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How to Clean a Sticky Dashboard? – DIY Solutions

How to Clean a Sticky Dashboard
Last Updated on Aug 16, 2023 By Lillian Kazmierczak

Nobody likes a sticky dash! We all try different methods to get it clean. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don’t (read – learn).

To make your life a little easier, here are some of the best ways that worked for us and we’re sure that will work for you too!

What Causes a Dashboard to Become Sticky?

What Causes a Dashboard to Become Sticky

Other than the accidental spills of your children or pets that are passengers in your car, you may also look at the age of your car or nicotine from smoking. Glues and build-up from cleaners and protectants as well.

Knowing what caused your dashboard to become sticky will help you to know how to clean it.

Things That Can Cause a Sticky Dashboard

  • Too much sunlight (heat)
  • Food spills
  • Chemical spills
  • Nicotine from smoking
  • Build-up from cleaners
  • Glues
  • Tape residue
  • The age of your car

A Quick Glance at the Reasons & Solutions

Causes Solution 1 Solution 2 Solution 3
Food Spills Vinegar & water solution Baking soda & water Soap & water solution
Chemical spills Vinegar & water solution Baking soda & water Soap & water solution
Tapes or glues Goo-gone Citric acid cleaners WD-40 & spray silicone
Leather Dashboards Leather conditioner or Mink oil Saddle soap Go-Jo

Start by Clearing Everything You Might Have On the Dashboard

  • Remove all objects from dashboard
  • Get some old clean cloths together (approximately 10)
  • Get a pan with soapy water
  • Remove all dust and loose dirt from the surface
  • Wash down the dashboard with soapy water
  • Dry the dashboard with one of your clean cloths

If Your Dashboard Is Still Sticky

  • Goo Gone
  • Cleaners containing citric acid
  • WD-40
  • Spray silicone
  • Go-Jo hand cleaner

If the dashboard is still sticky, you may need to purchase a cleaner called Goo Gone or any other citrus cleaner.

Citric acid from oranges is a great cleaner for stubborn sticky messes.

WD-40 can also be used to get that stubborn dashboard clean.

It works like another thing you could use in a sticky situation called spray silicone.

When you pull 2500 to 3000 socks up on to a plastic PVC pipe each day, that pipe gets sticky. The heat from the friction caused by the oily socks makes the pipe get a sticky film on it. This is the same as the sun on your shiny dashboard.

Go-jo hand cleaner is also a great cleaner for more than just your hands and is good at getting those sticky and stubborn messes to sparkle when done.

Emergency and Temporary Fixes

We have all had times where something on our cars have broken like the door to your glovebox or the emblem on the dash that says Ford.

As a temporary fix you may have to use glue or duct tape to hold it together until you can get the new part to fix it with. These glues or tapes leave a sticky residue behind when you take them off.

In these cases, any of the above cleaners should do the trick of removing this sticky residue from your dashboard.

How to Get Things Like Tape or Glue Residue off Your Dashboard?

How to Get Residue off Your Dashboard

  • Apply a heavy coat of the cleaning substance you choose to the dashboard with a cloth
  • Let the cleaner set on the dashboard for a few minutes. This allows it to lift the contaminate from the surface of the dashboard
  • Wipe the dashboard down with the cloth in which you applied the solution to it with.
  • Get a clean cloth and wipe the entire surface down with it
  • Use the soapy water to wipe down the dashboard again to remove excess cleaner and oils from the dashboard
  • Finally, use vinegar and baking soda diluted with water solution to repel dust and dirt


  • Alcohol or acetone are not good to clean vinyl or plastics with.
  • Alcohol will dry out your dashboard and cause it to crack overtime.
  • Acetone melts plastics and may cause them to become sticky.
  • These solutions are for metal, glass, or ceramics.
  • Also, you should wear gloves when cleaning with anything other than mild soapy water. This will not only keep your hands clean but will also protect your skin from harsh abrasives and cleaners that could cause you to have an allergic reaction.

Household Items to Clean Your Dashboard

  • You may try out household items such as vinegar and water to clean your dashboard with. They are also good for cleaning windows.
  • Lemon juice also works fine
  • Arm & Hammer baking soda is excellent for cleaning with. It’s not only good for that sticky dashboard but for cleaning your hair, teeth, and hands.
  • Finish with warm soapy water to remove excess cleaning solution and loosened debris.

What Can Be Used to Keep Your Dashboards Clean and Dust-Free?

The vinegar and baking soda you used to clean with may be used as a dust repellent. This will keep your clean dashboard free of dust and dirt in the future.

You can also wipe it down with fabric dryer sheets to repel that static electricity which causes dust to cling to surfaces.

If you have a chemical spill on your dashboard for some reason, the best thing to do is use vinegar. Then wipe with a cloth moistened in plain water. The vinegar serves as a neutralizer for most all chemicals.

Home remedies for repelling dust

  • Vinegar and water solution
  • Vinegar & baking soda & water
  • Baking soda and water
  • Dryer sheets (especially for your leather dashboard)

Leather Dashboards

This is all good for most all dashboard materials.

But what if your dashboard is made of or covered in leather? Yes, you could still use these solutions to clean it.

However, a leather conditioner, mink oil, or saddle soap would be more appropriate.

These cleaners would also ensure that the leather did not dry with water spots on it.

In time, the water spots can become permanent spots of discoloration on your dashboard.


Q. What is the best thing to clean a car dashboard?

Ans: Simple oil soap and water solution is the best cleaner. Castile soap can also do the job. Castile oil soap works gently on the leather dashboard and removes tough stains, helping you to clean your dashboard thoroughly.

Q. Is vinegar safe for the car interior?

Ans: Yes, you can use vinegar to clean your car’s interior. However, never use it as car shampoo or on car paint (no exterior use). Vinegar doesn’t have enough lubricating agent and the acid can dull your car’s paint.

Q. What is the best homemade car interior cleaner?

Ans: You can make cleaning solutions from simple home ingredients. Add 1 cup of warm water, 1 tbsp white vinegar, 2 tbsp baby oil/mineral oil, and 1 tsp dish soap together. Add some antibacterial oil like lemon juice, grapefruit, or tea tree to the solution.

About the author

Lillian Kazmierczak

As far as I can remember, I would say I have been a car nut for my whole life. My father was a car dealer who used to change and repair his cars himself. This gave me the opportunity to get around all sorts of cars and get my hands dirty repairing vehicles from an early age.

A great fan of Japanese quality and German preciosity, my deep passion lies in older models that I believe have a flair that takes me back to my childhood! I also love their extraordinary durability and reliability when compared to today’s modern models.

When not out taking a ride, I enjoy socializing with fellow motorheads online and consuming any car facts and figures I can get my mind on!

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