Cars are expensive. You have to buy the vehicle, continuously supply it with gas and car insurance, and then take it in for routine maintenance and damage control. This costs an arm and a leg as it is, so don’t spend even more money on keeping your car clean too. Car washes are always an option, but even those can rack up the bills. Not to mention, they don’t include the inside of your car.
Instead of spending all of your cash of specialty solvents, wipes, and detergents, let us show you OUR Way of cleaning your car!
We already know that it gives your hair a sleek shine, but what about your car? It turns out, a regular hair conditioner is an excellent alternative for a wax and shine. Pour a generous amount onto a towel and apply it using circular wiping movements (Karate Kid style) until the car shines to your content.
Nothing is more unappealing than cleaning out the dead, dried up bugs that have smashed onto your bumper and windshield, and then stuck there for good. Well worry no more, we’ve got the solution, and it’s most likely already in your laundry room. All you need is a moist dryer sheet; rub it on the surface of your car where there are any bugs or debris, and they should come right off with ease.
Ready for the DIY windshield washing fluid? You can find half of the ingredients (of which there are only 2) in your liquor cabinet. All you need is some liquid Castile soap, and a high proof vodka (rubbing alcohol also works here, if you’re alcohol-free). Mix 1 part soap and 8 parts vodka and shake em up good. Then simply wash the windshield as normal, and watch how clean it gets. This will not only take some pressure off your wallet, but it will save you from breathing in the poisonous chemicals found in many pre-made windshield cleaners.
Even if you don’t have any birthdays coming up, it’s . good idea to keep a few balloons handy in your car. You can use a balloon to collect all of the tiny bits of dust and fluff from any interior surface. Just like that trick you used to do when you ere younger, rub the inflated balloon on your blouse or sweater, and create a static electric charge. The static will easily pick any fuzzies lurking in your car, that the vacuum might have missed.
If you happen to have leather seats instead of upholstery, you’ll need a different approach to cleaning them. that doesn’t mean a more expensive approach, however. Olive oil is your miracle cleaner in this case, as it is soft enough to wear it won’t damage or fade the leather, but it will also clean any stains and pick up any debris as you clean. Ue a small amount at first, and be sure to wipe everything clean with some water and gentle soap when you’ve finished.
Clear Nail Polish
We’ve all been victim of a cracked windshield, whether from a flying pebble or falling debris. Replacing a windshield is very expensive, and driving with a crack is dangerous, as it can keep growing bigger and bigger. If you do have a relatively small-to-medium crack in your windshield, you can use clear nail polish to seal it. This will protect both you from the elements, and your windshield from cracking even further.
Top Window Gunk
Here’s a handy tip: roll down your windows before you clean them, and wipe the top surface very well. If you miss this step, the accumulated gunk and debris sitting on the very top of the window will end up dripping down, and you’ll have cleaned the rest of your windows for nothing. Make sure to get the top surface, and the rubber in which the window sits when it’s closed. Then you can work your way from the top, downwards.
Screw Driver for Cracks
For some reason that we have yet to figure out, most car interiors are designed with tiny crevices and cracks that go along the doors, dashboard, and armrests throughout the car. It is near impossible to get into these crevices to clean them, but we’ve got another trick for you! All you need is a screw driver and a piece of fabric (felt works best). Just cover the head of the screwdriver with the fabric and lightly scrape along the creases and watch the dirt come out easily.
This one might seem a like an army punishment, but a good old tooth brush with some soap and water will definitely do the trick of cleaning your car. Especially for the parts that get a lot of attention, like an armrest or a steering wheel, a tooth brush’s bristles are small enough to get deep into the very pattern of your car. Just like brushing your teeth, scrub hard in circular motions, and watch the yellow color fade away.
After months of driving through every type of weather, your headlights will start to get cloudy, and a regular scrub just won’t take care of the problem. But do you know what will take care of it? Toothpaste! That’s right, just like with your pearly whites, a scrub with some toothpaste can do wonders for your car lights. Simply rub it onto the lights, scrub it in for a minute or two, and let it sit for another few minutes. When you rinse it, you’ll have shiny, clear headlights.
Maybe you got your first car when you were in college. So obviously you felt the need to let the world know what school you went to, who you were voting for, and which sports team was your favorite. Bumper stickers are fun, but they usually stick on tight, and are very tough to take off when you just want a plain old car again. Never fear though, you won’t have to live with that embarrassing bumper sticker forever. Simply spray some WD-40 on the sticker and around the edges, let it sit for a few minutes, and it will come right off.
It’s tough to get grease and oils off of any surface, much less windshield wipers, even with some of the best soaps and cleaning fluids. Your wipers tend to pick up all of the oils that hit your windshield and keep them their within their bristles, so it’s difficult to keep them clean. However, if you’ve got some rubbing alcohol in the house you can take care of this problem. Simple rub the alcohol up and down the wipers, and just let it dry there. It will break down the oils and you will no longer get windshield streaks.
After a few summers of blasting the AC in your car, you might notice an unpleasant smell coming for the air vents. Best way to take care of this? Replace the filter! Most likely you are smelling all of the smoke, dust, and debris collected by the filters. Filters are relatively cheap, and you can find them at any automotive store, even some superstores like Walmart will have them. Replace the filter in a matter of seconds, and you will, once again, have a fresh smelling car.
Owning a car comes with a lot of paperwork. Some of this includes stickers that must be present on your windshield, and renewed every year; these are usually difficult to get off if left on for years at a time. But no worries, there’s a trick for this as well! Al you need is a few layers of newspaper, soaked in warm water. Much like a temporary tattoo application, you hold the warm, wet newspaper on top of the sticker for about a minute, and the stick will fall right off.
The Magic Eraser is exactly as its name sounds, magic. It can take care of almost any type of stain, on almost any type of surface. Use a magic eraser to clean tough dirt spots on your steering wheel or arm rest, as well as to remove stains and spots from your upholstery. These babies are super handy in a tight spot, and work instantly, right out of the package. Be sure to keep a few of them in your glove compartment, for a quick stain fix.
When your skin gets dry, it needs a moisturizer. When your dashboard gets dry, it acts a lot like your skin and begins to crack. Especially if you live in a drier climate, it is important to keep your dashboard moist and clean, so that it doesn’t start cracking and peeling. Vaseline will do the trick on both your skin and your dashboard! Just rub a thin layer across your entire dashboard and let it soak in. The Vaseline also helps to collect dirt along the way.
Buying air fresheners is a total drag, since they are costly and tend to lose fragrance rather quickly. So why not make your own instead? You can save yourself the trip to the store, the money you’d spend on it, and you’ll be able to style it your own way. All you’ll need is a piece of wood (a wooden clothespin works great here, as it also can clip onto your car) and choose whatever essential oil you happen to enjoy the most. Lavender, Peppermint, Almond, the options are endless!
While they might be small, you air vents in your car collect a lot of dust, mold, and debris. And when you turn on the air, they blow it right back at you, which is not only very unhealthy, but also can smell up your car. Because the vents are so tiny, they can be very hard to clean. However, a small paintbrush could be the answer to your problem. A paint brush can act like a tiny duster for your vents, and clear away all of the gook piled up inside of the slits.
This isn’t so much of a hack, as it is a common sense option that most of us probably wouldn’t think of. A vacuum isn’t just for your indoor furniture. With the right size extension cord, you can bring it outside to your car. Using the hose with the brush attached will pick up and dust, dirt, and crumbs you might happen to have under the seats or the floor mats. It is a quick, free, and effective way of cleaning up almost the entire interior of your car.
If you have a pet (or anyone in your family with a lot of hair), you know how difficult is it to collect hairs that fly all over the place and stick to the upholstery. We’ve got a hack for you that will take care of stray hairs for good. All you need is a spray bottle of water and a squeegee. Just spray the hairy area with a fine mist, so that it becomes damp, not soaked. Then, just run the squeegee along the upholstery, and the wet hairs will stick to the squeegee, instead of to your car.
Children can bring you joy and happiness, but they also usually come with a messier car. Wax crayons are a common culprit of ruined upholstery, as the wax crumbles will melt right into the material on a hot day, then solidify within the fibers. To remove the wax, all you’ll need is a brown paper bag and a clothing iron. Place the paper bag over the wax, and iron the spot for about 15 seconds. The wax should transfer onto the wax paper. If it hasn’t, repeat the same process until it does.
It might seem counterintuitive to use oil to remove grease, but in this case, it works! If you’ve got grease or tar on the exterior of your car, rubbing the spot with some motor oil will do the trick of removing it. The oil actually acts as a solvent which will dissolve the grease and tar from your car. Start with a small amount and gradually add more oil if needed. It’s also important to wash it off as soon as possible so that it doesn’t start to erode your paint job.
Stain remover isn’t just for your clothing! If you have cloth upholstery in your car’s interior, you can use a stain remover in the same way you would for a clothing stain. Spray the stained area and scrub it with medium force for about a minute or two. Then let the stain remover sit and work its magic. If you happen to have cloth mats on the floor, you can use the stain remover and then stick them in with your next load of laundry.
Lint rollers are always a handy item to have around, especially in the car. They work like magic for a quick pick up of any cookie crumbs or pet hair that happened to have gotten stuff onto your upholstery. They are also fantastic for getting crumbs out of the nooks and crannies of children’s car seat. They can also be used to hard surfaces like your dashboard and even you air vents, to stick to any debris that might have floated into them.
Steel wool makes for a wonderful glass cleaner. It’s strong enough to remove anything sticky, but will not scratch or damage the glass. Simply rub the steel wool all across your windshield until all debris and dirt has been removed. When you’re done, give it a quick wipe with a soft cloth and some glass cleaner, and you’ll have yourself a shiny and polished windshield. Avoid using steel wool on rubber or plastic, as it will probably leave scratches.
Although it’s advertised as a glass cleaner, Windex is also fantastic at removing grease or lubricant from your car’s exterior. The ammonia in the cleaner will breakup and dissolve any grease that’s been stuck on your car. Even better, it is gentle enough that it won’t hurt your car’s paint, only the nasty grease that’s covering it. Windex also work well for cleaning any grease or lubricant off of your motor, again without harming anything.
Q-tips are the perfect solution for cleaning tiny cracks and openings in your car’s interior. They are cotton, which means they’re soft enough to not do any damage. Also, they are super cheap, and usually come with hundreds in a pack. They can remove dirt and dust, sop up any leftover cleaner, and even wipe away any grease trapped within the nooks and crannies of your car. It’s a good idea to have a few Q-tips around wherever you go.
A foam brush is a versatile tool that can be used in all sorts of car-cleaning related activities. Because it’s made of foam, it is soft enough for any surface of your car, from the exterior paint to the interior upholstery and everything in between. Dirt and debris will also stick to the foam quite easily. Because the foam is so soft, you can push it lightly into your air vents, and pick up all of the dust that’s been sitting there for ages.
A packet of powder cleaner is an excellent travel sized way to clean and detail your car on the go. Simply open the packet and pour the powder onto a soft, car-safe sponge. Then wet with water or even some lysol cleaning fluid, and scrub down your exterior and hub cabs. Be sure to check out which brands are best online.
Once you’ve cleaned your car thoroughly, you’ll want to keep it smelling fresh for as long as possible. Instead of spending money on throw-away air fresheners, try this instead. Take a mason jar and fill it with baking soda (absorbs all sorts of smells) and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Then, take a piece of breathable material (burlap or lace work well) and screw on the rim of the lib around to fabric, holding it in place. You can keep the jar in your cup holder.
Unless you have a really good storage system in your car, mostly likely you’ve shoved your phone, glasses, drink, house keys, EZ Pass, and whatever else in the cup holder or on the seat next to you. Instead of risking a car full of flying objects, just grab a few sticky mats, and stick them to your dashboard anywhere you want. You can stick your things there so they will be easily accessible and and will stay in one place.
Another excellent stain remover that you probably have in your home already is club soda. If you’ve got cloth upholstery, you know how easily it stains. Coffee, grass stains, blood, food, and more, can be easily removed with club soda. Simple dip a soft towel into a bowl of club soda, and gently rub out the stain. The longer the stin has been there, the more soda you will want to use.
Although it’s marketed as a beverage, Coca-Cola has an excellent reputation for removing rust from cars. If you have an accumulation of rust on your windshield or around the exterior of your car, simple take a soft cloth, dip it into a bowl of Coke, and wipe away the rust stains in a circular motion, until they fade away. Feel free to use as much Cola as needed, sometimes a generous amount is needed for full rust removal.
Here’s another food item that you might not think about when it comes to keeping your car clean: mayonnaise. If you have any sort of tar spot on your car’s exterior, simply grab a spoon full of mayonnaise and cover the entire spot with it. Let the mayo sit on the spot for 5-10 minutes. when you start to wipe it away, you’ll see that the the tar peels away super easily. And there you have it, tar spot, gone.
Clean Floor Mats Like a Pro
If your car includes fabric mats, you can use a stain remover to help loosen up difficult stains. After, load the mats into a washing machine and put it on “gentle” cycle mode and don’t forget to add some detergent.
Did you know that you can wash your car and wax it at the same time? All you need is a cup of kerosene in a bucket full of water. Using a sponge, wash you car as you normally would on all surfaces. Not only will this get your car nice and clean, but it will also leave a waxy coat on its surface, which will have all water, dirt, and oils beading up and falling off, instead of sticking to your exterior. Talk about a nice two-in one deal.
When it comes to absorbing spills, diapers arguably take the gold. So why not use them for more than just babies? If you have upholstery seats, any spill will soak in immediately, and can be super hard to clean. Next time, be prepared with a diaper or two in the glove compartment. If you do happen to spill your coffee on the seat, quickly grab a diaper and put the absorbent side right on top of the liquid. It will be soaked up in a matter of moments.
If there’s a leak in your fuel tank, it could be costing you a lot of money in wasted gas that seeps out through the cracks. But it’s also quite expensive to go and have a mechanic fix the problem. Instead of replacing your entire tank, you can just chew up some gum, and stick it onto the crack. Problem solved (at least for a little while).
Shoe Cup Holder
We know we know, this trick will not be for everybody, but it does work. If your car doesn’t come with a cup holder, or not enough cup holders, a sneaker will work as a great replacement. The bottom of the shoe will provide tread, so it won’t slip. Most standard sized drinks will fit right where your foots supposed to go.
Stickers, gum, and other types of sticky substances often get stuck on your car and are very difficult to remove. Instead of scrubbing at them for hours, just take a razor blade and (carefully) remove them. Simple stick the sharp edge of the blade underneath the spot and pry it away.
Vinegar works wonderfully as an all-purpose cleaner for your car. It is a great dissolving agent for sticky spots that are tough to remove. You can use it on your windows, your upholstery (not leather) and even the wheel and dashboard. Just take a soft towel, dip it in vinegar, and get to cleaning.
Lingering smells in your car can be masked by air fresheners, but they never really go away. Charcoal, however, has very strong absorbent properties. Take a handful of charcoal tablets and put the in a bag made up of breathable fabric. Stick them under your seats, and the smell will be gone.
Just One More Tip Left…
As we’ve just shown you, you can see that there are many ways to clean your car without having to take it into a garage and spend your hard earned money. Many household items work wonderfully (some even better than professional cleaners) to keep your car bright and shiny.
Mushy Cleaning Gunk
This one is by far our favorite tip. We call it: Mushy Cleaning Gunk. Simply mix a half cup of liquid starch (which is just a water and cornstarch slurry) with 4 ounces of Elmer’s glue and a ¼ cup of water. Mix this all together and you will come out with a slime-like substance. It’s sticky enough to pick up dirt and debris in even the most hard to reach places, but will still hold together and not break apart into pieces.
Remember that modeling clay you used to play with when you were young? Well who knew that it would serve an even more useful purpose in adulthood. If you want to give your car a nice, sparkly shine, you just take a bar of modeling clay (which ever color you choose), and simply wax your car the way you would normally. Make sure, however, that your car is wet first; best to do this after you’ve just washed it.