There’s nothing that devalues a car more than a dirty exterior and interior. Even a 1998 Toyota Corolla can look top-of-the-line with a little bit of elbow grease. Since most cleaning products are still low in stock though, you might need to improvise. Luckily, we’ve collected some handy tips and tricks on how to buff, shine, and make the inside and outside of your car sparkle.
You might have heard of a few of these cleaning hacks but we bet you never thought to use white vinegar inside your car. Follow these tips to get your vehicle looking and smelling brand new.
Clay Bars Leave Your Car’s Body Clean And Shiny
This one made us do a double take, but we promise it’s becoming common practice. Apparently, you can use clay to clean-up and shine the body of your car. The reason is that clay works to pick up any gunk on your car’s body.
We looked up how much car clay would cost you, too. The lowest price we could find was $15, which doesn’t sound too bad to us if your car looks fresh off the lot for the first time in years.
Don’t Forget The Toothpaste For Your Headlights
While you’re out buying cotton swabs for your car, you might as well buy some toothpaste as well. It’s a great cleaning solution to clear up the fog on your headlights, and it’ll save you money by avoiding the mechanic.
Some mechanics will charge up to $1,000 to clean your lights. A tube of toothpaste will cost you less than $10! It’s easy to do, too; scrub toothpaste on the lens of the light, rinse it off, and dry it. The results will speak for themselves.
Use Cooking Spray For Bumper Bugs
Don’t have a dryer cloth handy for bumper bugs? Here’s another option. Spray your bumper with cooking spray, preferably Pam. Take a soft cloth and wipe the bugs away. It works great after you’ve driven through a cloud of gnats!
It’s also less damaging to your paint than a dryer wiper, even if you need to use a little extra force. Just make sure you’re using an extra soft rag to wipe the greasy away!
Squeegee Your Seats To Remove Dog Hair
This one only applies to pet owners or excessively hairy individuals. If there is noticeable shedding on your seats, a vacuum is useless. What you need is a squeegee and a water bottle.
If you don’t believe us, try it yourself. Fill a spray bottle with some water and bring it to your car with a squeegee. Spray the affected area and squeegee the problem away. We promise you won’t be disappointed with the results.
Rubbing Alcohol Gets Rid Of Wiper Streaks
Are your windshield wipers streaking after you replaced your old ones? Try cleaning your shiny new set with rubbing alcohol. Pop your wipers back in and enjoy your new streak-free, clean windshield.
This is a great tip if you live in a drier region where wipers tend to go bad more quickly from drying out. By doing this you might be able to extend the life of your wipers and save a little money in the long run.
Newspapers Are Actually Great Window Cleaners
This is the perfect hack if it feels like you have the worst luck possible with dirty windows. Take an old newspaper and crumple it up. Then take regular window cleaner and spray your car’s window with it.
Now use your newspaper ball to wipe away the washer fluid. Your windows will look good as new afterward. It might sound silly to replace a normal cloth with a newspaper but it makes a big difference! Just be warned, if you have tinted windows do some more research to see if your tint can handle it.
Rustoleum? Have You Ever Tried Soda?
Looking for a healthy way to use soda? Aside from being a tasty and refreshing beverage, the sugar-filled drink is also great for removing rust from cars. It works so well because of how much acid is hiding in your carbonated beverage.
To take advantage of cola’s rust-destroying properties, put some in a spray bottle and get to work on the affected part of your vehicle. Afterward, maybe reconsider how much soda is in your daily diet.
Paint Brushes Are Great For Your Vents
Paint brushes aren’t just for art and walls. If you have dust blowing into your car from your air vents, try using a small paintbrush to clean them out. They’re cheap to buy at your local hardware store and could end up being a real lifesaver.
The bottom line is dust is bad for you. Especially if you have allergies. This may just seem like a simple hack, but it’s also important for your health. And did we mention they’re cheap?
Use White Vinegar To Clean The Inside Of Your Windows
Just because you clean the outside of your windows, that doesn’t mean your windows are clean. You still have to clean the inside to keep your vision perfect. Luckily, it’s much easier to clean the inside of your windows than the outside.
Take a cloth and dip it into a mixture of white vinegar, dish soap, and warm water. Then wipe your windshield. NOW it’s clean. Time to go on a drive and get it dirty again!
Olive Oil Is A Natural Buffer
Looking for an easy way to make the leather on your dashboard look good as new? It’s time to start using olive oil. It doesn’t take a lot and it will shine things back up perfectly. It also lasts a while.
You can use olive oil to help buff your seats as well. Then, with whatever is left over in the bottle, make an Italian feast as a reward. You’ve earned that spicy meatball!
Have You Ever Tried Steel Wool On Your Windshield?
This one sounds like we’re jumping the shark, but we promise we’re not! Steel wool is actually one of the best windshield cleaners you can use. The reason? Your windshield isn’t as weak as you think.
Imagine everything your windshield has to protect you from. When gravel hits your car, your window would shatter if it wasn’t heavy duty. Basically, if you have some grime on your window and no idea how to get rid of it, try steel wool.
WD-40 Will Clean Your Stickers Right Off!
Tired of seeing your 2016 “vote for” sticker on your bumper in 2020? Try using WD-40 to get those pesky stickers off with perfect results. Otherwise, be prepared to peel paint away with the sticker thanks to the adhesive they use.
To make this hack work, just spray the outdated bumper sticker with WD-40 and let it soak in. Be patient, wait, and let the magic happen. Once the miracle solution has soaked through the sticker and its glue, peel it back and smile.
Make Your Own Interior Cleaner Using Soda
If you want to save some money on car cleaning supplies, here’s a recipe to create your own solution: one cup of distilled vinegar, one cup of club soda, and half a cup of dish soap.
Take the mixture and put in a spray bottle. Spray the affected areas of your car and let it soak in and dry. In just a few hours you’ll notice a big difference. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Nail Polish Will Save Your Windshield
You never know when a small rock will pop up on the road and crack your windshield. If you don’t get the small crack fixed, it will grow and become a real danger to you.
One thing you can do to buy time before getting to an autoshop is to fill the crack with clear nail polish. Once dry, the crack will stop spreading. It won’t make the crack go away, though. You’ll still need to get it fixed, just with less stress.
Detail On The Go With Q-Tips
We bet you’ve never thought about using q-tips or other cotton swabs to detail your car. The tiny cotton headed swabs are perfect for creeping into small crevices and picking up gunk. And they come in packs of hundreds!
The best part of q-tips, however, is that they can be stored anywhere. Leave some in your cup holder and side storage compartment for an easy way to detail on the go! It’s the smart thing to do.
Vaseline Is Like Magic
Vaseline isn’t just for moisturizing dry skin. When your leather or vinyl car seats begin cracking, dab some Vaseline on a cloth and rub it down. It won’t fix the cracks, but it will help prevent further cracking.
It’s great for cold weather too. Tired of waking up on a snowy morning to realize your door seals are frozen shut? Rub some Vaseline on the rubber seals to prevent this annoying problem.
Always Hand Dry Your Car
Unless you love streaks all over your car, always dry it by hand. Water leaves streaks, which is why air drying your car never works right. Driving your car around the block to help it dry only makes the streaks worse, too.
The best thing you can do to make sure you never get water streaks left on your car is to hand dry it. Every time. Don’t trust a drive-through car wash either. Once you’re out, pull over and dry the car yourself for best results.
Clean And Replace Your Filters
When your vents are clean but your car still smells, it’s time to clean or replace your filters. This is a common sense cleaning hack that’s easy to forget until you get your oil changed. When you get your oil changed, they’ll show you how gross they’ve become to get extra money out of you.
Now that you know, you can clean or replace the filters yourself and use the money you save to buy yourself a nice dinner.
Baby Wipes For Windows? Yes!
Apparently, this is a big hack in the military. Always carry a box of baby wipes in your car with you. Not only are they a quick way to clean up accidental messes but they work wonders on your windows!
If you’re taking a long drive and your windows are getting caked up, pull over and use a baby wipe. It works just as well as wiper fluid and can be used on every window on your car, not just the windshield.
Try Washing Your Car With Hair Conditioner To Get Extra Shine
Another way to avoid taking your car to an overpriced car detail shop is to wash it yourself with hair conditioner. Hear us out on this one. Buy conditioner with lanolin it and apply it to your vehicle.
Use a circular buffing motion to apply it to your vehicle’s body until all you see is shiny paint. Jealous of how shiny your car looks? Take a shower, apply conditioner, and then go out for a night on the town to show off all your shine!
Make Your Own Washer Fluid
If you drive in miserable weather and need to keep your view clean, then you need to start making your own wiper fluid. Rather than take a chance that you have enough before you buy more, simply mix three cups of grain alcohol with four cups of water and two teaspoons of dishwashing detergent.
Throw the mix in your trunk for emergencies and never lose sight of the road in front of you again. We also recommend changing your wipers regularly if you live in an area where you use them a lot. Don’t be like the guy above.
Dryer Wipes Will Solve Your Bug Problems
One of the most annoying things about long distance driving is how many “bumper bugs” you pick up along the way. Crushed and crusted into your bumper, we’ve discovered that using a dryer wipe to clean them off works like a charm.
Take your dryer sheet, damp it with water, and gently rub the bugs away from your bumper. For those bugs that are super stuck on there, you can scratch a little harder, just be careful of your paint job while you do!
Protect Your Car From Salt Damage With Vinegar
If you live in an area where there’s snow and the road freezes, this is a must-try hack. During extreme weather, your city salts the road. This makes sure the water on the gravel doesn’t freeze and the snow melts right away.
Unfortunately, it also means salt gets all over your car and damages it. To prevent this, spray vinegar underneath your car. It acts as a deterrent and washes unwanted salt away, keeping your car in good condition.
Baking Soda Gets Rid Of Lingering Smells
At some point in the ownership of your car, it’s going to smell. Unfortunately, you can’t just remove all the fabric and wash it like you would your clothes. You can, however, use baking soda to attack and eliminate those friendship-ending smells.
Dust your seats with baking soda, then let it sit for a while. Patience is key for this one. Baking soda is incredibly absorbent, so don’t be afraid to let it do its job. After a few hours, grab a vacuum, suck up the baking soda, and take a big whiff.
A Screwdriver And A Cloth Are A Car’s Best Friend
No matter how hard you try, some places in your car just seem impossible to reach. We’re here to tell you not to give up. Take a small screwdriver, cover it with a thin cloth, and experience the joy of having the cleanest car in the neighborhood.
It might take some time to get used to this tactic of cleaning on your car, but it’s definitely worth it. New car, who this?
Put Sheets Under Your Child’s Car Seat
As parents know, kids make messes in cars, dropping all sorts of “goodies” from their car seats. (Good luck finding everything in every crack.) The chances of that are poor at best.
To fix this, simply put a sheet under the car seats. Now when you get back from your road trip, you don’t have to worry about cleaning your car. Just pop your dirty sheets in the washer and take a nap- if the kids will let you.
Magic Erasers Are Magic For Your Interior
This is a great hack if you have leather or vinyl seats in your car. If they’re looking extra gross, grab a magic eraser and scrub the gunk away. Watch with pleasure as all the coffee stains and other spills disappear.
We don’t want to make any guarantees, but magic erasers are so powerful, your car might just look brand new. Used more commonly as a household cleaning supply, magic erasers are cheap and can be found at any store.
Use Silicon Gel On Air Vents
Earlier we showed you how to clean your air vents with foam brushes and other tools. When you don’t have time for multiple tools, trying using silicon gel to cut out the middleman.
By using this gel-like Silly Putty, you’re able to pick up all kinds of gross dust and grime from those hard-to-reach places in your car. You can use the gel for vent, window control buttons, or any similar area that is building up dirt.
Use A Vacuum To Pick Up Dust From The Floor
Let’s say you’ve made it to the point where a paintbrush or a q-tip has successfully removed the dust from your vents. What comes next? Grab a handheld vacuum and get rid of the dust for good!
To kill two birds with one stone, hold a vacuum extension up to the vent when cleaning to avoid extra work. You probably already have a vacuum with extension pieces in your closet, so put them to good use.
Use Cupcake Molds In Cup Holders
Do you clean out your cup holders? It’s okay, we don’t either. That’s why this hack is so amazing. Instead of cleaning out your cup holders, put cupcake molds in them. Then, when you need to clean it up, the take out and wash the holder.
Pretty genius, right? You can also use disposable cupcake molds if don’t want to deal with dirty dishes. Just keep them stashed in your car for when you need them.
Never Doubt The Power Of Compressed Air!
Do you have a can of compressed air sitting near your keyboard to help keep dust out? If you notice your car vents are coughing out a lot of dust, try using the compressed air there, too. It’s a great way to blow the problem away!
After blowing the dust away, grab a baby wipe or handheld vacuum for a deeper clean. There’s no reason to give the dust a new address when you can kick it out of town for good.
Use A Toothbrush For Detailing
You don’t need to pay someone or buy a fancy kit to detail your car. If you have a toothbrush (that you don’t brush your teeth with) then you’re all set.
You won’t believe how perfectly the bristles fit into small crevices for the perfect clean! Like the paintbrushes we mentioned earlier, you won’t break the bank buying a new toothbrush either. Let’s be honest, you don’t need to buy a Sonic Care for your car, you just want to.
This Is The Story Of A Travel Cup, An Old Sock, And Windex
If you don’t feel like using cupcake molds to keep your cup holders clean, we have another quick fix for you. Take an old sock and put it over a travel cup. Did you do that? Now spray the sock with Windex or whatever cleaner you might have sitting around.
Rub the contraption all around your cup holder until you’re satisfied. Then clean the cup so you can use it. Probably throw out the old sock, though.
Essential Oils Make A Great Air Freshener
You’ve tried baking soda and traditional air fresheners, but your car refuses to get rid of that last sneaky scent. What do you do? We suggest trying essential oils. If you take a clothespin, wet it with the oils, then stick it in your vent, your nose will be in heaven.
The best part is, if you already have essential oils laying around (they have become very trendy), it’s a relatively cheap alternative to those weird hanging trees that don’t actually smell like pine.
Have You Ever Thought About Putting A Trash Can In Your Car?
If you leave a lot of food wrappers and other trash in your car, then you should strongly consider buying a small trash bin. You can discreetly put the small bin away from where people might sit.
Just make sure to keep it within arm’s reach. The point of the trash bin is to break one bad habit, not create two. And make sure to buy bags for your new car trash can for easy disposal.
Scented Wax Adds An Air Of Sophistication To Any Car
Essential oils aren’t your thing? If you still want your car to small amazing but don’t want pine scent, try taking the wax from favorite candle and letting it slowly melt in your car.
Take a large chunk from the candle and put it in a jar. Poke holes in the top of the lid so the scent can escape. As your car naturally heats up, the candle will begin to melt, releasing it’s beautiful scents into the world.
Use A Hot Iron For A Sticky Mess
Cars get hot. That’s just the way life is. On extra hot days, anything in your car that can melt, will melt. You know the phrase “it’s so hot you could cook an egg?” You could also melt a gummy bear.
When something melts and gets stuck, try placing a thick piece of paper over it and hold it down with a hot iron for about 30 seconds. When you pull up the iron, all the slime should be soaked up by the paper and out of your upholstery.
Scrub Dirty Vinyl With A Toothbrush
Another cool trick to help clean the vinyl in your car is to use a toothbrush. Make sure to get the affected area wet with a magic eraser first, though! Once you’ve prepared the area, scrub away.
You’ll be surprised how quickly and effectively this gets rid of the stains and the gunk from your interior. It’s not hard to make your old car look brand new again, just a little elbow grease and a toothbrush!
Toss Your Floor Mats In The Washer!
There’s no way around it. Unless you obsessively clean your car’s floor mats, they are filthy. Luckily, it’s very easy to clean them. Take them out of your car, spray them with stain remover and toss them in the washer.
When they’re out of the washer, DO NOT put them in the dryer. We repeat, DO NOT put them in the dryer. Lay them out, let them dry, and bask in the glory of having clean floor mats again.
Get A Deep Clean With Baking Soda And Vinegar
If you want to get a deeper clean on your upholstery and dry baking soda isn’t doing the job, mix it with vinegar to create a paste. Rub the paste into your upholstery and then rinse it out.
You’ll be shocked how much dirt is hiding underneath the surface of your seats! Not only will this clean your car, but the baking soda will also work to get rid of any unwanted smells you’ve been dealing with.