A Practical Guide To Keeping Your Car Clean

Published on
April 6, 2023

Whether you're a seasoned driver or a new car owner, keeping your car clean and organized is important to enhancing your driving experience and making you happy when you step into your car. From dealing with unexpected spills to making sure your car is prepared for different weather conditions, our comprehensive guide includes expert-approved tips, tricks, and lesser-known hacks to help you maintain a spotless car.

Follow the advice below to keep both the interior and exterior of your car in a neat condition.

How To Keep Your Car Clean

Keeping your car clean is easier said than done. Life happens. ‌And sometimes your schedule may keep you too busy to even know where to start.

If you find yourself constantly having to wipe crumbs off the middle of your seats, there are odd smudges on your dashboard you can’t seem to identify, or there’s an odd smell that other people can seem to pick up even though you can’t—review the tips below:

How To Keep The Inside Of The Car Clean

It’s easy to get tempted to eat in the car if you’re hungry or in a rush, but if you can try to avoid it. After all, if you pick up take-out and your car fills with the smell of hot french fries, it’s hard to resist not snacking on them during your drive home. We get it. Yet, even a quick, innocent snack can lead to big messes inside your car that can take forever to clean.

If anything spills in your car, clean it up immediately. Stains are easier to remove when fresh and cleaning them up quickly helps prevent them from becoming permanent. Store wipes and napkins, so you can quickly clean up any spills that happen. Having a pack of cleaning wipes in your glove box and a stash of napkins or paper towels in your console helps.

Always check the bottom of your shoes before entering your vehicle. If there’s mud, dirt, salt, sand, or other debris on your shoes, wipe, shake, or stomp off as much as possible before getting in your car. Use floor mats if possible. These mats capture dirt and spills. Removing and cleaning them outside the vehicle is much easier and faster than trying to clean dirt directly off the car’s floor.

Have a garbage bin handy. Keeping a garbage bin (even an old plastic bag) means you have a place to throw leaking, greasy, or dirty items before they make a mess of your car.

In addition to more time-intensive tasks like shampooing the seats and taking care of your car’s tires,  there are more simple things you can do to help keep your car clean.

How To Keep The Outside Of The Car Clean

Parking under a covered area exposes your car to fewer elements and fewer birds that may want to use the roof of your care for target practice. If covered parking isn't possible, avoid parking under trees where birds are likelier to hang out above. You can also purchase a car cover as an alternative to parking in a garage.

Regularly wash your car. Whether you're washing it at home or visiting a proper car wash, having your car regularly cleaned can help the paint job be vibrant and shiny. Even if your car is clean, a quick rinse with a hose doesn’t hurt. And don’t forget, if you’re washing your car at home, only use car-specific products since household products can damage vehicle paint!

Occasionally wax your car. Waxing adds a thin layer to your car’s top coat, creating a barrier between the paint job and airborne contaminants. It also reduces friction from debris, so it helps protect your vehicle from damage.

To get your wheels and tires looking their best, use a wheel brush and a wheel cleaner specially formulated for your type of wheels. Scrub away brake dust, grime, and dirt, and rinse thoroughly. For tires, use a tire cleaner to lift dirt and grease, then rinse and dry.

You should also clean and polish your vehicle’s headlights. Use a headlight cleaning kit or a mix of baking soda and water to scrub away the yellowing and grime from the headlights. Rinse, dry, and apply a UV protectant spray or headlight polish to protect them from future damage.

Car Organization: Keep Your Car Clutter-Free

Keeping your car organized and clutter-free is also a part of keeping it clean. Investing in car organizers that fit into the space between the front seats and the console is perfect for storing frequently used items. You can also use pocket organizers that hang from the back of seats for additional storage.

To prevent clutter in the trunk, keep reusable tote bags on hand for carrying groceries and other items. Use a shower caddy or a plastic crate to hold car maintenance essentials like motor oil, windshield washer fluid, and a tire pressure gauge in one section of your trunk.

Special Scenarios: Lovable (But Messy) Pets

Pets bring joy to our lives, but they can also bring fur, dirt, and messes into our cars. If you're a pet owner who loves taking your furry friend on the road, it's important to be prepared.

Invest in pet-specific seat covers: Seat covers designed for pet travel are your best defense against pet hair and messes. These covers are typically hair-resistant and leak-proof, providing a barrier between your pet and your car's upholstery. As an added bonus, they're easy to clean and remove as needed.

Use a waterproof backseat cover: For extra protection, consider using a waterproof backseat cover. This cover shields the entire backseat area from wet or muddy paws, preventing stains and damage to your car's interior.

Clean up accidents promptly: Accidents happen, especially during long car rides. Be prepared with cleaning supplies such as paper towels, pet-safe cleaning spray, and waste bags. Promptly cleaning up any messes will prevent lingering odors and stains.

Regularly vacuum your car and keep a lint roller handy: Use a handheld vacuum or a vacuum attachment designed for pet hair to remove fur, dirt, and debris from your car's seats, floors, and crevices. In addition to vacuuming, keep a lint roller in your car for quick touch-ups. A lint roller is perfect for picking up stray pet hairs from seats, clothing, and other surfaces, helping you maintain a spotless interior with minimal effort.

Keep a wet squeegee handy: Pet hair has a way of sticking to car seats and surfaces, but a wet squeegee can also quickly solve the problem. Simply dampen the squeegee and run it across the fabric to collect and remove pet hair in a snap. With this addition, you'll have an extra tool at your disposal to quickly and conveniently deal with pet hair while on the go.

Deep Cleaning Your Car's Interior: A Step-by-Step Guide

While regular cleaning and organization are important, it's equally important to give your car's interior a deep clean every once in a while. Doing so will help you maintain your vehicle and protect your “2nd living room” as we like to call it. Here's a step-by-step guide to cleaning your car's interior like a pro:

Step 1: Gather Supplies

To achieve that, fresh-from-the-dealership clean, you'll need the right supplies. Here are some items you should have on hand in your garage:

  • Microfiber wash mitt
  • Duster
  • Vacuum with attachments
  • Upholstery cleaner
  • Leather cleaner and conditioner (optional)
  • Glass cleaner
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Carpet or rubber floor mat cleaner
  • Soft-bristled brush or toothbrush
  • Rubbing alcohol (for cleaning windscreen wipers)
  • Baking soda, activated charcoal, and/or air freshener (for deodorizing)

Step 2: Remove Trash and Clean Floor Mats

Begin by removing all trash from your car, then take out your floor mats. Shake them outside to remove large crumbs and debris. Vacuum dirt embedded in your mats, then clean them using appropriate products based on the type of mat (carpeted or non-carpeted). Hang the mats to air-dry.

Step 3: Vacuum Interior

With the floor mats removed, vacuum the interior of your car, including seats, carpets, and hard-to-reach corners. Use vacuum attachments to access narrow areas like cupholders and the space between the windshield and dashboard.

Step 4: Dust and Disinfect Dashboard and Console

Use a duster or microfiber cloth to clear your dashboard, console, and vents of dust and debris. Afterward, use disinfecting wipes to kill germs and bacteria on high-contact surfaces. Be careful when cleaning sensitive areas like the gearshift, infotainment panel, and console controls.

Step 5: Clean Cupholders, Door Panels, Steering Wheel, and Windows

Clean your cupholders, door panels, and steering wheels with disinfecting wipes or a suitable cleaner. Use an alcohol-based glass cleaner to wipe the insides of your windows and windshields, and consider using two microfiber cloths to reduce streaking.

Step 6: Take Care of Seats

Vacuum your seats to remove debris, then use the right products for your seat material to clean them. For leather seats, use a leather cleaner and conditioner. For cloth seats, apply stain removal products if needed, then use an upholstery cleaner and scrub brush for a deeper clean. Rinse with a damp microfiber cloth and let the seats air dry.

Step 7: Deodorize

Eliminate unpleasant odors with baking soda, activated charcoal, or air fresheners. Consider creating a DIY air freshener by adding baking soda and a few drops of essential oil into a lidded container with vents. Place the container securely under a seat or use a commercial air freshener.

Maintaining a Clean Car: More Tips To Remember

Keeping your car's interior clean requires consistent effort. Here are some additional reminders for maintaining a spotless car:

  • Use car gel or putty to clean hard-to-reach spots like vents.
  • Use silicone baking cups as liners for cupholders to reduce residue buildup.
  • Invest in over-the-seat organizers for storing travel items and entertainment.
  • Keep food contained in sealable containers to prevent spills and crumbs.
  • Schedule regular washing and waxing to protect your car's exterior.
  • Park undercover to protect your car from the elements.

Maintaining a clean and organized car not only enhances your driving experience but also preserves the value of your vehicle. By following these expert-approved tips, tricks, and lesser-known hacks, you'll be well on your way to enjoying a clean and comfortable ride every time you hit the road.

We hope you found this guide helpful and that it inspires you to take good care of your vehicle. Remember, a little effort goes a long way in keeping your car looking and feeling great.

If you enjoyed reading this guide, check out our other guides here.

About the Author: This article was crafted by the LOOP Marketing Team. Comprising of seasoned professionals with expertise in the insurance industry, our team is dedicated to providing readers with accurate, up-to-date, and valuable information. At LOOP, we're passionate about helping families navigate the world of car insurance, ensuring they get the best coverage at the most affordable rates. Learn more about our mission and values here.

For more insights on auto insurance and other related topics, visit our blog.

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