Without a doubt, the best thing about living in Colorado is the change of seasons. The folks here live from one season to the next. In the summer, we can't wait for the cooler weather and colors of autumn. In the fall, we're just dying for winter so we can pull out the winter wear, skis and snowboards. Once Christmas is packed up, it's all about the promise of new life as the days grow longer and the weather warms.
Suddenly, it's spring! I'm cleaning like a crazy woman -- and I'm not talking about the house. Around here, winter takes its toll on our cars. It's nearly impossible to keep a car clean during a Colorado winter.
For months, while the days are short, the garage is cold and the driveway is unpredictable, I remind myself that when it warms up and spring gets here, I'll clean and spit-shine my car back to showroom elegance.
CLEANING PRODUCTS. I consider the care and maintenance of our vehicles to be an investment in their long and useful lives. (We drive our cars for a minimum of 20 years.) That's why I use products that the professionals use: KevianClean interior defense, KevianClean leather cleaner and conditioner, a good professional carpet stain remover, window cleaner, and microfiber cloths.
EVERYTHING OUT. I start by removing everything except the spare tire and safety equipment. That means winter floor mats and car seats. I empty the glove compartment, center console, back-seat pockets, door cubbies -- everything!
VINYL, PLASTIC SURFACES AND TRIM. There is no better product than KevianClean interior defense to clean, condition and protect the vinyl and plastic trim and flat surfaces of a car. It not only cleans well but also leaves a natural low-gloss finish. It also contains carnauba and -- the best part -- maximum UV protection. That keeps your dashboard and other surfaces (think: patio furniture, cushions and awnings) from being baked by the sun to an ugly crackly finish! This product will extend the life and beauty of any automobile's non-leather and non-fabric surfaces.
LEATHER SEATS, SURFACES AND TRIM. KevianClean leather cleaner and conditioner is what I use to clean the seats, armrests, steering wheel and every other leather surface in the car. It not only cleans the leather (and leather shoes, handbags and furniture, too) but also conditions it by putting back the moisture leather needs to remain supple and beautiful. HINT: Once the leather is properly cleaned and conditioned, apply a coat of KevianClean interior defense to give it maximum UV protection.
(Wanna know a secret? These two KevianClean products are what car dealers use to take tired and dirty trade-ins and turn them into creampuffs for resale. Haven't you always wondered how they do it?)
VACUUM. I use both my corded vacuum cleaner and hand-held vacuum to make sure I can reach into every crack and crevice. With any luck, you'll find that missing earring and that mobile phone that disappeared!
CARPET AND FABRIC SEATS AND SURFACES. Next, clean the fabric seats, armrests and carpet. Treat spots and stains first. Once the stains are removed, hot water with one or two drops of liquid dishwashing detergent plus some good old elbow grease should do the trick to clean fabric upholstery (if any) and the carpet.
WINDOWS AND MIRRORS. Any good glass and mirror cleaner, even a homemade mixture of 50-50 rubbing alcohol and white vinegar in a spray bottle, along with a microfiber cloth, will get the windows, windshield and mirrors -- inside and out -- clean. Using a microfiber cloth to scrub and wipe dry is the secret to streak-free glass surfaces.
Once you clean everything you took out, replace things as necessary. Then stand back and take a look. You just did a professional job at a do-it-yourself price.
Amazing, isn't it?
Mary Hunt's column, "Everyday Cheapskate," can be found at creators.com.