Keeping up with your car can be a costly endeavor. A sudden “check engine” light can make even the most well-to-do car owners clutch their wallets. So it goes without saying, for most car owners, any tips to save money are welcome.
The best place to not shell out the big bucks? Clean up. Like a tank of gas, buying waxes and leather-safe cleaners can add up. So, here’s a list of 20 low-cost car-cleaning tips to cut down on interior wear-and-tear and keep your car looking good!
1. Use rubbing alcohol to remove stains: Dropped pizza slice about to leave a permanent pepperoni smear on the passenger seat? Remove stains by dabbing them with rubbing alcohol.
2. Use toothpaste on headlights: Foggy headlights make nighttime driving a pain. But forget replacing the bulbs — scrub the lights with toothpaste already in your bathroom and make ’em shine again.
3. Clean wiper blades with rubbing alcohol: Want another alcohol trick? Drizzle some on the windshield wipers to prevent old, dirty blades from smearing grease and grime across your windshield.
4. Brush the air vents: Ever get blasted with dust from the air vents? Rags can’t get every mote dirtying up the vent blades, but a small foam paintbrush can! Use this and save on aerosol air cleaners.
5. Use stain remover to clean floor mats: You know that fancy stain remover you bought to get rid of red wine stains? It works just as well on your car’s floor mats!
6. Remove rust with cola: Nothing makes an old car look its age like a rusted chrome bumper. Scrub off that rust with some highly acidic Coca-Cola and make your bumper shine again.
7. Use WD-40 to remove bumper stickers: Did you change your opinion and now your ironic bumper sticker isn’t so funny anymore? Remove it by spraying it with WD-40.
8. Use a squeegee to pick up pet hair: The ol’ family pooch doesn’t care much about where he leaves his coat. When it’s in your back seat, use a slightly wet rubber squeeze to gently coax it from the fabric.
9. Create your own cleaning supplies: For the price, upholstery cleaners may as well be liquid gold, so make your own like a kid in science class — mix 3 tablespoons Dawn dish soap, 1 tablespoon Borax, and 1 cup hot water.
10. DIY slime the hard-to-reach places: Want another science project? That homemade slime your kids made pulls dirt and grime off knobs and buttons. Get your gak, kids!
11. Baking soda and essential oils to keep the car smelling fresh: A mason jar filled halfway with baking soda and topped off with a few drops of essential oils will make your car a pleasure to ride in. Take a deep breath!
12. Use hair conditioner as wax: Expensive waxes and fancy soaps will give your vehicle that new-car shine, but Dawn dish soap with hair conditioner that contains “lanolin” will, too — just apply it with a microfiber cloth.
13. Scrub windshield with stainless steel: Because they’re tempered, windshields won’t scratch if you scrub them with stainless steel. Use a steel wool cloth to wipe away stubborn blemishes a rag couldn’t handle.
14. Use a cereal dispenser as a waste bin: On a road trip, trash can pile up in the backseats like miles on the odometer. Cut down on that by using a plastic cereal dispenser as a makeshift trash can.
15. Put rubber cupcake liners in cup holders: Loose food crumbs and unidentifiable grime clings to the inside of cup holders. With this trick, cleaning the holders out is as easy as throwing out the cupcake liner.
16. Remove bugs from your bumper with cooking spray: Driving through a patch of bugs will pepper your bumper with guts. Wash all that dirty business away with cooking spray!
17. Keep a crate in the trunk: Clutter in your car adds to your stress levels, so keep it clean. A trunk or box that lives in the trunk keeps the interior organized — and can store emergency supplies, too!
18. Use a Q-Tip for hard-to-clean areas: Nooks. Crannies. That little detailed divet near the gear shift. They might be impossible to reach with a vacuum or rag, but a Q-tip and some cleaning spray can navigate those spaces easily.
19. Tackle grime with a Magic Eraser: Let Mr. Clean help you out with that grime caked on to the armrest. A Magic Eraser cuts through the gunk on vinyl just as well as a dirty dish.
20. Use olive oil to brighten the dashboard: If you can spare a dab of olive oil from your dinner, put it on a rag and buff your dashboard. It’ll make sure the dash doesn’t get dry and crusty. Just be careful that you don’t go overboard…
At least one of these car cleaning tips will save you a buck or two. How do you save money by maintaining your car?
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