Car-cleaning Hacks

By Julia Price

April 3, 2017 5 min read

Spring-cleaning isn't just for your home or apartment. Your car deserves some TLC, too. And rather than shelling out a bunch of cash on products that may spend the next several months rolling around in your trunk, check your pantry for some products you can use for do-it-yourself solutions.

When it comes to keeping your automobile safe from rain, why not try a little conditioner? That's right: The same stuff that keeps your locks lustrous can keep your automobile agleam, too. Lanolin, a key ingredient in conditioners, can help seal the rain out and prevent it from wearing on the surface of your car. Lanolin is a waxy substance that comes from the coat of domestic sheep bred specifically for their wool. (Of course, make sure that your conditioner is environmentally safe and animal-friendly whenever possible.)

In order to spruce up your headlights, just wipe them down with some Windex. If you don't have Windex or you're just feeling adventurous, you can make your own cleaner. Here's a great, simple recipe that should get the job done: Combine 2 cups of water, half a teaspoon of liquid dish soap and a quarter cup of vinegar. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake it up. Spray the mixture onto your headlights, and then wipe them clean with a washcloth. You can also use the leftover cleaner from your washcloth to clean your windshields. They're so busy keeping your windshield clean that they often accumulate dirt without your even noticing. Just give them a quick wipe and you won't believe your eyes (because you'll immediately be seeing a much nicer view through the windshield).

Perhaps you're guilty of eating while driving or you just love sipping a good latte on your way to work. If so, you probably have some leftovers lingering in your car in the form of stains. The trick to removing old gunk from interior car surfaces? Toothpaste!

Dab a small amount of toothpaste directly onto the stain. With an old toothbrush that you're ready to toss, lightly scrub until the stain comes out. Then pat with a damp towel until the remaining toothpaste is removed. For heavier stains, try mixing cream of tartar and lemon juice (equal parts) and let soak on the stain for eight to 12 minutes before wiping with a washcloth or rag. Make sure to test a small amount on a specific area before covering large surfaces.

Don't toss that toothbrush quite so fast! You'll also need it to tackle the spots on your car's carpet. Mix equal parts of baking soda and white vinegar in a small bowl. The texture should look and feel like paste. Massage the DIY paste into the stain. Use the toothbrush to gently scrub until spotless. Then let the paste completely dry. Once it does, you'll want to use a vacuum to get rid of any remaining pieces of paste left behind. And if this method doesn't work at first, repeat the whole process, until the stain is completely removed.

Keep your dashboard dazzling with another homemade mixture. Combine 2 cups of olive oil with 1 cup of lemon juice. Mix it in a bowl, and pour it into a spray bottle. Shake to combine. Spray the dashboard, and wipe it down with a rag or washcloth. If you want to dilute the mix, feel free to add a small amount of warm water. You'll be ready to take any hot date out on the town.

And last but not least, you've got to take care of your wheels. Fill two buckets of warm water up to the halfway point. In the first one, mix in several drops of dish soap. With a hand brush, apply the liquid onto the tires, getting into the crevices and scrubbing strongly.

To take care of the dirt left behind, switch to the other half-filled bucket of warm water. Fill the rest of the bucket with rubbing alcohol. Funnel the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake to combine. Thoroughly spray the tires but avoid the tire. Pat them with a towel, and let them dry completely. For your last phase, use a cloth to apply castor oil to the tires (avoiding the tire treads, as it would make them slippery), adding that perfect finishing touch that looks sleek while still being environmentally friendly.

Your final step: Roll down those windows and put on your favorite song, and take that clean machine for a spin!

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