Few people enjoy cleaning their car, but most people will admit that once they’re done cleaning, they’re glad they did it. That’s why it’s worthwhile finding new tricks to help you clean your car quicker and more effectively. There’s no reason to work harder when you can work smarter, which is just what we’re looking to help you with. Read on to find 20 ways to clean your car the smart way.

Do your homework


Before doing anything, you should make sure you understand what you’re cleaning and what you’re cleaning with. Vinyl and leather and fabric require different cleaning products. If you mix up your methods, you can end up permanently damaging your interior. Read any tags, instructions, and manuals you can find to figure out the best way to clean your vehicle. If you can’t find any material like this consider visiting a professional who can give you advice.

Empty the vehicle before cleaning


No one likes to do any more cleaning than they have to but a little bit of effort in the beginning can prevent a lot of trouble further on. By removing things like floor mats and anything else that can be removed the whole cleaning process can go much more smoothly. Cleaning around clutter will end up taking longer in the long run than cleaning the car out in the first place. Every little trip might only take a few minutes but it all adds up.

Start by collecting your supplies


Take the time to gather up everything you might need before you start cleaning. If you just jump into cleaning you might find that you need to constantly stop to go and search for supplies.

Clean glass with soda


Ever tried to pry bug guts off your windshield with regular old water? It can be difficult and unpleasant work. If you want to get sticky substances off the glass of your windshield and lights, then you should consider pouring on some cola. The acidic makeup of sugary drinks helps to loosen the bonds between glass and any caked-on debris. Just be careful, you don’t want to let the soda get onto the paint or soak for too long, or it will be more trouble than it’s worth. Apply carefully and rinse and remove as soon as possible.

Remove marks with rubbing alcohol


No one likes stubborn filth and grime. If water isn’t removing marks and scuffs from the vinyl in your car, consider using a bit of rubbing alcohol. A little bit of rubbing alcohol and some careful scrubbing can remove grime, oil, and even ink. Just don’t let it get on paint as the alcohol can eat away at it.

Clean your tires with water-based products


If you want to go above-and-beyond when cleaning your tires, you need to be careful about the products you choose. Tire dressings can add an extra sheen to your tires but if you don’t choose the right product you can actually damage them. Letting products made from oil and petroleum soak on your tires can eat away at them! Read the label and make sure that you only use water-based tire dressing if you want to keep your tires in pristine condition.

Clean upholstery with detergent


If you want to go a step up from generic soap, you can give your upholstery a deeper clean by using a little bit of detergent. Just make sure that you use a diluted application of a mild brand. If you mix up eight parts water with one part detergent and apply it with a spray bottle, you can really clean up your interior. Remember, don’t let it soak for long. Rinse and wipe it away quickly after spraying it.

Clean leather with leather conditioner


Leather isn’t like other materials; it needs to be treated properly if you want it to last. Don’t use just any cleaning solution on leather, invest in leather conditioner. Also, make sure that you use a soft cloth to apply any cleaning solution, leather may look durable but if it gets scratched there can be serious trouble down the road.

Get the most out of an old sock


Why buy cleaning gloves when you have perfectly useful substitutes on hand? Cotton socks are great for cleaning, dirt sticks to them, they’re flexible, and they’re as cheap as you can get. They give you the flexibility of cleaning by hand without allowing dirt to get in under your nails.

Bring some toothpicks


Toothpicks are great for getting debris out from tight spaces, whether they’re prying food from between your teeth or getting filth out of your car. If you want to clean in tight areas, you can wrap a tissue around a toothpick and slide it in. Just be careful not to be too rough, you don’t want the toothpick breaking and leaving splinters stuck in your car.

Remove odors with charcoal


Have you found that normal air fresheners aren’t cutting it anymore? Odors are caused by particles that can sink deep into your car. The longer they’ve been around, the harder they are to deal with. To deodorize the natural way, you should invest in a charcoal air freshener. Just leaving an open bag of charcoal on the floor of your car can freshen things up. Just make sure it doesn’t spill and create a mess.

Use a clay bar when waxing


If you’re planning on polishing or waxing, you need to invest in a clay bar. Clay will help you remove small particles that might still be clinging to your car even after a good rinsing. Wax and polish will seal in anything left on your car, make sure that it’s as clean as it can be by going over it with clay.

Clean with two towels


It’s tempting to try and clean your entire car with just one towel, but this is a mistake. Too many people think they’re cleaning but are actually just moving dirt around the car. Wet one towel and use it to clean while you use another towel to wipe the surface down. If you can get the hang of using a towel in both hands, you can use this method as quickly as you can clean with a single towel. Even if it does take longer, it will leave you with a more complete clean.

Was with two buckets


Once again, sometimes two is better than one. When washing the exterior of your car you need to start by applying warm, soapy water and then rinsing it with regular water. If you don’t rinse you will leave a soapy film on your car. Some people try to wash the whole car with soapy water and then rinse the whole car but it’s easy to miss out on areas using this method. By using two bucks and alternating between washing and rinsing you can ensure that your car gets the most thorough wash possible.

Use both vertical and horizontal motions when cleaning


Streaky windows are usually caused by lazy cleaning. If you only move your cloth up and down or right or left then you’re probably going to leave streaks. It might seem like it takes more time to go back over the window you just cleaned but in the end, you’ll save time by doing it right the first time.

Use a stiff brush before vacuuming inside


If you don’t regularly vacuum your car’s interior then dirt, dried skin, and other debris particles have had plenty of time to dig deep into your upholstery. Just vacuuming won’t be enough to suck it all out. If you want to clean your car thoroughly, you need to start by loosening everything up with a stiff brush. Also, remember to start brushing high and move low. If you start at the carpeting and move up to the headrest, then the dirt will just fall down onto the areas you’ve already cleaned.

Clean up pet fur with wet latex gloves


Most people love animals, but almost no one loves cleaning up after them. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be too time-consuming, a pair of latex gloves and some water can speed things up. When latex and water combine, they create a sort of fur magnet that will help you get stubborn fur and hair out of your car’s interior.

Pick up coins


You might think that it’s convenient to have loose change in your car at all times, but it can actually be damaging your vehicle. Coins can rub up against the interior of your car and scratch it up. They can also sink into narrow spaces and rattle around. Don’t let coins hang out on the floor, keep them in a cup holder or put them in your pocket.

Choose your drying cloth carefully


Not all towels are created equally. Thin towels can actually push remaining filth into your car and cause more trouble. If you use a high-pile fabric, you can use this last step to remove remaining debris.

Clean the areas you can’t see


Don’t forget to clean out the trunk, glovebox, and other out of the way areas. Even if you don’t care about the dirt gathering in these areas you should think about the odor particles that gather in these parts of the car. A lot of people forget to clean these areas and end up wondering why their car stinks after they’ve spent hours cleaning it.