Does your car look like the site of an industrial accident?
You keep thinking about swinging by the local car wash and spending a few hours clearing out fast food wrappers, dirt, and miscellaneous toys, but somehow, you never pull the trigger. Maybe that’s because you’re never quite satisfied with the results—somehow, your vehicle never looks as clean as the day you pulled out of the dealership.
Well, it’s time to get to work. These car-cleaning hacks are amazing, and since they rely on common household products, you don’t need to break the bank to try them out.
1. Get rid of dust, dirt, and pet hair on your car seats.
You’ll need a squeegee—or if you don’t have one handy, a moderately thick latex glove.
Spray a fine mist of water on your seats, then use the squeegee (or glove) to draw the hair together. The water makes the hair and dirt a bit more pliable, while the squeegee is able to pull the hair without sticking to it. Incidentally, this also works on furniture.
2. Get that chrome shining bright with white vinegar and water.
Simply mix equal parts of each ingredient to make an effective, streak-free cleaner. It also works extremely well on windows, and when the vinegar dries, it doesn’t leave behind any unpleasant odor.
This works, by the way, because the vinegar is a mild acid. Acids can break down organic compounds—in this case, the dirt and grime. Be sure to use a microfiber cloth to avoid lint; if you don’t have a microfiber cloth, you can also use newspaper (no, seriously).
3. Use a paintbrush to get into the vents and around the knobs.
Foam paint brushes work best; apply a bit of your favorite cleanser, then go to town.
While we’re on the subject, vinegar and water work well for most car cleaning, but if you’re working with leather, you’ll definitely want to spot test to make sure that you don’t accidentally damage the material.
4. Olive oil can really make your dashboard shine.
Literally. Apply a small amount, then rub the olive oil with a cloth. You can let it sit for a few minutes but go over with another clean cloth afterward to avoid leaving too much oil on the dash. Otherwise, the oil can go rancid, which…well, let’s just say it doesn’t smell great.
5. Don’t forget to clean the windshield wiper blades.
Otherwise, you’ll end up with streaks on the glass—an annoying issue if it happens to rain right after you’ve finished cleaning.
You can either clean the blades with ammonia (use 1 part ammonia to 4 parts water) or you can use rubbing alcohol. While you’re cleaning, check for torn bits and replace your wipers if necessary.
6. If your headlights appear dim, you can clean them with toothpaste.
Toothpaste is an abrasive substance, so it can bring the shine back. Just be careful not to rub the toothpaste on your car’s paint.
If you don’t have toothpaste handy (ew, gross), you can also get a similar effect with window cleaner and some pantyhose.