Keeping a semi-truck clean is a big job. When truckers spend so much time on the road, they have little cleaning time, and they live in a fairly limited space. That means the truck’s cabin can get messy pretty fast.
Why is keeping your truck clean so important? For one thing, it helps make a good impression as you travel across the country…you’re a professional driver and you want to project that image to everyone. Additionally, it vastly increases your trucks’ future resale values. If you’re planning on selling your truck and upgrading at a future date, you can’t afford not to keep your truck spotlessly clean.
You could always pay to have someone clean your interior – or you could save time and money by knowing the ins and outs of cleaning your truck. Of course, most experienced truckers know how to detail their own truck. But the following information can serve as a helpful reminder, and introduce any new drivers to the importance of a clean truck.
1. Clear out Old Trash
Over a single trip, any number of things accumulate in the cabin. Trash means crumbs, stains, and even odd smells. Get rid of old chip bags, beef jerky wrappers, soda cans, and sandwich bags. Keep a trash bag in the cabin to keep things neat and tidy.
Remember not to wait until you’re done cleaning to clear out trash. Shaking out all those crumbs after you’ve cleaned and polished the truck will make a bigger mess than you started with.
First, remove any floor mats, then vacuum the floors and seats. Use a long vacuum attachment to clean the hard-to-reach areas around the pedals, between the seats, under the seats, and around the dashboard. Shake out the mats and replace them, then vacuum them thoroughly as well.
3. Clean the Dashboard
You can also use a soft brush attachment to delicately vacuum the dashboard. However, you should be careful not to damage any of the knobs or dials on the dashboard; be particularly gentle. If you’d rather not vacuum the dashboard (or if there isn’t enough dust on the dashboard to warrant it), use a gentle cleaner and soft cloth to clean it off.
Avoid cleaners or polishes that have a glossy or shiny finish. This can cause glare that interferes with driving. If you’re nervous about potential glare, use water instead of polish.
4. Remove Stains
If you find stains on the front seat’s upholstery, you’ll need to do more than vacuum. Use warm, soapy water to try to scrub out the stain. If that doesn’t work, invest in an upholstery cleaner. Perform a spot test to make sure the cleaner won’t further the damage. Then, apply the cleaning agent thoroughly and evenly across the stain. Read the cleaner’s instructions to find out how long you should let the cleaner sit, then scrub the area clean.
You can remove carpet stains with this same method. Always apply the cleaner evenly, and always let the stained area dry out as quickly as possible after you clean it. Leaving the area wet for too long can lead to mold.
You shouldn’t finish the floor mats with any kind of coating or dressing to prevent stains. These kinds of finishes can stick to the driver’s shoes, which makes them too slick to correctly work the pedals.
Remember that the sooner you remove a stain, the higher your chances are of getting it out for good. Keep upholstery cleaning supplies in your truck to take care of spills as soon as they happen.
5. Treat the Leather
Leather seats require different cleaning products than upholstered seats. Still, some of the same principles apply. For instance, you should always spot check any leather cleaning products to see if they’ll stain. You should also use a very soft, clean towel while cleaning to prevent scratching.
You can vacuum leather seats with the soft brush attachment, but be very gentle to avoid scratches. You can also apply a leather conditioner to protect the seats after cleaning them.
6. Replace the Air Filters
Unless the PM service facility replaces your truck’s cabin air filter regularly, you are breathing dirty, unfiltered air. The cabin can also fill with a musty, unhealthy smell. Different truck models have different instructions for replacing air filters, so follow the owner’s manual to clean or replace your truck’s unique cabin air filter.
7. Clean the Windows
Use a gentle window cleaner to clean the inside and outside of windows. While newspaper will remove stains better than cloth on most windows, avoid newspaper on any tinted windows. The newspaper is too abrasive and can remove the tinting. Use a soft cloth instead.
8. Make Cleaning a Priority
Now that you know the basic steps for cleaning a truck’s interior, it doesn’t seem so hard or time-consuming. Stick to a strict cleaning regimen. Take the time to clean out your truck’s interior after every major trip.
Even if you do your own cleaning, you should probably have your truck detailed by a specialist every once in a while.
Regular cleaning will save money in the long run and keep your “home away from home” a clean, comfortable and safe place. Apply these six steps today and give your truck the proper care it deserves.