Want to know How To Clean Your Car At Home? Read our 7 tips and get tutorials on how to make your own homemade cleaning products too! Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Kimberly-Clark and The Motherhood.
Today, I opened the back door of my car and almost fainted. I was on my daughter’s side and it looked like a tornado ripped through the back seat. There were empty wrappers tossed all over the floor, half-naked dolls shoved into the back seat pocket, an old milk box shoved in the side door (Ewww!), and enough cracker crumbs in her car seat to feed an entire army of mice for weeks on end.
She took the bus to school today which is why she wasn’t present for this unveiling of “The Motherlode of All Car Seat Messes,” but I still had to take my son to school. Thursdays are saxophone lessons so I drive him so he doesn’t have to squish into the bus with his instrument. Anyways, I was so grossed out by the mess that I promptly yanked her car seat out of the car so I could wash it while she was at school.
Luckily, it’s gorgeous out today, which means that I can give my car a much-needed spring cleaning this afternoon. I was planning on doing it this weekend, but after seeing her side of the car this morning, I can’t put it off any longer.
But before you think we’re a gross family of slobs, let me explain. I’m a Mom. I’m responsible for getting the kids to-and-from school, to-and-from after school practices, and to-and-from pretty much anywhere else they need to go. So, I drive the Mom-mobile and with all of the driving I do each week, who really has time to worry about keeping it clean? Not me, and so the Mom-mobile gets a bit gross every now and then.
Ordinarily, I would have the kids help me out with this mess. I’m pretty big on making them take responsibility for their actions and since I’m not the one tossing cracker crumbs everywhere, they should help out, but they’re at school, so they’re getting a pass…this time.
I actually like cleaning my car, but not everyone does. Some people think it’s a hassle, but it doesn’t have to be! It’s oddly therapeutic and I love seeing all of the dirt and grime disappear. But, in case you think it’s too overwhelming to conquer on your own, I have a few tips and tricks for you to make the job as painless as possible!
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR CAR AT HOME
1.) Remove the boosters and car seats.
Take this time to clean the fabric on your boosters and car seats. They can get pretty gnarly if you have to eat on the go like we do. As I yanked my daughter’s out today, I found some sticky residue on my leather car seats that can only be a melted lollipop. Gross.
2.) Get a big black garbage bag.
The next thing I do in the Mom-mobile is throw out all of the trash. I think it’s gross that there’s trash in my car in the first place, so I want it out as soon as possible. If I find any plastic bottles, I just toss them onto the lawn so I can dump them in the recycling bin. Once all of the rubbish is out, I can start to relax a bit.
Mom Tip: I hide recycled plastic grocery bags in the glove compartment and back seat pockets so that we can all take out the trash as we come across it. Sometimes it works, and sometimes they just ignore me, which is why we’re here.
3.) Wipe down all of the surfaces with a damp paper towel.
I am always amazed at the amount of dust that ends up in my car. Seriously, dust fairies must sneak in each night and shake the stuff all over the inside of my car. Dust is bad and just leaves me sneezing on my morning car rides, so its got to go. I like to clean the dust up first so it doesn’t spread everywhere. Don’t forget to wipe down the vents too!
After I’ve wiped the hard surfaces down with a damp paper towel, I then go back over them with a homemade cleaning solution. It’s nothing fancy – I just mix equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol together and shake. Then I spray it onto a paper towel and go back over the hard surfaces again.
Mom Tip: I swear by Viva® paper towels. Seriously, I should own stock in them. The Viva® Vantage ones are awesome at tough jobs like getting out mystery stains because of their really scrubby texture and the regular Viva® Towels are perfect for cleaning windows because of their soft and smooth texture. Plus, they’re strong and durable like cloth so they really stand up to any cleaning job I throw their way.
4.) Clean the seats and the floors.
Next up? The vacuum. There are way too many bits and pieces of crackers, cookies and God-knows-what-else stuck in the cracks and crevices of the seats, so I just suck them all up with my hand dandy vacuum cleaner. I do the seats first, then the floor. Actually, I take the floor mats out first and toss them on the lawn. Classy, right? So in case you weren’t following me – remove your floor mats first, then vacuum the seats and then the floor.
After I’ve sucked all of the junk up (Bye, bye, broken crayons!), I then wipe down the leather seats and tackle any nasty stains that may still be lingering. If regular old water and paper towels don’t do the trick, I’ve found that gently scrubbing a mystery stain with a mild toothpaste will almost always do the job. But please test this in an inconspicuous spot first; there’s always the chance that it could lift the stain from your leather.
5.) Tackle the floor mats.
On good days, I can get away with just vacuuming the floor mats. On bad days, like today, they’re filthy and need all of the help they can get. I need to give them a solid scrubbing, so it’s time to bring out the big guns.
If there are any greasy-looking stains set in the fabric, I tackle them with cornstarch first. I let it set for about 30 minutes and then I vacuum the cornstarch off. You can also make a paste of cornstarch and water: apply it, wait until the powder has dried, and then vacuum it off completely.
It would be lovely if this always worked, but it doesn’t. So if the stain is still there, I then make a mixture of equal parts of vinegar and water and apply that to the stain. I soak the fabric and let it sink it for a few minutes and then I blot it up with a paper towel.
If these two options don’t work, then I move on to my heavy duty cleaner: one cup of liquid dish soap mixed with one cup white vinegar and one cup club soda. I spray the stain (a lot) and then scrub it with a scrub brush until it’s gone.
If that doesn’t work, I don’t care anymore and I just let the mats dry before putting them back into the car.
6.) Clean Your Windows.
My windows always have fingerprints on them. Why? My daughter. She has to sit in the car with me for about twenty minutes each day while we wait for her brother to get out of school. During this time, I beg her to start her homework, but she likes to have a car shaking, booty rocking, dance party in my front seat instead. Every. Single. Afternoon. But why the fingerprints? Well, dancing in the front seat of the car is hard work and sometimes you lose your balance and need to fall against the windshield and touch every piece of glass you can.
Since I’m a pro at cleaning up dirty fingerprints, I recommend mixing up a homemade solution of one cup of water, a half cup of white vinegar and a quarter cup of rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Gently shake to mix before each use. Try to clean your windows from top to bottom to avoid streaks.
Mom Tip: I like to clean my windows twice. The first time is just to get the junk off. The second time, I grab a new set of paper towels and dry and buff to avoid spreading dirt and grime all over the windows again.
7.) Cleanse the air.
If you have kids (or pets), your car smells. It’s not your fault. But they’re stinky little gremlins and you need to tackle the stink head on. I use my homemade carpet freshener as a car deodorizer too. Just grab an old mason jar and punch some holes in the lid. Then fill it with baking soda and at least 10 drops of essential oil. Truth be told – I usually go with 20 drops because I have dogs and kids! The scent is up to you, but I really dig lavender or tangerine for spring! To keep the jar from spilling, I place it snugly into one of the drink holders in the third row.
Well, I think that just about covers the inside of the car. That’s as far as I got today, so the outside will just have to wait until tomorrow. Before I go, I just wanted to let you all know that I always find really great deals on cleaning supplies like Viva®, Scott®, and Cottonelle® products at my local Walmart; it really is a one-stop shop for all your cleaning and organization essentials.
Do you think I missed anything? How do you like to clean the inside of your car? Share your thoughts with us below.
Happy spring cleaning,
Want to find these brands online? Visit them at the links below:
- Viva®: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
- Cottonelle®: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram
- Scott®: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest