So you love your car and take it everywhere with you and you try to keep it as clean as possible. I know I do with bi-weekly car washes, more if there is bad weather like snow and salt. But then you are getting in with your coffee and BAM, you spill it all over your seats, or your loving child in the back decides to throw their sippy cup with milk and it explodes, and no one wants old milk in their seats because that turns rancid real quick. Or you have little ‘artists’ who draw on everything, including where they are sitting. It’s a hassle but you know that having a clean interior means it smells better, and a better resale value when you do want to trade it in for a newer model (when the kids are older and they don’t need to be in there).
So how do you keep it clean? How do you get those annoying stains out that just stare at you day in and day out? Here’s some tips that can help.
Start Small With Baby Wipes
Don’t laugh; baby wipes are literally for everything. As a parent I use them for everything from cleaning my dashboard every once in a while, to wiping down the doors and such in order to keep them kind of clean in between my actual cleaning. But they can also be good for cleaning any kinds of stain. You can rub them on the stain, or even as I generally do, lay them flat on the stain with something heavier on top of it for a bit, let the stain literally soak into the wipe from the pressure. Then take a clean one and wipe them down afterwards. If that doesn’t completely work, move on to something else.
Baking Soda & Vinegar Mixture
This is a bit more of a process. Make a paste of ¼ cup baking soda and warm water. Then also make a spray bottle with warm water, some dish detergent (I’m a fan of blue Dawn), and ¼ cup white vinegar. Take both the paste and the bottle to the car. Using a toothbrush, brush the baking soda paste on the stains and leave it there for 30 minutes then blot them with a dry towel getting up as much liquid as possible. Next spray the vinegar mixture and spray everything then brush it in with a stiff brush. Leave for 15 minutes then blot as dry as you can with another dry clean towel. Open the windows and the sunroof and air it out (preferably all day or if you have a garage, overnight), until the smell is gone and you should have clean seats.
Hair Spray or Window Cleaner
You’d be surprised the things you can use to clean. For ink stains you can spray hair spray on the ink (after testing a small area just in case it affects the color), let it soak in for a few minutes, wipe off and repeat until the stain is gone. Window cleaner does a good job of getting a lot of different types of stains out as well. Spray with the cleaner (again test the surface first) leave for 5 minutes, and blot clean.
Invest in a Carpet Cleaner with a Hose/Hand Attachment
I’m very serious about this one. I use my carpet cleaner all the time in my cars. I have a child, a dog, and I drink coffee and can be clumsy. So I bought it for the home. However, I use it when I need to refresh the seats as well as when they have stains. They have sprays that you can spray first and let sit and then use the cleaner to scrub and get the water and dirt sucked up. It works for everything. The only thing I don’t use it on is the car seat but that’s a whole other story.
Prevent Stains or Clean Them Up Relatively Quickly
Of course I had to add that when you are trying to clean it, you’ll want to try and prevent staining in the future. Vacuum regularly, don’t smoke in the car, wash down leather with water and a little bit of soap and then condition them regularly and take it to get detailed every once in awhile. If you do spill something, clean it up immediately or soon after that so that it doesn’t stain. The quicker you take care of it, the less it will stain, the less scrubbing you’ll have in the future.
Keeping a car clean can be hard work. I try very hard, but it’s all about prevention and taking care of the issues when they first happen. Of course if you buy used you’ll want to go ahead and do all this to your new to you car so that it looks, smells, and feels brand new inside.