Keeping your car in good shape involves a lot of cleaning and maintenance, which can get expensive. Fortunately, there are plenty of car care hacks that can help you keep your car in top form and save you cash in the process.
Below, we cover 17 car care hacks and car cleaning tips that'll help you deep clean your car without breaking the bank.
Cleaning your car's air vents is tough with a cloth, as you can’t get a good wipe inside the vent grates, often leaving a little dust behind. You can go to an auto parts store and get an interior detailing brush kit for $15-$20, but that's way too expensive for something you'll use so rarely.
Instead of buying that pricey kit, head to a craft store or art supply store (or the crafting section of a department store) and look for foam crafting brushes. These are wooden-handled paint brushes with small foam tips.
Apply your interior cleaner to the foam tip and insert the tip into the vent grates to wipe away all that hard-to-reach dust.
While cleaning your air vents, you may also notice dust and dirt in the air duct behind the vent. You can't get back there with a rag, but you can pick up a can of compressed air from a local office supply store—the product people use to clean their keyboard—and use this to blow the dust and debris from the vent.
Your interior has all sorts of nooks and crevices for dirt to hide. Getting to this with a rag is nearly impossible and using a cotton swab is inefficient. You can, however, head to the toy aisle of your favourite department store and pick up slime—yes, the slime kids play with—to handle this.
With its ability to morph into any shape and its stickiness, the slime will get into the crevices and crannies to capture any dirt, crumbs, and debris.
Car interiors get scuff marks and other tough stains regularly. Instead of wasting cleaning products and elbow grease on them, pick up a Magic Eraser—the iconic cleaning sponge—and use it for tough stains on vinyl and hard plastic throughout the cabin.
You can also use it on leather to clean up stains, but only on leather that's in good shape. The Magic Eraser could further damage worn or cracked leather.
When you dust your vehicle with a cloth, you often replace the dust with lint. Coffee filters are a surprising car care hack with multiple benefits. First, they are lint-free, so you leave nothing behind. Second, a coffee filter's construction lets it trap tons of dirt without using any cleaning solution.
Using ammonia-based window cleaner (like Windex) in your home is fine, but your car is different. Often, car windows are tinted, and ammonia ruins the tint. Plus, ammonia-based window cleaners tend to streak and cause excessive fog on car glass. Instead, use a cleaner specifically designed for cars, which are generally alcohol-based.
Also, don't try to twist your shoulder out of its socket to get to the edge of your windshield. Instead, pick up a windshield cleaning tool at a local parts store. It's basically a microfibre pad on a plastic stick. This will allow you to comfortably reach all parts of your windshield.
We've seen those packs of air-vent air fresheners in auto parts stores that clip to your air vents and spread scents throughout your car. Instead of tossing money at these pricey smelly sticks, buy a bag of miniature wooden clothespins and a bottle of your favourite-smelling essential oil. Put a few drops of oil on the end of the clothespin and attach it to your vent.
When the good smell wears away, simply add more essential oil to the clothespin.
Cup holders can get disgusting quick, as sticky liquids accumulate and make a big, nasty mess. Plus, with all their small crevices, they can be quite hard to get completely clean. Pick up a set of silicone cupcake holders and put them in your cup holders. Then, when the holders get dirty, simply pull them out, wash them, and reinstall them.
Cleaning products can get expensive, so it's worthwhile any time you can make your own to save money. To make a great wheel cleaner at home, simply mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of dish liquid and 2 cups of warm water in a bowl.
Rub the solution on your wheels with a sponge or towel, scrub the wheels, then rinse them off.
Are your wipers streaking instead of wiping the water away? Instead of replacing them, try renewing them by soaking a cloth in rubbing alcohol and rubbing the cloth on the rubber part of the blade. This will remove all the dirt and debris, making your wipers more effective and extending their lives.
Bumper stickers can be fun and interesting, but they sometimes get old and raggedy—or maybe you no longer like what they have to say. When that happens, it's time to remove them, which to be honest is a little bit harder than putting them on.
To make your sticker-removing life easier, try holding a running hair dryer just a few inches away from the sticker and moving it back and forth over the sticker's entire surface. Start at the center of the sticker, then move your way outward to the edges.
When the sticker is hot, use a plastic card, like a credit card, to get under the sticker and scrape it off. If the sticker is on glass, you can try a razor blade. Finally, use a cleaning solution to remove any leftover stickiness.
The nooks and crannies in the upholstery on your car seats can be tough to clean, as the dust and grime often combine to make it stick. When that happens, not even a vacuum cleaner can get it out. Get a firm-bristled toothbrush and brush along the crevices to loosen up the gunk first, then vacuum it up.
Swap out your normal car soap with hair conditioner and mix it with water to create a car-wash solution. Unlike harsh detergents, such as dish soap, conditioner won't damage your car's paint. Plus, the conditioner contains lanolin—a wax—that will leave your car with a lovely sheen and repel water.