The Covid-19 pandemic has us all focusing on taking better care of our health and our finances, and keeping a clean car can help you stay healthy by keeping your car free of bacteria and germs.
Cleaning your car regularly is also a great way to protect the value of your vehicle investment. When you take great care of your car by keeping it clean, performing timely maintenance, and investing in a low cost vehicle service contract, also known as extended warranty for used cars, it helps to prolong the life of your car and increase its resale value.
With spring just around the corner, it’s common to get the urge to clean so that we can face the new season with a fresh start. We spend a lot of time inside our cars, so we have to keep them clean! We don’t really think about it, but germs, mold, and dust can build up in our cars just like in our homes. A dirty and cluttered car is unsightly, mentally stressful, and can even harbor covid. Sure, you can take your car to a car wash, but you can also save money by doing your own car cleaning at home.
Are you ready to get cleaning? Here are 8 tips and tricks to get your car ready for spring.
What tools do you need to clean the inside of your car?
To tackle this project, you’ll need some basic tools. In fact, you probably already have everything you need in your household:
- Trash bags
- Storage bins
- Microfiber cloths
- Mild soap and water
- Glass cleaner
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Sanitizing solution with at least 70% alcohol
- Automotive exterior cleaner
- Two buckets
- Squeegee (optional)
When you start cleaning, you should always work from top to bottom and clean dry to wet. It’s also best to start with the car’s interior before moving on to clean the exterior.
If you have a used car, have you considered this: is extended warranty on used cars worth it? Read our recent blog What is Vehicle Service Contract?
1. Take out the trash in your car
The best way to start your car cleaning project is by getting rid of large debris or trash in the vehicle. Get a trash bag and pick up anything too large to be vacuumed. Check under the seats and in the storage compartments. Temporarily remove any items that you usually store in the car and place them in storage bins so they’ll be out of your way while cleaning.
2. Take stock of what’s inside your car
Spring cleaning is also a great time to take stock of what you’re keeping in your vehicle. Check and replenish emergency items such as flashlights and batteries, first aid kits, and bottled water. Check your cabin air filter, if you have one, to see if it needs to be changed. Also, be sure to check your vehicle registration and insurance cards to ensure they’re up to date.
3. Sanitize car surfaces
You’ll want to clean and sanitize the hard surfaces of your car thoroughly with microfiber cloths. Mild soap and water can be used to tackle really grimy surfaces, but be sure to wring the microfiber cloth out so that it is damp, not soaking wet. Don’t forget the nooks and crannies like cupholders. You can use a damp toothbrush to clean these areas.
Use a fresh microfiber cloth to sanitize surfaces after cleaning. A solution with at least 70% alcohol is safe to use and can help eliminate bacteria. Be sure to thoroughly sanitize frequently touched surfaces such as:
- Steering wheel
- Gear shifter
- Door handles
- Seat belt buckles
- Arm rests
- Light and climate controls
- Grab handles
The vehicle windows and the windshield can be cleaned inside and out with a soft cloth or chamois and glass cleaner. Avoid using paper towels, and always spray cleaners on the cloth or chamois rather than directly on the vehicle surfaces to prevent damaging any components.
4. Use tools to clean car upholstery and floors
Nothing works better than a vacuum cleaner to pick up loose dirt and debris from car upholstery and floor. A crevice tool is helpful to get into hard-to-reach places such as between seats. After vacuuming, a steam cleaner can be used to clean the fabric. If you don’t have a steam cleaner, mild soap and water on a soft cloth can also be used to gently spot clean stains and spots from the upholstery. An important tip is to avoid getting the fabric soaked as damp fabric can grow mold. If your vehicle has a leather interior, ensure you’re using a cleaner designed for leather surfaces, then follow up with a leather conditioner.
5. Clean car’s touch screen with isopropyl alcohol instead of glass cleaner
Touch screens in your vehicle require regular cleaning as they will certainly harbor germs from our hands. Glass cleaner or other household cleaners should not be used on touch screens as they can cause damage to the screen’s protective coating. Instead, dampen a fresh microfiber cloth with isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe the screen clean.
6. Clean the car exterior using separate buckets and sponges
A layer of grime on the outside of your vehicle isn’t pretty, and it’s also harmful because it can eat into the finish and cause permanent damage if allowed to remain. To clean the exterior of your vehicle, always use a cleaner specially formulated for use on automotive exteriors and prepare the formula according to the directions on the package. A good tip is to use separate buckets for the wash water and the rinse water to keep old dirt from getting back on your car.
Rinsing the vehicle thoroughly with water will remove loose particles that could scratch the surface during cleaning. It’s recommended to begin at the top of the car and work your way around. Always use a clean, soft sponge to apply the sudsy cleaning formula. Avoid wiping in a circular motion as this can leave streaks. Work on one section at a time; you want to ensure that you have time to wash and rinse each area completely before the soap begins to dry. Be sure to rinse the sponge with clean water often.
Always use a separate sponge to clean the wheels and tires of the vehicle so that you don’t transfer any brake dust or other debris to the car’s finish and cause scratches or damage. A cleaner specifically formulated for your wheels may be required to remove all the grime.
7. Dry your car by hand
After washing and rinsing, it’s important to dry the car by hand as allowing the car to air dry can cause water spots or deposits to be left on the vehicle’s exterior. This can be done with a dry chamois or several soft, terry cloth towels.
A squeegee can be also used to remove the water before drying. However, be sure the rubber on the squeegee is pliable, and check the squeegee often to ensure it’s not picking up bits of dirt and debris that can damage that vehicle’s finish.
8. Make cleaning a routine
Anytime your car is nice and clean, make plans to keep it that way! After each time driving in your car, make it a routine to remove any extra trash and clutter right away, and sanitize touched surfaces frequently. Make an appointment on your agenda to thoroughly clean your car on a regular basis. Keeping your vehicle clean is a good habit that will keep you and your family healthy.
Remember: Maintaining a clean car not only helps keep the exterior finish looking good and the interior free of stains. It can help increase the resale value of your vehicle.
Protect your car from expensive repairs with Vehicle Repair Protection
Keeping your car clean requires time, but it’s an investment that will help you avoid having to repair the car’s finish or replace stained upholstery later on. For bigger repairs, think of Vehicle Repair Protection as another preventative measure. You’re sure to save yourself from costly car repairs that can take time and money out of your pocket, with just a simple month-to-month plan.
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