Completing Seven Tricky Car Cleaning Tasks with Ease!

Car-washEveryone wants to keep a clean car. There’s something undeniably nice about driving around in an automobile that looks fresh off the lot, but the vicissitudes of daily driving life—commuting, dirty shoes, sliding floor mats, on-the-go eating—combine to make it hard to keep a good clean car.

You can vacuum after you drive through the Super Wash or the Tunnel of Clean, but that quick run-over with the suction hoses won’t really get in and clean your car thoroughly; whether commercial car wash vacuums are wimpy or not, nobody wants to stand outside in public cleaning their car for that long.

Does getting it dealership-clean seem overly taxing? It doesn’t have to be! Here are 7 tricks to make a detailed clean easier to achieve.

Vacuum Trick – Use the House Vacuum

You don’t need to use a special car vacuum or the (sometimes wimpy) vacuums outside commercial car washes. If the vacuum you use on the flooring and/or carpets has a “cleaning tools” feature with hose and attachments, and you’re satisfied with how it performs on indoor carpet, it’s the thing to use on your car.

Once you’ve plugged your indoor vacuum into the wall in the garage, turn it to the cleaning tools setting and set up the hose with the attachments ready to be switched (different areas of your car will need different attachments. Remove all the car floor mats—you’ll clean them separately—and physically pick up and throw away any debris too large for the vacuum.

Slide the front seats all the way up, then start vacuuming,  moving from the trunk of your car (can’t leave that dirty!) up to the front. After you get the whole backseat area done, slide those front seats fully backward and get as far in under and around the seats as you can.

Upholstery Trick – Clean it Like it’s Carpet

Similar to using the same vacuum you’d use on house carpet, clean the carpet and upholstery close to the same way you would clean carpet in your own home.

If you’re worried that carpet stain remover may be too harsh for the upholstery in your car (unlikely, but a valid concern nonetheless) laundry spot remover plus some scrubbing, blotting, and patience should do the trick on most common car stains.

If the carpet and upholstery in your car needs an all-over deep clean, then simply rent a small or handheld carpet cleaning machine (assuming you don’t own one to use). As with vacuuming, slide the seats and move from back to front as you work around them.

Leather and Vinyl Trick – Clean and Condition

It’s worth it to buy both cleaner and conditioner if your car has leather and vinyl upholstery on the seats or dashboard.

Spray the cleaner on a clean towel and rub vigorously to get out the ground in grime. Flip the towel over to a clean surface frequently as you clean the entirety of the car—otherwise you’re just rubbing the dirt and grime back into the seats.

Once the seats are clean and completely dry, rub some leather conditioner all over the seats and/or dashboard, and rub it in thoroughly. Car dealers in Utah are likely to recommend something different than car dealers in Seattle, because of the effect various humidity levels, so call your local dealership and see what brands or types of cleaner and conditioner they recommend.

Window Trick – Get Rid of Old Decals

Yes, you needed that parking pass five years ago, but now it and five other college and apartment parking permits are doing no more than clutter up your windshield. You don’t have to keep them forever!

An old credit card or plastic putty knife (fairly cheap at most hardware stores) will get most of the decal off, especially if you can get at least one corner up yourself. Any remaining sticky residue can be removed with an application of something like Goo Gone brand and a little more scraping.

Another Window Trick – Clean it like glass (because it is)

We all think to clean the front and back windshields and to keep mirrors useful by keeping the view through them clear. But the inside of windshield and windows are so often neglected (and, as someone who likes a clean car can tell you, so often dirty).

So just grab some window cleaner and newspaper (which leaves fewer streaks than paper towels, if any), and clean ALL over the windows and mirrors (including rolling down the windows a bit and cleaning the tops).

Details Trick – Getting the Grime out of Nooks and Crannies

It’s surprising and awful how much can build up on surfaces in your car—the vents, the dash, the doors. But the gunk, dust, dead skin, and other nasty stuff can come out as you clean the rest of the dash.

For surfaces like the air conditioning and heating vents, remove dust and dirt with a small, soft-bristled paintbrush dipped in the appropriate cleaner or some furniture polish.

Hard-to-reach dash and door details can be easily reached with a rag-wrapped screwdriver. Then clean the rest of the dashboard and door normally.

Maintenance Trick – Shallow Clean once a week

Asking you to do all of this once a week would be ridiculous, but asking you to do a quick vacuum, dash dust, and window/mirror clean once a week certainly isn’t.

A weekly Shallow Clean will keep small dirt from building up into major grime later—so you can save the deep cleaning for every 2-3 months.

Follow these tricks to keep your car dealership-clean for years!

Nina Hiatt researches and writes articles to help people find balance and beauty in their personal space through landscape and interior design. In her free time, Nina blogs about many of her interests, which include gardening, technology news, and baking (and secretly dreads vacuuming her car).

Image Credit: