Person Spring Cleaning a car in the field
Image by MakeSpace

Spring Cleaning Your Vehicle

As the colder temperatures fade into springtime, we frequently open the windows and give our houses a good cleaning. So why not do the same for our vehicles? The idea of starting fresh after months of cold, snowy weather is a welcomed change, and it’s time for spring cleaning! Clean your car of dirt, salt, and residue. 

The cleaning process might be one we dread, but the finished product makes it worth it. Kick-off spring cleaning with a new, clutter-free vehicle. 

11 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Vehicle

Start on the Inside:

It’s easier to start on the inside and work your way out. That way, anything you do on the inside won’t scuff up a fresh layer of wax or get dirt on the exterior. 

1. Take out the trash.

It is easy for your vehicle to get cluttered with old receipts, fast food wrappers, empty water bottles, or snack bags. If you have children, you know it’s inevitable that there are crumbs and snack food wrappers to be found. Get a trash bag and empty all the trash from your car. 

2. Wipe Down Surfaces.

Use a microfiber towel and gentle cleaner or interior car cleaner to wipe off any and all hard surfaces. This will wipe away dush, drink spills, sticky messes – whatever might not come up with a vacuum. If you don’t have a gentle cleaner, baby wipes will do the trick. 

3. Brush and Vacuum Carpets.

Use a gentle brush, remove dirt and dust particles from ventilation areas, buttons, cracks, and all nooks and crannies from the seat cushions. Use a vacuum to remove all the dirt and dust. In the small spaces, using a dusting cloth and your hand might work best. 

4. Wash and Vacuum Floor Mats.

Remove all floor mats from your car. If you have rubber mats, wash with soap and water and leave them out to dry. For carpeted floor mats, use a gentle carpet cleaner or even a carpet steam cleaner to remove all dirt and residue from the mats – mud, sand, gravel. Every little thing can get caught in the fibers. Leave the mats out to dry completely before putting them back in the vehicle. Use that time to vacuum the entire vehicle’s entire floor. Be sure to move seats forward and back to ensure maximum cleanliness.

5. Organize the trunk.

The back of your SUV or trunk of the car is where most clutter ends up. This is because you can’t see it and lacks storage space. Get simple car organizers to help minimize clutter like chapstick, umbrellas, and even entertainment for the kids. Organizers that hang from seatbacks allow kids to reach toys, snacks, or even diapers and wipes. Bins and trunk organizers keep things like grocery bags, ice scrapers, and gear like tools or jumper cables all in one place.

6. Reduce bad smells.

Even the cleanest of cars can get a musty smell after a while. Add in fast-food wrappers, crumbs, old drink bottles, and that smell can get pretty offensive. Place a small odor eliminator under the driver’s seat to help keep your vehicle smelling fresh and clean.

The Exterior:

The rule of thumb when detailing the exterior of a vehicle is to work your way up: start at your tires and finish with windows. 

1. Shine the Tires.

Use a non-acid-based tire cleaner. You can use a degreaser to get your tires looking brand new. Be careful around the paint so it does not get damaged.

2. Hand wash.

When doing a deep clean, hand-washing your car is your best bet. Use a car wash solution and not a detergent or dish soap, as they can strip wax coatings and ruin the paint. When you are rinsing the soap off, don’t forget to hose off the underbody of your vehicle.

3. Dry Your Car.

Don’t rely upon the sun to “air dry” your vehicle; you’ll end up with water spots. Use a microfiber cloth and silicone squeegee to dry your car. 

4. Polish and Wax.

You can use paint polish or car wax. You can use an electric buffer with a microfiber cover, but if you don’t have one, doing it by hand works just as well. Finish with sealing wax to help protect your car’s paint against the elements.

5. Windows and glass.

Wash and shine your windows and glass last to prevent them from getting dirty while washing or waxing. It is best to use a gentle ammonia-free, streak-free window and glass cleaner with a microfiber cloth. Don’t forget to clean the interior and exterior of the windows, as well as the top of the windows that collect dirt and grime when your windows are down.