Between grimy windshields, funky odors, and sand-covered floors, summer can be tough on your car. Also, you don’t want to have to spend tons of money getting it cleaned. Thankfully, you can get your wheels spick-and-span in a flash using everyday household ingredients. Here’s how to clean a car quickly.
Grab baking soda to clean windows.
If your windshield is smeared with stuck-on grime, head to your pantry for some baking soda. “It’s mildly abrasive, lifting stubborn, stuck-on gunk, but it won’t harm the glass,” promises Ian Lang, senior car advice editor for Bumper.com. In a spray bottle, combine two to three tablespoons of baking soda and one drop of dish soap. Next, fill the bottle with hot water. Spray on your windshield and let it soak for a few minutes; rinse clean with your hose and the gunk will lift right off — no scrubbing needed.
Also smart: No baking soda? Pour on club soda. The bubbly beverage contains carbonic acid, which will eat through windshield dirt. Just spray it on, let it sit a few minutes and wipe clean.
Break out dryer sheets to bust odors.
If you love taking road trips or going on adventures with your pets, car odors likely build up fast. “It’s important to eliminate smells, not just cover them up with air freshener,” says auto mechanic Phillip Villegas (ThreePedalMafia.com). “Dryer sheets are a great way to do just that because they absorb and remove odors.” Simply open a box of your favorite scented dryer sheets and place one below your front seat; replace monthly to absorb odors all summer long.
Also smart: For especially stubborn smells, leave a cup or bowl of vinegar in your car overnight. The powerful antiseptic will kill odor-causing bacteria — and best of all, as the vinegar evaporates, so does its own strong scent!
Dust ’em with this to freshen carpets.
If you recently took a trip to the beach, chances are your car’s floors are looking a little worse for wear. “Sand and pollen are the ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ of the car carpet world,” says Emma Barton, founder of SteamCleanQueen.com. “Most vacuums won’t pick up these tiny particles because they get stuck in the carpet fibers.” The solution: baby powder. Sprinkle it over carpets, then vacuum — not only will the powder absorb oily stains, it will also break the bond between the sand and carpet fibers, making it easy for your vacuum to suck up the dirt.
Also smart: Consider swiping your car’s carpets with an old hairbrush — the speedy “grooming” will lift any pet hair.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.