Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Interior Meltdown

Gentleman (and I use the term loosely)

My dear old 2000 New Beetle interior was kept very clean with occasional water mild detergent and Armour All. Alas, my daughter was not quite as compulsive, after two yrs of relative neglect, the plastic has turned into a STICKY MESS, and the car smells vaguely of hot crayons.

What to do ??? The car has less than 50K and I would like to continue to drive.

The plastic can be cleaned with just about any multi-purpose cleaner. If the seats are upholstered you can use . . . upholstery cleaner. Leather seats require leather cleaner, which is available at any auto parts store.

This isn’t rocket science, it’s just dirt.

I’d make the kid clean it or pay to have it detailed. Her choice.

A Bissel Green Machine is your best friend. My wife and I bought a 98 Windstar when our kids were 1 and 4. A few simple rules, i.e. no soda, juice or water only and no greasy foods to keep the stickiness to a minimum.

Once or twice a year I would use the Green Machine to clean the interior. When I sold the van in 2006, the interior looked as good as new. At least that’s what the buyer thought.

Ed B.

If your daughter has kids, then it most likely IS melted crayons you smell

I’d guess it was the waxy buildup from the Armor All, which is also the source of the stickiness. Step one is to get that gunk off (using advice already given in this thread) and then stop applying it - -it can actually damage the interior by drying materials out.

Another possibility:

Certain polyurethane foams and vinyls (the constituents of most car interiors) do not mix well/are damaged by Isopropyl Alcohol and/or other solvents. Did your daughter use any of that for interior cleaning/disinfection ?

The interior finish VW used at that time was not the best of materials. However about the worse thing you can do long term is the use of Amour All. Keep it clean, don’t try to find a product to keep it shinny, it is designed NOT to be shinny to cut reflections.

Armour All is junk. It is the source of the build up. Get rid of it and don’t use it ever again. If it gets on the plastic lens for the instument cluster it will etch the plastic and permanently damage it. Just bad stuff.

The sticky mess on the plastic parts is undoubtedly the result of a build-up of that Armor-All junk.
In addition to making parts too shiny, it leads to long-term problems with the plastic itself.

A cleaning (perhaps more than one) with plain soap and water will hopefully rid the plastic of that stuff that never should have been applied to it in the first place.

thank you all for your input. Couple of points:

  1. No young children or actual crayons in the car.
  2. Agree re the buildup is due to the product.
  3. Will try the soap and water route, to remove the residue, but haven’t had much luck.


IUf it were me I’d take it to a detailer. They have the equipment, cleaners, and expertise to get rid of this type of stuff.

Rather than Armour All, I use Windex (or similar type cleaner) on the interior plastic. Perhaps Windex with a hint of ammonia might cut through the build up. Since I don’t use Armour All, I’ve not had much experience in getting rid of it.