smells different.  Before it had a slight industrial smell, but somewhat "manly." (a combination of smoke and engine blow-by... or so I thought)?? But now the car smells like new car...

Interestingly, Kabe-san told me that the previous (and first) owner of my car was a smoker (I'm not)!  To me, everything looked very clean, but apparently when he steam cleaned the ashtray, there was some tell tale brownish runoff - Kabe-san surmises the previous owner must have smoked with the driver's side window open, arm resting on the armrest... And actually, this explains why my armrest shows some wear there (the cushioning is gone).

He was also kind enough to put an "after" photo up on his blog.
Unfortunately the photo is a bit blurred, but it would be hard to tell from any photo the difference, especially as I keep my cars relatively clean. But as I stated above, the difference is readily apparent from a tactile and olfactory perspective!!  And yes, no more pollen!

Anyway, given the pricing, which is very reasonable, this may be something I do once a year, as I do love the new car feel and smell.

PS - One thing we discussed afterwards - does anyone know of any makers of high quality automobile carpet? Would love to do such an upgrade...


Karl said...

The best bit of any steam cleaning is the dirty water... I run around saying "look, look!" to any and all people I can find afterwards!

Kadir said...

I enjoyed this update. Because I like to keep my car clean. Your blog is a joy to read! Many thanks for sharing.

Miguel speaks very highly of you. I can understand why.

Aki said...

Kadir! Yes I know you keep your car very clean so thank you for the message!!

Peter Floyd said...

Nice post

Tom Bradly said...

Ah, that car looked great! Thanks for the warning as well.

Aki said...

Thanks guys!