by Amy Mattinat
You spend so much time in your car it sometimes feels like you live in it. Do you eat in it, read books by listening to them on CD, catch up on phone calls? Do you carry around your sports equipment, extra clothes, make-up and children? If you answered yes to most of these questions, then I bet your car looks pretty messy after only a couple of weeks.
It’s a good idea to take some time once a month to open the windows, doors and trunk of your car and do some spring cleaning. Let in the fresh air! Clear out all the debris from the floor. Get rid of what’s buried in the seats, tucked in the ashtray and thrown in the back or in the truck.
Once you have cleared the decks, pull out the floor mats and set them aside on the driveway. Before you vacuum the interior carpets, take a stiff brush and sweep the floor to loose the dirt and debris clinging to the carpets. You may want to alternate between the vacuum and stiff brush to get all those little stones that hide in the nap of the carpets. When vacuuming the seats, make note of any stains. I will give you some special stain removing tips at the end of this article.
Use the long neck attachment of the vacuum to reach under the seats, between the seats and around the pedals. Use a soft brush attachment to vacuum the dashboard and doors. Be gentle on any knobs, vents and stereo parts. Be especially careful if you have leather seats. They can be easily scratched by using the wrong attachment when vacuuming.
Once the whole inside of the car has been vacuumed, it’s time to tackle the floor mats. Start out by shaking out as much of the loose dirt, dust and salt as possible. Then vacuum them thoroughly. If you really want to get them clean, power-wash them with the garden hose. You can add carpet cleaner to stains, work it in with a brush, and then wash it out. Make sure your mats are completely dry before you put them back into the car.
I like to wash the windows next. Use any alcohol-based glass cleaner. If you use a paper towel to clean the window and wipe the solution around, use a newspaper to dry the window. You will get crystal clear windows every time!
Clean the dashboard, console, door handles, etc. with a
slightly damp cloth. (Always use lint-free material when cleaning your
car!) You can use a very small amount of laundry detergent to remove
any stains. Rinse well and then dry with a clean, soft cloth. If you
want your dashboard to shine, apply a small amount of furniture polish
to a clean cloth and wipe away. (Do not spray directly onto the dash or
it will splash on your clean windows and be difficult to remove.)
To clean out those hard-to-reach cracks and crevices like vents and buttons, use a cotton swab or a mini paintbrush. You know your car is really clean when the vents are sparkling!
Getting rid of those annoying stains is the key to making your car look new again. The sooner you attack the stain, the more likely it will disappear.
• Hot water will cause the stain to set. Be sure to use cold or room temperature water.
• None of these tips apply to leather seats. Some soaps, oils, detergents and furniture polish can do damage to leather!
• Before using any soaps or mixtures to remove a stain, test it on a small out of the way spot to make sure it doesn’t bleach or stain the material.
• Do not soak the carpets or seats with soapy water. You could make the stain larger and cause mold and musty smells to inhabit your car.
For quick stain removal on cloth seats: Scrape away any residual gunk with a blunt knife. Mix together 2/3 cup water and1/3 cup white household vinegar. Wipe the stain away with a damp sponge and let dry.
Or use mild soap and water. Let sit for 15 minutes, then wipe again with a damp sponge and let dry.
For soft drink stains: Dab up any remaining liquid. Put 3 cups water and ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. Spray mixture on the soft drink stain and let sit for 10 minutes. Mix together ¾ cup cold water and ¼ cup white vinegar and use this to rinse. Dab the stain away with a damp sponge and let dry.
To remove Chocolate stains: Once the chocolate has dried and hardened, scrape off as much as you can with a blunt knife. Put a small amount of carpet shampoo on the stain and use a soft-bristled brush to gently work the soap into the fabric. Dab the foam and stain away with a damp sponge and let dry.
To remove gum from your car seat: The first thing you want to do is harden the sticky mess. If you put some ice in a plastic bag and apply it to the gum, it will harden quickly. You can then gently scrape it off the seat with a dull knife.
For Greasy Stains like lipstick or crayons you may need some extra help. Purchase a solvent cleaner and make sure you read the instructions carefully.
You spend so much time in the car that keeping the interior clean is good for your health and your mental attitude. Plus, as a bonus it will increase the value of your car when you’re ready to sell it or trade-it-in.
Author of “How To Buy A Great Used Car”