Keeping your car’s interior clean can sometimes feel like an uphill battle when you don’t have the right cleaners on hand. Cleaning products can be expensive and some cleaners use harsh chemicals that may pose certain health risks after frequent use.

While some commercially sold cleaning products are perfectly safe, there are some simple and effective cleaners that you can make up at home using common household ingredients and items at a fraction of the cost. You can store these homemade cleaners in small squeeze or spray bottles in the glove compartment of your car and have them on hand for spot cleaning at a moment’s notice.

To start off, invest in a few small spray and squeeze bottles that you can easily fit in your car. While most of these cleaners can be used with newspaper or paper towel, you may prefer to use a microfiber cloth instead so that you can wash and reuse it.

Part 1 of 3: Make Simple Windshield Cleaner

Materials Needed

  • Blackboard or whiteboard eraser
  • Lemon juice
  • Microfiber cloths or newspaper
  • Small spray bottles
  • Small squeeze bottles
  • Water
  • White vinegar

Step 1: Use a blackboard eraser. Purchase a white or blackboard eraser at any department store or craft store. These erasers are fairly cheap and some of them are ergonomically designed for easy use.

Use the eraser to buff out fingerprints or any small smudges on your windows or the inside of your windshield.

Step 2: Make a liquid cleaner. In a small spray bottle, combine equal parts of white vinegar and water with a few drops of lemon juice, and shake to combine. To use, simply spray the mixture on any dirty spots and wipe down with newspaper or a microfiber cloth.

This mixture can be used to clean up tougher residue on glass, or even on your dashboard.

  • Tip: Vinegar should never be used on aluminum, so exercise caution when using it near any metal parts.

Part 2 of 3: Make carpet and upholstery cleaners

Materials Needed

  • Baking soda
  • Essential oil of your choice (clear and not tinted)
  • Lemon juice
  • Microfiber cloths or newspaper
  • Salt
  • Small spray bottles
  • Small squeeze bottles
  • Toothbrush or any brush with stiff bristles
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • White vinegar

Step 1: Make a spot remover paste. In a small squeeze bottle, combine baking soda and enough white vinegar to form a thick paste.

To use, simply apply the paste directly on the stain, and then use a small brush with firm bristles to work it into the carpet or upholstery. Allow the paste to dry and then vacuum it up.

  • Tip: Before using, spot-test the paste on a small, hidden section of carpet and upholstery to ensure colorfastness.

Step 2: Mix up a deodorizer spray. Start off by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then add a bit of salt and a few drops of any tint-free essential oil that you like.

Shake vigorously to mix the spray and use it to clean and sanitize the upholstery. The essential oils will also leave behind a long-lasting fresh scent.

  • Tip: Always shake the bottle to combine the mixture before use.

Part 3 of 3: Make console/dashboard cleaners

Materials Needed

  • Lemon juice
  • Microfiber cloths or newspaper
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Small spray bottles
  • Small squeeze bottles
  • Toothbrush or any brush with stiff bristles
  • White vinegar

Step 1: Make a dashboard cleaner. In another spray bottle, combine equal parts of white vinegar and water. Shake the bottle to combine the mixture.

Spray the solution over the dashboard and center console and allow it to soak. Allow the material to soak for a few minutes before wiping it with a clean piece of newspaper or microfiber cloth.

  • Tip: You can use this solution on almost all materials. While you can use the cleaner on leather, first perform a spot-test on a small portion before using it on the entire area.

Step 2: Clean the dashboard. In a spray bottle, combine one part lemon juice to two parts olive oil and shake to combine.

Using a piece of newspaper or a microfiber cloth, spread a small amount over your dashboard, in a thin, even layer. Wipe away any excess with another clean cloth or newspaper.

  • Note: Do not use this solution on the steering wheel, emergency brake lever, or brake pedals, as the oil in the mixture can make these parts slippery, which can be dangerous while driving. The oil also makes it difficult to remove from glass, so avoid getting any solution on the windshield, mirrors, or windows.

Using white vinegar with a few other select ingredients can save you money in the long run without sacrificing the efficacy of traditional car cleaners, and its versatility is limited only by your imagination.

White vinegar is a favorite ingredient in most cleaning supplies that eschew traditional chemicals in lieu of nontoxic alternatives, and for good reason. Vinegar is safe to use, non-toxic, easily obtained, and above all, it is cheap and effective.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Make Your Own Car Cleaning Solutions and was authored by Michelle Ballestrasse.


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