Zero to 60: spring clean your car in under an hour
There’s nothing like going for a drive on a gorgeous spring day. And that drive – windows down, of course – is even more satisfying when the sun glints off the hood of your freshly washed car.
Getting rid of winter’s dirt and grime can be a time-consuming endeavor, but a smart approach and a few time-saving hacks will put your automotive spring cleaning on the fast track. Follow these tips and you’ll be enjoying the wind in your hair in no time.
0:00 to 0:05 – Gather your supplies.
Taking five minutes to get it all together right now will save at least that much time as you avoid back-and-forth trips at each stage of the game. Remember the basics (car wash soap, sponges, glass cleaner) but don’t forget items for deep cleaning too (upholstery cleaner, deodorizer, a small brush for crevices).
0:05 to 0:10 – Take out the trash.
When you gather supplies, make sure you grab a plastic bag you can use to collect the trash hiding in nooks and crannies throughout your vehicle. (The more kids you have in your car on a regular basis, the more plastic bags you’re likely to need!) Use this five minutes to pull out the floor mats too.
0:10 to 0:25 – Start on the inside.
Banish dust and dirt from every surface using your vacuum, adding the crevice tool to get in hard-to-reach spaces. Here’s a hack to try: hold the vacuum hose in one hand and use a clean, small brush in the other to sweep dust from air vents and other crevices on the dash. This will prevent the dust from settling on other surfaces in the car. Clean the inside of your windows and your windshield using straight, even strokes to prevent streaks.
0:25 to 0:40 – Deep clean the upholstery.
If you have leather seats, this could be as simple as wiping them down with a damp cloth. If you’re a mini-van driver with cloth seats it’s likely that you’ll need to give it some more intense TLC. There’s no need for specialized upholstery cleaners, however, dish soap dissolved in warm water can tackle most of the everyday dirt that gathers on your seats, and adding some washing soda to the mix gives it even more cleaning power.
0:40 to 0:50 – Grab the hose.
It’s time to tackle the dirt and grime, starting at the top of your vehicle and working down. Spray everything down to loosen the dirt, then bring on the suds (specially formulated for washing cars, of course). Don’t forget the windows and the wheels, and remember to do your car washing in the shade to prevent soap from drying on the surface and leaving a dull finish. Pro tip: use two buckets – one with soapy water and one with clean water for rinsing your washing mitt before you dip it in the sudsy bucket again.
0:50 to 0:60 – The finishing touches.
Use a high-quality microfiber cloth to dry your car and prevent spotting. Clean the outside of the windows and the windshield with a separate microfiber cloth, again using long strokes to avoid streaks. If you washed your cloth seats during the interior cleaning, roll the windows down to allow everything to air dry. Drop a dryer sheet under your seat to keep your car smelling fresh.
And don’t forget the final step: Hit the road!