You can spend a lot of time in your car. Long road trips, mornings in heavy traffic and taking the kids to school. Don’t you deserve to sit in a decent motor that feels good? Remember how nice it is to get into a freshly made bed? Well, doesn’t it feel every bit as relaxing to lean back in a similarly nicely cleaned car cabin?
And we’re not talking about picking up the crisp packets and chocolate wrappers hiding in the footwells. We’re talking the kind of beauty that’s more than skin deep. If you want the kind of car that doesn’t just look, but feels and smells good as you travel round, then you need to think about the outside too. All that you need next then, are the tips to make that cleaning job fast and simple:
You sit on it, you eat on it, pets can jump on it – is it any wonder that upholstery can collect the dirt and smells – and then hold on to them?
Keeping pets, especially dogs, out of the main passenger compartment, means less pet hair on everything. Especially in shedding season. Want to get rid of hair quickly?
- Rubber gloves – are great for picking up and grabbing large swathes of hair. The rubbery texture sticks to the fine hairs, and allows you to pull them off the fabric.
- Spray bottle and squeegee – hit the pet hair with some clean, detergent-free water from the spray bottle, and then use the squeegee to rub it off the surface. The water will make the hair clump together, so it’s easier to remove.
Seat Covers and Carpet
There’s a lot of fabric in the car that can come into contact with human messiness. Keep it from looking and smelling bad:
- A sprinkle of baking soda – on the covers and carpet can help give you that little bit more cleaning power, to take down slight stains and whiffs.
- Vinegar and baking soda – made into a paste can help work out dirt you didn’t even know was there, and there’s a good chance it will take unpleasant smells out too.
Once supple leather can reclaim its glory days, with a little attention to all that dirt and crud that gets into those crevices:
- The toothbrush trick – but leave out the toothpaste in favour of baking soda. Little bristles make light work of the ground in particles, stuck in the cracks of your leather seats.
Where the rubber hits the feet. Muddy walks, rainy days, dusty runs in the park all conspire against pristine floor mats. But you can fight back:
- The overhaul treatment – is pulling out the mats and spraying them with serious stain removing cleaners, away from the car. Once the chemical magic has done its work, toss the mats in the washing machine, and they’re almost back to new.
Will be looking fantastic with these easy ways to maximise the clean, in the minimum amount of time:
With a little care and attention, you’ll always be driving in style:
- Believe it or not – help maintain the moisture in the dashboard material with a light application of olive oil. Over time, this won’t just clean, but also guards against cracking.
Prone to spills and picking up stains. Everything from coke to coffee can mix together and form a funky gunk at the bottom of the container.
- Catch the dirt – with a silicon cupcake liner. Once you’ve got rid of the dirt, save yourself from another tough job, by inserting the liner into the bottom of the recess. When its cleaning time, simply remove, wash and replace.
Whilst you might want to forget how much dust comes off the human body, the state of your vents will always help you remember. What’s your weapon of choice?
- Art, makeup or household paint brush? Any one will do to help you dig out and flush away the dust in the vents. Make sure you do this before you vacuum the carpets – of course.
Nooks and Crannies
The most annoying place to find dirt is in some kind of hidden or hard to reach corner. Especially if its been undiscovered for months, and now has become lodged in:
- No more decay – get rid of annoying interior grime with a toothbrush for the stuck on stuff, and a soft brush for the bigger bits of dry dust. Use the long handle plus a bit of pressure, and let time do the rest.
- Get the edge – needed to dig into those deep groves around sills and features. Wrap a thinner rag round the head of a screwdriver, and using enough gentle force, sneak into those gaps and wipe away the gunk.
Don’t you feel better when you’re looking good on the inside and the out? Now that you’ve conquered the cabin, it’s time to flip the script, and tackle the exterior.
Cutting a pathway through the darkness. On those lightless roads, it pays to have the full potential of your beams at your disposal:
- For a brighter white – from the toothbrush to the toothpaste. With just the right amount of this abrasive in a gel form – choose your flavour – this compound removes any outer dirt, when applied in gentle strokes with an old rag.
Car Tyres and Hubcaps
The shoes of the car. And like a good walking boot, you’re going to pick up mud, dirt and all kinds of filth. Get those tyres and hubs looking fresh, and you’ll be ready to take on the road:
- Caked in dirt – versus baking soda again. Three parts soda to one part water (or half a part vinegar, if you want the strong stuff) sponged onto the tyres, and gently worked, will give you a result that comes with a smile.
Keeping a clear view out of your windscreen is about more than surface good looks. It’s about getting a good look at the road. Use your wipers and spray regularly to stop dirt – but if you need a little helping hand:
- Surgical spirit or rubbing alcohol – is great to clean glass as it evaporates so quickly. Rub on the wipers to prevent smearing in the future. Use on the windscreen and wipe away all the dirt. Don’t use in an enclosed area.
- Try to see the other side – and clean the interior of the windscreen with a little shaving foam, which will remove dirt, and surprisingly help stop the glass from fogging in colder weather.
Give it the final touch. For a smooth, lustrous finish on the paintwork – try this:
- What condition is it in? Once you’ve finished the normal carwash process, slap on a little conditioner with lanolin in it on the bodywork and rub in. You won’t believe the results.
Bugs and Insects
Now your car is looking so fierce that insects are stopping in awe to gaze at its marvels, only to collide with the décor as you race into them at high speed on the motorway. Its easily dealt with however:
- Give the car a pre-wipe – with a dryer sheet over the most affected areas, before washing your car as normal. Lifting the dead bugs off with the sponge should be a matter of a simple brush rather than your usual five minute battle. Be aware of the other methods available too…
A Final Sweet Note
Yes, you can get away without deodorant, but doesn’t it feel nicer when you put it on before going out? Treat your car with a little fragrance as a final touch. Whether you want a Darth Vader style pine fresh dispenser that dangles from the wing mirror, or a little rose bottle that clips onto your air vent, we are most certainly not ones to judge.
And of course, if you have nothing to do on a Sunday and want to get the car completely blitzed, then how about an engine scrub?