For my wife, keeping our cars clean has always been a priority. While she likes a shiny car on the outside, she’s more focused on keeping the interior spotless. I often joke with her that nobody can see the interior.

As we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, cleaning your car may have jumped up on your priority list. Or if you’re looking for something to do on a beautiful summer day, this project may be for you. No matter what the situation, here are some tips for cleaning your car inside and out.

1. Use the proper soap. When I was a kid, I washed my parent’s car all the time with dish detergent. It smelled good, was cheap, and produced a lot of bubbles. I thought, the more bubbles I had, the cleaner the car. Today, I only wash my cars with soap that has been specifically formulated for this. Check out your local auto parts store to see what products are available.

2. Control the dust.
Do you have dust rolling around in your car like a tumbleweed in the desert? If so, it’s time to bring in the reinforcements. To keep dust at a minimum, and to clean your car more effectively, using a brush and vacuum can help tremendously. For me, using paper towel and a spray cleaner is aggravating because it just smears dust around. Lastly, a small brush and vacuum do a great job cleaning nooks and crannies, as well as vents, radio knobs, or heat dials.

3. Sanitize high touch points.
You may think this is a challenging task because you don’t have access to disinfectant wipes or other cleaning products. However, there’s no need to worry. High touch point objects can simply be cleaned with soap and water. While dish soap isn’t the best for the exterior of your car, it works great for cleaning the interior. This is because dish soap is made with mild detergents which won’t damage interior materials. A clean rag or microfiber towel will do a fantastic job. Just make sure to ring it out prior to using it. You don’t want excess water pooling or seeping into places it shouldn’t be.

In the past, the only item you may have considered a high touch point was your steering wheel. Today, there are many more touch points to consider to keep your family healthy. Items include:

  • Seat belts
  • Cup holders
  • Radio knobs or dials
  • Touch screens
  • Door handles
  • Gear shifter
  • Steering wheel controls
  • Car seats

If you don’t enjoy cleaning your car on a regular basis, keep it germ free by using hand sanitizer before you get into your car.

Lastly, never use bleach or other harsh chemicals to clean your car.

4. Embrace the power of magic. My wife loves using the Magic Eraser for different household chores. At first, I was a bit skeptical, but now I’m a fan. If you have stubborn spots of dirt or grime in your car, give it a try. Don’t forget to squeeze out the excess water.

5. Conquer the Crumbs. If you have stubborn crumbs everywhere in your car that you just can’t get rid of, consider using a toothbrush. The bristles of a toothbrush may be just enough to loosen them and get them out of tiny places.

6. Don’t neglect your windshield wipers. Windshield wipers are critical to keeping you safe. Windshield wipers take a beating from the elements. Dirt, debris, and sunlight contribute to the breakdown of the wipers’ rubber blades. If your windshield wipers are leaving streaks, try cleaning them with rubbing alcohol. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to replace them.

7. Replace your cabin filter. If your car smells musty all the time, it may be time to change your cabin filter. The cabin air filter helps keep dust, dirt, pollen, bacteria, and other things from entering your car through the HVAC system. To keep your car smelling fresh, consider changing your filter yearly or every 12,000 miles. If you drive in dusty or polluted conditions, you may have to change it more regularly.

8. Buy a squeegee. If your pet loves riding in your car, it may be waiting by the door when it hears you grab the car keys. If you have fabric upholstery, after a few rides it may be time to for fur removal. Consider dampening the fabric with a light mist of water. Then, use a squeegee to remove the fur. Have a vacuum standing by to suck it up.

9. Wipe away those pesky bugs. If you’re like me, bug guts on the front of your car may drive you buggy. Bug guts are difficult to remove. Luckily, there are products available at your local auto store that can help. If you’re looking for a home remedy, give a bucket of warm water and fabric softener sheet a try.

10. Invest in cupcake liners. If you’re tired of the debris that collects in your cup holders, consider using cupcake liners. While it may not look pretty, once they fill up with debris, simply toss them in the garbage and insert new ones.