If you commute, run a lot of errands, or have school-age kids, chances are you spend quite a bit of time in your car. And if you spend a lot of time in your car, it’s nearly impossible to keep it clean! So your options are either to take it to an auto detailer (which is almost always going to be expensive), or you can buckle down and clean it yourself.
But there’s good news on that front – cleaning your car doesn’t have to be hard, take a ton of time, or cost a lot of money! I’ve collected several car cleaning tips and tricks over the years that will help make this chore a breeze. So whether you’re maintaining a clean car, or deep-cleaning a dirty car, these 17 tips will help you get your car clean in no time!
17 Brilliant & Useful Car Cleaning Hacks
1. DIY Car Upholstery Cleaner
Make your own car upholstery cleaning solution to help you tackle muddy mats, carpets, and any dingy spots on your car seats. It’s a great way to save money, and it works great too!
Get the directions (as well as before-and-after photos of this DIY cleaner in action) at this link.
2. DIY Armor-All Wipes
You can also make your own car-friendly cleaning wipes quite easily! Use them to clean and condition the vinyl surfaces in your car’s interior, like the dashboard and center console, or even to shine your wheels. Learn how to make them here.
3. Dealing With Dust
A can of compressed air makes short work of dusty air vents and other small crevices.
4. Cleaning Crevices
For dust and dirt that stubbornly clings to your vents or other hard-to-clean areas, dampen a small sponge brush with your cleaning solution of choice and wipe the dirt away. (If you don’t have a sponge brush on hand, you can always use cotton balls or swabs as well!)
5. Erase Stubborn Grime
Use a Magic Eraser to scrub away stubborn dirt, dust, and grime in your car. It’s particularly effective on plastic and vinyl surfaces, and you can even use it on leather seats (as long as you’re extra gentle!)
6. Scrub Ground-In Dirt
If you have textured vinyl in your car, you may have dirt that’s ground in to all those nooks and crannies. An old toothbrush can help you scrub deep into textured surface for a more thorough clean!
7. Windshield Helper
That grimy film that forms on the inside of car windshields is one of my pet peeves! But this handy microfiber windshield cleaner tool takes care of the grime in seconds. I keep this tool in my glove box, because it’s also useful for wiping away condensation during the winter.
8. Cereal Container Trash Can
Line a plastic cereal container with a grocery bag and use it as an in-car trash can. Especially useful for long drives with the family!
9. Line Your Cup Holders
No one enjoys cleaning up the gunk that invariably winds up in the bottom of our cup holders. Avoid it entirely by placing silicone muffin cups at the bottom of each cup holder. When they get sticky or dirty, you can just swap them out for clean ones—no frustrating scrubbing required!
10. Keep Wipes On Hand
For the messes that miss the cup holders, keep a small pack of auto cleaner wipes in your glove box. They only cost a few dollars, and you’ll have a lot more peace of mind knowing that you’re ready for any messy emergency!
11. Cover The Back Seat
If you have a furry friend who loves car rides, you may want to invest in a back-seat pet hammock to help keep your car clean! Many of these pet hammocks have buckles, so putting it in the car only takes a few seconds. You can buy one online here, or get instructions on how to make one at home here.
12. Get Organized
Keep all of your important car documents, such as your registration, insurance card, and owner’s manual, organized and clean by keeping them in an organizer. This one I found on Amazon even has a small pad of paper, in case you ever need to swap insurance info with another driver.
13. Wax Your Car
Getting your car waxed (or doing it yourself!) a couple of times a year can go a long way toward helping to keep it clean. Dust and dirt will lift away easily when you go through the wash, and it will also help protect your paint job!
14. Remove Stickers
Use a razor blade to remove old stickers from your car. Hold the blade (carefully!) at an angle, and gently push it under the edge of the sticker. Keep pushing until you’ve removed a section, then repeat until the whole sticker is gone.
15. Get Rid Of Bug Splatters
Instead of scrubbing and potentially damaging your car’s paint job, go grab your can of cooking spray! Spray a bit onto the stubborn bug, wait a few seconds, then use a microfiber cloth to wipe the area clean.
16. Box It Up
I like to keep a small box in the back of my car to corral gear like washer fluid, jumper cables, my ice scraper, and more. It keeps them from rolling around noisily in the back of my car.
17. Keep It Fresh
Part of keeping a clean car is making sure it smells clean too, and a car diffuser is the perfect tool for the job! Just add a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s) to the pad and plug it in to keep your car smelling fresh.
For those who prefer a more hands-on approach, check out 3 easy options for DIY car air fresheners here.
18. Clean Your Cup Holders
Looking for a quick way to clean out grimy cupholders? Grab a jar that fits your cup holder, a clean sock (the fluffier, the better!), and some glass cleaner. Put the sock over the bottom of the jar, spray the cleaner onto the sock, then press the jar into your cup holder and twist.
The cleaner will cut through gunk and grime and the sock will wipe it away! Get more details here.
Do you have any easy hacks for cleaning your car (or keeping it clean?)