There are many things that are embarrassing in this world: tripping in public, accidentally calling your teacher “Mom,” and unexpectedly having to drive a friend around in your awfully filthy car. The combination of all the baseball game carpools, cross-country road trips, work commutes, and post-gym smoothie runs are bound to accumulate a lot of dirt, grime, trash, and odors. Want to make your car look — and smell — brand new? There's no need to spend a few hundred dollars at a professional vehicle detailer. You can easily freshen up your car yourself with only a few products and an hour out of your Saturday.
How to Clean Your Car Interior
1. Take Everything Out of the Car
Especially if you have kids, there can be a lot of hidden gems underneath seats and littering the floor. Thought you lost your left flip flop? Check under the back seat. Missing some coins from your wallet? Check under the back seat, you’ll probably find at least ten dollars in nickels and quarters. Can't find your phone charger? It’s probably under the back seat. It can be a little daunting to literally remove every item in the car, but it’s worth it to declutter and sort through items that shouldn’t be there.
2. Vacuum the Interior
Dirt, leaves, and crumbs still litter the floor even after clearing away trash. Simply vacuuming your car mats and seats every week will keep your car looking clean for much longer. You can take your car to the carwash and use their provided vacuums, use your personal machine, or even purchase a cordless vacuum. You can store this one in your trunk because it is compact and portable for easy cleanups. Most vacuums have smaller nozzle attachments so you can reach tight crevices like underneath seats, side compartments, and cup holders.
3. Wipe the Interior
There’s no need to deny it — we all eat and drive. There probably are greasy and sticky fingerprints on your steering wheel, windows, console, and seats. Use a microfiber cloth and an all-purpose spray to wipe down all the surfaces in the car. Your car seats are likely stained as well. You can use this car cleaner that is safe for both leather and fabric seats, or you can make a homemade solution of dish soap, vinegar, and warm water. Thoroughly dry the seats with a soft cloth so that the cleaner won't cause any further stains.
4. Wash the Exterior
Run your car through a commercial car wash or DIY car wash at home. Remember, dish soap is not a substitute for specially formulated car cleaner — it can erode the paint and strip the protective wax. You can purchase specifically designed soap that won’t damage the exterior coating.
Car experts recommend that you wash your car every two weeks to protect the paint from dirt damage — and simply to keep your car looking well-maintained. If you want to go the extra mile, purchase this car cleaning kit that includes a washing/wax, body protectant, tire foam, and glass wipes.
If you wash your vehicle yourself, not only will you have better results but you will also save a lot of money on commercial car washes. You can save well over thirty dollars each month by washing your car at home, which leaves more money to spend on air fresheners, bumper stickers, and Hula girls for your dashboard!
5. Make a Car Essentials Kit
How many times have you been driving and realized you really needed lip balm or hand wipes but didn’t have any? Gone are those days if you make an essentials kit for your car.
Fill a large makeup bag or clear Sterilite bin with tissues, deodorant, mints, floss, a small hairbrush, a first-aid kit, and lotion. Anytime you realize you have food stuck in your teeth or have frizzy flyaways, this kit will come to the rescue!
How to Clean Baby Car Seats
If you have kids, you know just how DIRTY their car seats get. Not only are they covered in Goldfish crumbs and lost fruit snacks but they’re also sticky, grimy, and likely coated in boogers. Yuck!
First, vacuum up the crumbs and bits of food on the seat. Next, mix a solution of dish soap, vinegar, and warm water in a bucket. Dip a scrubbing brush in the cleaner and scrub away at the fabric and use a wrung-out cloth on any plastic or metal hardware. Let the cleaner dry for at least 24 hours, then return to the car. Some baby car seats have a removable fabric lining that is machine washable, so you can just wash it between loads of clothes and linens.
How to KEEP Your Car Interior Clean
Give it one afternoon of running errands and dropping off kids, and your car is bound to become messy again. You’ve spent so much time cleaning out your car, so you should enjoy it for weeks to come.
1. Never Leave Your Car Empty-Handed
It’s too easy to leave fast-food soda cups and gum wrappers in your car for several days. Trash is the biggest contributor to a messy car so make a habit to pick up a couple of pieces of trash every time you leave your car. Instead of texting at the gas pump, do a quick cleanup of your car and throw away any garbage. Do the same anytime you run into a store or head into work. Remember to grab your purse and sunglasses, but also toss a handful of wrappers in the garbage on your way inside. This will keep your car much more enjoyable to drive around in!
2. Buy a Car Trash Can
If you can’t get in the habit of throwing away trash every time you leave your car, investing in a small car trash can will corral the mess. Instead of tucking wrappers and tissues into cupholders or throwing them on the floor, hide them away in this trash can, which hooks onto the back of the middle console or front seat.
3. Store a PhoneSoap Go in the Glove Box
How can you keep germs from spreading into your clean car from the phone, keys, and sunglasses that you just took with you into the grocery store? The PhoneSoap Go is a battery-powered sanitizer box that can kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria in just 10 minutes. When we’re out in public, we touch shopping cart handles, railings, check-out counters, and door handles — then we type away on our phone. That’s why our phone screens can harbor up to 18x more bacteria than a public restroom! After your next outing, sanitize your phone in the PhoneSoap Go as soon as you get in the car to limit the spread of sickness-causing germs.
4. A Car that Smells Good is a Clean Car
The inside of your car may smell like a nauseating mix of sweaty feet, drive-through cheeseburgers, wet dog, and dirty diapers. This car freshener attaches to your air vents so anytime you switch on the air conditioning or the heat, a refreshing fragrance will blast throughout the interior. It will mask any unpleasant smells, giving your car the illusion that it has been freshly detailed.
Making some effort to maintain your car will keep it looking tidy and fresh for weeks on end. Having a clean car will greatly reduce the stress of driving around all day because it will be a much more pleasant and enjoyable ride!