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12 Tricks to Clean Your Car and Clear Your Mind

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By Madeline Klein on August 18, 2021 in Life Hacks

From road trips to late-night snack runs, we spend a lot of time in our cars, and that’s why it’s so important to have a clean, stress-free ride. It’s not just about looks; it’s also about health.

We're serious! When dirt, water residue, and bacteria grow it can lead to mold, which can cause serious health issues. On top of that, dirty windows and lights can impair your vision and lead to car accidents, especially on a rainy night. A messy car can also affect your mental health. Neuroscientists at Princeton University found that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress. OK we’re really starting to sound like a Debbie downer so here’s the good news, studies show that having a clean environment can improve your mood by 50 percent!

You know what that means! It’s time to clean up the mess and knock out that stress. Here are 12 tips to get that car clean.

1. Declutter

Get the trash out of the way first, and then use a separate bag or basket for all the non-trash items that don’t belong in your car. We have to get all the clutter out of the way before we get to the deep cleaning.

2. Use the vacuum and brush duster duo

Clean your car’s dashboard, buttons, knobs, shifter, and all the other hard-to-reach spots by using a fluffy craft brush to free the dust and a vacuum to simultaneously suck it up. Bonus: Use some car cleaning putty to get all the nooks and crannies!

3. Replace your cabin air filter

If your car has a removable cabin air filter, swap it out with a fresh one to get rid of stinky smells. For lingering car smells, sprinkle carpet and fabric upholstery with baking soda, let it sit, and then vacuum up!

4. Use a Magic Eraser

Gently rub the Magic Eraser to remove gunk, stains, and stickiness from the surfaces of your car.

5. Toothbrush detail scrubbing

To get the embedded dirt and stains, scrub over those stubborn areas with a toothbrush and dish soap.

6. Olive oil polish

Fill a cup with olive oil and use a paper towel to polish plastic and leather surfaces.

7. Water bottle and squeegee for hair removal

Start by spraying the upholstery with water, then run the squeegee over the material several times and finish with vacuuming.

8. Clean your floor mats

Spray floor mats with stain remover or soapy water and power wash them clean. If you don’t have access to a power washer, hit up the car wash for the self-service sprayers.

9. Vacuum your seats thoroughly

Use a fine-bristle brush to remove crumbs and dirt from your seat and then vacuum it all up.

10. Clean your windshield

Using the finest steel wool available, rub your window in circles to polish the glass and remove hard water stains, bugs, and other spots. Then put a small amount of RainX on a cloth and apply thoroughly to glass (avoid the paint). Let that sit for 10 minutes until dry and apply another coat. Let that coat dry then wet a towel and wipe off the windshield. Finish by drying the glass. Note: This only needs to be done 2-3 times a year.

11. Wipe your windshield wipers

To prevent a smeared windshield, wipe down your wipers with rubbing alcohol or your favorite window cleaner.

12. Clear your headlights

With a toothbrush and toothpaste, scrub your headlights using a circular motion to remove residue and fogginess.

Madeline Klein is Say's Digital Content Producer. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism, emphasis in Strategic Communication. Her experience is in writing and digital media. Madeline loves using her creativity to write and design new and exciting pieces of work for Say!