Assuming that you’re a car owner, you’d probably know by now that detailing it can be really costly. Apart from being pricey, it isn’t always the simplest task to do either. Such circumstances can really tempt you into purchasing those expensive products available in the car department stores.
Yes, it may get the job done, but professionals won’t reveal to you that it can actually be done easily in the comfort of your own home. And inexpensively, at that! For your benefit, we’ve listed all these proven and tested car cleaning hacks to take pleasure in. We hope you enjoy these trade secrets as much as we do!
Use Essential Oils For A Natural Aroma
Instead of shelling out all that cash on those pricey car fresheners, just grab any essential oil and place a few drops on a clothespin or sachet in the vent and voila! You have your own little homemade air freshener!
We bet you didn’t think these simple things could be so handy, right?
Replace Air Filters Regularly
If you want to keep your vehicle smelling fresh and free of any allergens, make sure you replace your in-cabin air filters, as it could accumulate dust, eventually creating foul odors.
This just might save you the next time you accidentally leave some food around. A simple task to keep the good aroma flowing.
Apply Vaseline to the Interior For a Brilliant Shine
If you’re trying to achieve that glossy interior finish, some old-fashioned petroleum jelly is here to save the day.
Apply some of the vaseline to the interior and dashboard of your car and you’ll achieve the same look when using Armor All. The only difference is you’ll be saving some good money. Such a simple but effective little hack!
Use Charcoal to Absorb Foul Odors
Did you know charcoal had purposes other than being used for fuel? It can actually be used to absorb odors and toxins in gases, such as air.
Just place a few pieces of charcoal under your seat and it will slowly rid your vehicle of those stubborn smells that you thought couldn’t be eliminated. This home remedy is indeed nature’s little toxin absorber. You’re welcome!
Make Cheap Car Wash Solution With Everyday Ingredients
If you’re looking for an inexpensive car wash solution, all you need is already in your own home.
Just grab a one-quarter spoonful of baking soda and mix it with a one-quarter spoonful of liquid detergent into a bucket of water and you're done. You have yourself that extra homemade option just in case you run out of car wash solution.
Clean the Air Vents
In order to completely get rid of all that unwanted dust accumulation sitting in your car’s air vent slats, just search your home for an old paintbrush, toothbrush, or a can of compressed air.
This is a simple way of thoroughly cleaning your vents out.
Keep Leather Upholstery Fresh With Vinegar and Linseed Oil
If you wish to keep your vehicle’s upholstery speckless and moisturized, make sure you regularly wipe down your leather seats with a solution of linseed oil and vinegar.
This should keep your seats looking as good as new!
Scrub Rubber Mats
To properly clean those rubber mats, all you need is a soap solution and a stiff-bristled brush.
If you’re having trouble removing the tough stains, let the mats soak and sit in the sun for at least fifteen minutes before you start rinsing. This should spare you the embarrassment of having dirty mats when your friends hitch a ride with you.
Use a Squeegee to Remove Pet Hair
Though we all love bringing our pets along with us, their hair can be pretty tough to remove from the cloth upholstery.
Fortunately, to remove the hair quickly, all you have to do is lightly spray those seats with water and rub them with a rubber squeegee. No need to worry about bringing along your furry friends anymore.
Remove Grease and Oil Stains With Cornstarch
If you have some affected areas in your car from grease or oil, apply cornstarch on the leather and cloth upholstery, let it sit for about ten minutes, and the starch should eventually soak up the stain.
This should help if you ever accidentally spill some food or drinks in the car.
Clean Your Windows Thoroughly
If you want your windows to be completely spotless, remove some of the grime from the top edge of the pane by partially rolling down your window.
It may take multiple passes to remove all that gunk, but it’s worth your time. After all, you need those clean windows for your own safety.
Remove Tough Stains With Club Soda
Got a little blood or some red wine stains in your car? Don’t freak out just yet, because with a little application of some club soda, you can easily remove them.
Just let it sit for a couple of minutes, then sponge it up with a towel. Next time, you probably should just pass on opening a bottle of wine in the car.
Remove Baked-On Stains With Mayonnaise
Believe it or not, with a little bit of mayonnaise, you can eliminate those hard-to-remove stains from your vehicle. Yes, mayonnaise!
All you have to do is let the mayonnaise sit for five to ten minutes before wiping it off with a clean rag. Make sure you wash it off completely before your car starts to smell like mayonnaise, though.
Use Vinegar to Boost Cleaning Solution
With just a few tablespoons of vinegar, you can boost the effectivity of any cleaning solutions immensely.
This trick would be safe on vinyl upholstery and windows.
Use a Razor Blade to Remove Stains And Decals
If you’re looking for a solution to removing those baked-on stains, stuck-on stickers, or decals, without the residue, you can remove them with a razor blade.
Just remember that you have to have patience. It should pay off when you see it all cleared up.
Use a Screwdriver to Clean Small Spaces
It can be pretty tough to remove dust and grime in those small holes and grooves.
To make things easier, you can simply use a screwdriver covered with a soft cloth to clean it out.
Use Nail Polish to Prevent Hairline Cracks from Spreading
In order to temporarily stop a hairline crack from developing into the windshield or body of a car, all you need to do is apply some nail polish to the afflicted area.
Just make sure to be quick on your toes when that happens.
Use Q-Tips to Clean Hard-To-Reach Places
Another tip when cleaning those small spaces is to simply use a Q-tip.
Cotton swabs can definitely help you reach those narrow spaces and corners. This should work especially well when cleaning around the dashboard.
Use Thermal Paper to Remove Crayon from Upholstery
Did some kids make a mess in your car again? If you ever have to deal with their crayon stains, just iron a thermal sheet on the spot to remove them from the upholstery or the car carpet.
You won’t have to worry so much about their playtime in your car anymore.
Remove Sticky Stains With a Magic Eraser
Spilled some drinks? All you have to do is dip a Magic Eraser into some Lysol to scrub out those sticky spill stains from vinyl and acrylic surfaces in your car’s interior.
This should spare you from getting in contact with those icky areas.
Use Sticky Mats to Keep Items from Rolling Around the Car
We don’t encourage using phones or gadgets while driving, but if you need to securely place them somewhere, a sticky mat stuck to the dashboard should do the trick.
A sticky mat like this should lessen the times they roll around the dashboard.
Apply Coca-Cola to Rust Stains
Though we all would rather consume a refreshing drink of Coca-Cola, you could also use it to break down any rust stains. All you need to do is apply the soda to a cloth and rub around the stains in a circular motion.
Don’t use this trick on paint, though! You’re better off with a paint remover for that.
Stop Leaks With a Mint
In order to stop a leak that starts in the engine bay, just simply use a wad of gum or a half-chewed mint to block it out until you have the time to bring it to the repair shop.
This would be the perfect short-term solution to the problem.
Re-purpose Ashtrays as Phone Docks
If you’re not a smoker, you could always use those car ashtrays as a phone dock to avoid having them roll around the car while driving.
This should help you when you need to navigate as well.
Use a Clean Diaper to Soak Up Spills
Since diapers have the purpose of being super absorbent, you can actually use them to soak up a spill before it stains your upholstery.
If you don’t have a baby, just ask your friends or family if they have some extra ones to share, even if it sounds a bit ridiculous.
De-Ice Stuck Doors and Locks With Hand Sanitizer
If you’re having some ice troubles during the winter, you can actually use some hand sanitizer. The high alcohol content should be able to quickly melt the ice from stuck locks and doors.
It’s recommended that you use the gel solution over liquid alcohol. This is a great little hack in preparing for the winter season.
Use Dampened Newspaper to Remove Old Registration Stickers
Having trouble removing that stack of registration stickers on your car plate? Easily remove those old stickers by leaving a dampened newspaper on them for around ten minutes before you peel it off.
Out with the old, in with the new.
Clean Windows With White Vinegar
When cleaning windows, we recommend using a solution of white vinegar in a spray bottle. You can achieve spotless windows if you wipe this off with newspaper rather than using a towel.
This helps avoid lint residue. Hooray for better visibility!
Use a Clay Bar to Remove Stubborn Grease Stains
When you’re having trouble removing some grime and grease stains, just simply apply a clay bar to easily lift them off.
You can follow it up with wax and buff to smooth out the paint.
Use Wet Dryer Sheets to Remove Bug Stains
You’d probably agree that nobody wants to see those old, dried up bugs on your window, right?
To remove those stains, just use a wet dryer sheet and scrub the area until it comes off. Time to remove all those little critters.
Use a Shoe as a Cup Holder to Avoid Spills
There are older cars that have ineffective cup holders that really don’t do their job.
If you aren’t too picky about your car’s presentation, use a clean shoe to hold your drinks and avoid those messy spills. It may look silly, but it does get the job done!
Spray WD-40 On Stubborn Stickers and Decals
Another trick to remove those stuck-on decals and stickers with ease is spritzing on some WD-40. Just let it sit on them for about ten minutes, then you can quickly scrape them off with a cloth.
If the cloth doesn’t remove the residue right away, it may need to be sprayed a second time.
Make A Homemade Wiper Blade Cleaning Solution
When cleaning your windshield, you might prefer a highly effective homemade windshield wiper blade cleaning solution.
Instead of spending on a new solution, all you need to do is mix ammonia and cold water with a ratio of .21:1. No need for that extra trip to the car shop.
Use Rubbing Alcohol to Clean Wiper Blades
You might want to avoid using your windshield if there is still some residue. This can cause ineffective wiping or some streaks across your windshield.
To combat this, simply use a ball of cotton dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove all that residue. This should ensure a smooth, fluid movement.
Wash Car With Baby Shampoo To Remove Stains
Coming home from a road trip, you might notice all those caked-on stains that came from all the mud, grease, or bird filth you drove on.
You can quickly remove these stains by pouring on some baby shampoo onto a wet rag and rubbing around the stain in a circular motion. This should get your car looking as good as new.
Use Lanolin-Based Hair Conditioner For A Glossy Finish
Though they instantly make your car look glossy, wax and buffing finishes can be pretty pricey and time-consuming.
An easy way to achieve the same effect is to apply a lanolin-based hair conditioner to your freshly washed car. As the lanolin rests, it works to absorb all the moisture from the air, too.
Fill Windshield Wiper Reservoir With Vodka Solution
Didn’t finish that bottle of vodka over the weekend? Put it to good use by mixing three cups of it with four cups of water and two tablespoons of liquid detergent.
Pour this mix in the windshield wiper reservoir and you can easily achieve a streak-free finish. A clean wiper is far better and safer than a drunken night out.
Use Toothpaste to Clean Cloudy Headlights
Spare yourself the extra expense on headlight cleaning kits by simply using some regular toothpaste. Clear up all that cloudiness by just letting it sit before buffing it off.
This is just another hack that you can achieve at the comfort of your own home. Quick, easy, and cheap.
Protect Vinyl Surfaces With Lemon Juice and Olive Oil
If you don’t take good care of your vinyl upholstery and hard surfaces in your vehicle, they can be easily open to cracking.
In order to avoid this and keep them shiny and safe, just use a mix in a solution of olive oil and lemon juice. Afterward, you can gently massage the surface with a dampened cloth.
Use Bleach to Get Shining Black Tires
You can create your own inexpensive tire-cleaning solution with the use of everyday detergent and bleach.
There’s absolutely no need for you to spend on the ones available at the car shops. Just mix this solution into warm water and you'll have squeaky clean tires again.
Get Streak-Free Windows With Alcohol And Vinegar
You can create your own super effective cleaning liquid by mixing in alcohol and vinegar with water in a 1.25 to 1 and 1.5 to 1 ratio respectively.
This easily gives you a miracle cleaning solution for your glass and windows! If there are highly resistant spots, just try rubbing hard on them with a cloth dipped in undiluted vinegar.
Keep Baby Wipes Handy for Regular Clean-Up
Make it a habit to keep a pack of baby wipes in your car. Using them regularly to wipe down surfaces can effectively avoid any dust and dirt accumulation.
This a great little way of maintaining your car’s cleanliness.
Make Sticky Slime at Home to Remove Dust and Dirt
If you need to grab some dirt and dust off your interior surfaces, you can use some homemade sticky slime made with a mixture of liquid starch, water, and glue.
This should give you an all-purpose cleaning slime in minutes. Although, you might get distracted and start playing with it instead of cleaning.
Use Olive Oil to Keep Leather Upholstery Like New
To keep your upholstery looking as good as new, just rub a small amount of olive oil into it after washing off the dirt and grime with warm and soapy water.
This should break up the dirt and stains while conditioning the leather as well.
Use Kerosene for a Cheap Glossy Finish
If you’re looking for another alternative in attaining that glossy finish to your interior, just mix some kerosene with water and wipe this solution on your dry car to achieve that beautiful shine.
It doesn't harm the paint either.
Remove Burn Stains With a Raw Onion
You might want to use this trick if you’re looking into selling your car in the future. Remove those burn stains on leather or vinyl by applying a raw cut onion to the area.
Just allow it to soak in for a bit before blotting it with warm water. This will effectively reduce the visibility of those stains! Your car will be on the market in no time.
Use a Toothbrush to Clean Small Spaces
With the simple use of a toothbrush dipped in some soapy water, you can effectively scrub away any dirt and dust on vinyl upholstery.
We recommend you do this before the gunk gets caked in the cracks of your seats. This should save you the time of repeatedly scraping them out.
Hide Dryer Sheets for a Continual Fresh Aroma
Use those extra dryer sheets around various strategic locations in your car to keep that good aroma. These sheets should continue to emit fragrance for 1 to 3 months, varying by the climate.
Just allow it to sit on your cloth upholstery and mats before blotting it with a dampened rag. The stain should be gone in no time.
Clean Tough Stains With Hydrogen Peroxide
Another easy solution in removing those tough stains, such as blood, grass, or wine, is applying some hydrogen peroxide.
A liberal application of hydrogen peroxide can remove even the toughest stains, such as blood, wine, and grass, from cloth upholstery and mats. Allow it to sit before blotting with a damp rag.
The simplest way of saving money is to always be disciplined in thoroughly and regularly cleaning your car. Make sure you clean out the trash every day, pull out all the mats, and wipe down or vacuum all the surfaces.
It’s ultimately up to you to be responsible for your car’s condition. Keep up those good cleaning habits and your car will always seem as good as new.
Dust Your Air Vents with a Makeup Brush
There’s nothing worse than turning on the air conditioning in your car and having a wave of dust blow over you. A car’s air vents get dusty with time, and it’s important to clean them out, not only because you don’t want dust to blow in your face or all over the car every time you turn them on, but because it keeps them running better.
So, next time you get in your car, grab a new or used makeup brush (obviously washing it out if it's used) and use it to dust your air vents before you turn the car on. The brush’s hairs reach all the vents crevices and are perfect for cleaning them out.
Use Cupcake Liners for Your Cupholders
Cupholders are probably one of the dirtiest places in a car. They accumulate the remains of different drinks over time and inevitably serve as the place where you put everything you don’t immediately know where to throw in the car.
So, cupholders are usually very dirty with junk and gunk. But there’s an easy and practical fix! You can clean your cupholders and place silicone cupcake liners in them, so next time you go clean the car, simply take out the liners, rinse them quickly and place them back in.
Make Air Freshener with Laundry Balls and a Jar
You can make your own car air freshener by using laundry scent balls and an empty mason jar. You’re probably familiar with the laundry scent balls you can throw into your dryer or washer with your clothes.
Well, you can look for an empty mason jar that you’re no longer using, fill half of the jar with laundry scent balls, and open a few holes in the jar’s lid. Presto! The balls won’t come out of the jar and they’ll keep your car smelling fresh.
Use Alcohol for Windshield Smudges
Often when we clean with a car’s windshield wipers, they leave are smears and smudges on the glass. To avoid this, make sure to rub down your wipers with alcohol before you use them.
This will prevent them from leaving marks on the windshield, making sure you have a clear, 20/20 vision.
Make a Trash Can with a Cereal Container
Grab a plastic cereal container from any kitchen or storage store (e.g. The Container Store, Crate & Barrell, etc.), line it with a regular grocery bag and use it as a portable trash can for your car.
Simple and easy, and it will definitely help keep your car cleaner.
Make Your Own Washer Fluid
You should always carry a bottle of washer fluid in your car, but it’s one of those things that we often overlook, and never remember to replace when we finish the bottle. Next time you’re in need of some washer fluid, but don’t have time to stop and buy, or you aren’t close to any car shop, you can just make your own.
Mix 3 cups of grain alcohol, 2 teaspoons of dish-washing soap and 4 cups of water, shake well and place in an empty bottle. Keep the bottle in your car and simply make more whenever you need it.
Use a Vacuum and a Brush
Dust is especially annoying to clean when it comes to your car because it accumulates everywhere, and dusting just transports the dust from crevices, vents, and other places, to the floor in your car. And, we’re back to square one; now you need to get rid of the dust. However, it is very easy to avoid this.
Simply grab your vacuum cleaner’s hand-held attachment and hold it next to the brush as you dust. The dirt will immediately be removed by the vacuum.
Baking Soda is the Best Way to Take Out a Smell
There’s nothing worse than when a smell takes over your car. Smells are absorbed by seats and carpets, and some are especially difficult to take out. Even if you’re a clean freak, you’re bound to encounter this problem at some point. Whether it’s getting in the car after a gym workout, picking up kids from soccer practice, driving your friend that smokes, etc.
There’s a simple solution to this: baking soda. Go to your kitchen, grab some baking soda and sprinkle it over your seats and carpets. Let it sit for a couple of hours, pass the vacuum to clean the remains, and presto, your car will be smelling brand new.
Use Steel Wool to Clean Your Windshield
We know this sounds like bad advice, and you’re probably thinking who in their right mind would use steel wool to clean glass. But, as it turns out, the windshield glass is very strong and thick and doesn’t scratch easily.
So, next time you need to properly clean your windshield, use a steel wool sponge to scrub off the glass. You will never see a clearer looking glass.
Use a Sock, a Travel Cup and Windex for Your Cup-holders
Before you take our advice on using silicone cupcake liners for your cupholders, as we mentioned above, make sure you properly clean out the actual cupholders.
Get a travel cup, cover it with an old sock from the bottom up, and spray some Windex on it. Place the cup in the cupholder and twist a few times. You’ll get every last piece of dirt out.
Wooden Clothes Pin and Essential Oils Make for a Great Car Freshener
We always want our car to smell clean and fresh, but it’s not always easy since some of us use our car all day long. So how do you keep it smelling nice? Sprays don’t last, and car fresheners have too strong a smell, and, often, not a very good one. But there’s an easy, cheap and fast way to solve this.
Grab a wooden clothespin, soak it in an essential oil of your choice, and pin it in your car’s air vents.
Cleaning Your Car’s Floor Mats
A car’s floor mats are always disgusting. Even if you’re a regular visitor of the car cleaners, floor mats will always get dirty, and sometimes, going to a car cleaner every time gets annoying and expensive. There’s a simple cleaning hack to help with this.
Grab your floor mats, spray them with stain remover liquid, and throw them in your washing machine with regular clothes detergent. Set the machine’s cycle to the gentlest setting, and you’re good to go.
Use Pam Cooking Spray to Remove Bumper Bugs
If you’ve ever been driving on a hot summer day, you know what it’s like to see a giant cloud of bugs in the middle of the road, and you definitely know that what follows is having them all stuck to your bumper once you run them over with the car. Obviously, you can’t cause a road accident to avoid them. So, what do you do?
The best and easiest way to clean them with one swift movement is by spraying Pam cooking oil over your bumper and wiping it off with a cloth.
Use Vinegar to Clean and Avoid Salt Buildup
If you live in a place where there is constant salt buildup on the roads because of snow, this can be very damaging for your car’s bodywork in the long run. And by damaging we mean it’ll slowly melt away your car from underneath, so this is something you should stay on top of.
To avoid this, next time it snows, mix water and vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the bottom part of your car with it. It'll melt the salt right off.
Avoid a Sticky Mess by Using an Iron
It is unavoidable for sticky messes to happen in your car – your kid drops a gummy bear and the sun melts it into the fabric, a friend drops a piece of gum in the seat, you sit on a bug and it goes all over your seat fabric, etc. The possibilities are endless, and the solutions not so obvious. But don’t worry, next time this happens, and you want to cry because you think your car is doomed, grab an iron, a thick piece of paper, and some patience.
Place the paper over the mess and iron over it for 30 seconds. Whatever it is, it’ll attach straight onto the paper and out of your car.
Remove Pet Hair with Rubber Gloves
Whether you’re an animal lover or have friends and family members that are, this hack will surely come in handy. You don’t want to be the one to refuse a ride to our furry friends, but you also don’t want pet hair all over your car seats. And usually, pet hair finds a way to get everywhere. The best solution for this is to put on a rubber glove, like the ones you would usually use for washing dishes or cleaning the house and wipe it over your car’s upholstery.
The gloves will pick up every last hair and leave your car looking brand new.
Use Slime or Goo
If you were born in the 80s or 90s, you probably remember what a goo ball or slime was. That weird slimy, sticky substance that became an insanely popular kids’ toy back in the day. You could mold it, bounce it, squish it, throw it at your friends, drive your parents nuts by sticking it all over the house, and basically anything else you could think of. The bad part was, that if you got it dirty, even if it was one speck of dust, you knew your slime was doomed – it would never be clean again. But this makes it perfect as a car cleaner.
Go to the nearest kid toy store and get a ball of goo, then dab it all over your car and collect every last particle of dirt or dust. You can also make your own slime, just google “DIY cleaning slime” and chose any tutorial.
Place a Sheet Under Your Kids’ Car Seat
For those that are parents or for one reason or other have a kids’ car seat in the car, you know the mess that’s left behind after a little one takes a ride on the seat. Once you lift it, you can see all the things your kid dropped and left behind.
In order to avoid having to clean out the car every time this happens, put a sheet under the car seat, and next time you can just pull out the sheet, throw it in the washer and voila!
Use a Towel to Dry Your Car After Getting It Washed
Whether you go to a professional car wash, or just rinse your vehicle out on the driveway, your car is likely to get water spots if it isn’t dried properly.
To avoid this, always carry a towel with you, and quickly hand dry it after it leaves the car wash. This will leave your car truly spotless.
Pool Noodle Garage Bumper
Those of you that park in a garage will know how annoying it is every time you hit the car door with the garage door when getting out of the car. This hack will make sure that never happens again.
Grab a pool noodle and screw it or glue it to the wall where your door will touch it once you open it. Now you know your door will never get scratched or damaged. A simple, DIY garage bumper.