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As a mom of three kids, my car is always a disaster. The minivan regularly looks like we have just returned from a monthlong camping trip, even though we’ve only been zooming about town. In fact, one of my most embarrassing parenting moments was when my son’s preschool friend saw a mound of Goldfish crackers on the floor of our car and yelled to his mom, “Look, snacks!” It was a cringe moment for sure. I needed car cleaning hacks, and I needed them ASAP.
Whether you have the spring cleaning bug (hey, it could be fall, just go with your heart), or you realize your vehicle needs a major polish, it’s time to make some changes. These car cleaning hacks use a lot of products you already have at home. And they should ultimately help it look like you just detailed your ride (even though you did it for cheap).
If you’re not into using toothpaste and hair conditioner to clean (yep, we suggest those for some jobs below), check out these deals on cleaning supplies. And don’t forget to download The Krazy Coupon Lady app for ways to save on all the things.
1. Wash your car with hair conditioner.
Washing your car with hair conditioner is definitely a thing, and a lot of people do it as a cheap and effective way to clean their car and make it shine. The reasoning behind it is simple: hair conditioner helps remove dirt and grime from your car’s surface, leaving it looking clean and shiny. The ingredient that helps make it shine is lanolin, a type of wax. It’s recommended to test a conditioner on a small patch of your car to make sure it won’t damage the paint on the whole darn thing.
2. Wipe down the interior of your car with a coffee filter.
Who knew you could do some heavy car cleaning with coffee filters? Coffee filters are made of a lint-free paper that is perfect for dusting!
3. Get rid of dead bugs on the front of your car with cooking spray.
Apply cooking spray to a car grille and bumper, then use a clean microfiber cloth to rub those buggers away.
4. Or use dryer sheets for car cleaning and to get dead bugs off your grille.
If you’re running low on cooking spray or simply don’t like the idea of using it on your car, grab a dryer sheet to spruce up your car. It can be just as effective in removing those dead bugs from a grille as the other option.
5. Clean wiper blades with rubbing alcohol to prevent smears on your windshield.
This is one of those car cleaning hacks that also helps you stay on the road safely. Use a cotton ball or cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol to wipe your car’s blades. Gently rub the alcohol onto the rubber part of the wiper blades, making sure to get rid of any built-up dirt, grime, or debris.
6. Use baking soda toothpaste to rub away the grime on headlights.
Squeeze out a blob of toothpaste onto a rag and rub the paste all over headlights. The abrasive texture of the baking soda will help buff away grime.
Rinse headlights with water. Then repeat as necessary to get them super clean.
7. Dust your A/C vents with a foam craft brush.
Have you ever wondered what you can use to clean dust from the crevices of your air conditioning vents? Surprisingly, the answer is in the craft aisle of the dollar store. A foam craft brush is the perfect size and material to remove dust and debris from this space.
8. Or blast the dust out of vents and carpeted corners with a can of compressed air.
Blowing dust and debris out from vents and the corners of your car’s floor will make it easier to vacuum. See, it’s not just for cleaning a keyboard!
Related:11 Sanity-Saving Road Trip Hacks
9. Then make your own air freshener by applying five to 10 drops of essential oil onto a clothespin.
If you’ve never found a car air freshener scent you really love, make your own. Using a just a few drops of your favorite essential oil, place them on the “pinched” end of a clothespin. Then attach the clothespin to your a/c vent. Voila!
10. Or make your car smell good with pineapple skins.
Wait, what? Okay, so this might sound like a weird one, but stick with us. If you want your car to smell like it’s just back from a tropical vacation, add pineapple rind to a zip-top bag. Leave the bag on your dashboard just above your a/c vents for one to two days for a citrusy scent.
Tip: Don’t leave the rinds too long. You don’t want the fragrance from its natural essential oils to become overpowering in your ride.
11. Use an old sock, Windex, and a travel cup to clean cupholders.
Between spills and crumbs, car cupholders can get seriously gross. And they always seemed so difficult to effectively clean, until now. Put an old sock over the bottom of a travel cup, spray with Windex, and twist to remove dirt and grime in cupholders. You’re welcome.
12. Brush dirt and grime out of the seams of your seats with a toothbrush.
If the seams of the seats in your car are filled with crumbs and dust, take a toothbrush to them to work that stuff out. Do this before you vacuum the car floor, as most of that debris will likely fall there.
Related: 9 Car Washes and Gas Stations with a Free Vacuum
13. Use wooden skewers or a flathead screwdriver and cloth to remove dirt from small crevices.
To really get into the nitty gritty lines and crevices of your car where debris loves to lurk, push it out with a wooden skewer or cloth-covered flathead screw driver. Using a cloth to cover the tool will help prevent creating any scrapes while you clean.
14. Condition your dashboard with Vaseline.
15. Clean your windshield and car windows with baby wipes.
Keep a pack in your glove compartment, especially on long road trips! Not only will they help clean up messes in a jiffy, but they also come in handy to clear away dirty from car windows. However we would not suggest using it on your car’s paint job, as they could harm the finish.
16. And don’t forget to roll down windows to clean the top edge with Windex.
In terms of car cleaning hacks, this should be a real no-brainer. That said, don’t ignore the tops of your windows when using a glass cleaner. Roll those bad boys down and give these tops a wipe down as well.