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11 Tips for Keeping a Clean Car

Keeping your car clean can be difficult. There are dirt roads, messy trees, pet hair and food crumbs. Here are 11 tips for keeping a clean car.

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shutterstock_102141655 coke a cola pop soda bottlemaradon 333/Shutterstock

Remove Bugs with Cola

If your windshield wipers aren’t doing a good job in cutting through the stuck on dirt, grab a can or bottle of cola and a damp cloth. Cola breaks up those sticky windshield bugs and can also cut through grime from dusty roads. Just pour the soda on a rag and wash the windshield, then give it a good rinse with water.

Photo: maradon 333/Shutterstock

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shutterstock_2477262 paint stir sticks samplesChad McDermott/Shutterstock

Use a Paint Stick

You know those unused paint stir sticks sitting in the garage? They’ll help clean those nooks and crannies inside your car. Spray the area (such as between seat cushions or between the seat and the center console) with an all-purpose cleaner and let it sit for a couple minutes. Then grab a paint stick, cover it with a microfiber towel or rag and wipe the area.

Photo: Chad McDermott/Shutterstock

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shutterstock_682525024 toothbrushesboyisteady/Shutterstock

Grab a Toothbrush

An old toothbrush will make quick work of dried-on liquids or food crumbs in the cracks of the seats. Sprinkle the area with a little baking soda and water and scrub away until you have a clean car.

Photo: boyisteady/Shutterstock

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shutterstock_245012128 cream of tartarEnlightened Media/Shutterstock

Cream of Tartar for Dirt

All the dirt and mud from rural roads can really build up quickly. To cut through the dirt on the outside of your car and on the windshield, sprinkle some cream of tartar on the area and wipe it clean with soapy water. Then rinse the area with clean water. Be sure to read our guide for spring cleaning your car.

Photo: Enlightened Media/Shutterstock

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shutterstock_331376426 dog pet in car ride convertible oneinchpunch/Shutterstock

Remove Pet Fur

Fido may like road trips, but his fur leaves a mess behind in your clean car. To collect that fur, blow up a balloon and rub it around in the car to create static electricity. The static will help lift away all that pet fur.

Photo: oneinchpunch/Shutterstock

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shutterstock_1541687 air spraypmphoto/Shutterstock

Clean Vents with Air

Grab a can of compressed air and blast the dust from your car’s air vents. To freshen up the car’s air, apply some essential oils on a cotton ball and wipe down the vents.

Photo: pmphoto/Shutterstock

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shutterstock_623932547 baby wipes to clean carYevhen Prozhyrko/Shutterstock

Baby Wipes for Quick Cleaning

Keep a package of baby wipes in your car’s glove compartment. Use the wipes to clean up spills as they happen. You can also use the wipes to clean your windshield.

Photo: Yevhen Prozhyrko/Shutterstock

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shutterstock_313801505 screwdriverNaruedom Yaempongsa/Shutterstock

Screwdriver for the Dashboard

The dashboard and console can be one of the most difficult areas of the car to clean because of all the angles and grooves. Grab a flat-head screwdriver and cover the end with a clean cloth. Use the cloth-covered end to get in all the tough-to-to clean spots.

Photo: Naruedom Yaempongsa/Shutterstock

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shutterstock_98283779 pollenRob Byron/Shutterstock

Remove Pollen Buildup

Pollen buildup on your vehicle should be dealt with quickly, don’t just wait for the next rain storm or for pollen season to end. To remove pollen, wash your car as you normally would. To help prevent some of the buildup and making the next wash a little easier, apply a layer of wax to protect the finish. This process should also be used for any sticky leaves or debris from messy trees.

Photo: Rob Byron/Shutterstock

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No-spill grocery bags bungee cordFamily Handyman

Bungee Cords and Tarps

To help keep your trunk or hatchback clean, keep a few bungee cords and a tarp (or an old blanket) in your car. Use the bungee cords to keep items from spilling or falling over. The tarp can be used to put under any items that may leave a stain inside your clean car.

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shutterstock_238523398 silicone cupcake cupsMAHATHIR MOHD YASIN/Shutterstock

Prevent Messes

To prevent messes, use silicone baking cups in your cup holders to help prevent grime from building up after spills. (Paper baking cups will not hold up to much moisture.) Also, keep a small trash bag or can in your car to collect garbage.

Photo: MAHATHIR MOHD YASIN/Shutterstock

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.