It creeps up on the most tidy of people until it’s nearly too much to deal with, so you wait longer to do something about it, as if it will go away on its own: it’s the mess in and on your car.
Some people like to clean their car out weekly, monthly, seasonally, annually, or sometimes even longer. Whether you wash your car once a week or once a year, there’s a better way to keep your car clean.
Imagine you could use little shortcuts to make your car cleaning job easier - that is, whenever you get around to actually cleaning it. The following life hacks can provide those shortcuts so you can spend your time on the things that are really important in life (Netflix and chill, anyone?).
Check out these top ten hacks for cleaning and organizing your car.
1. Clean your windshield with club soda
It’s quite impressive what club soda can do aside from sprucing up your beverages. Its many uses include adding loft to pancakes, removing stains on clothing - and now, effectively cleaning your windshield.
Either spray club soda onto your windshield with a spray bottle, or pour it directly onto the exterior glass to break up stuck-on bugs and grime. Let it sit for 15-30 seconds, then wipe it off with a microfiber cloth or paper towels. The residue will come right off. For stubborn matter stuck to the windshield, use a dish net scrubber to safely scrub bugs and grime off the glass after letting it soak in club soda.
2. Use a plastic cereal container for a garbage can
Reusable plastic cereal containers are perfect to use as a garbage receptacle inside your car. They have an easy-to-use flip top to put garbage inside, and are compact enough that they don’t interfere with your personal space.
Put a plastic grocery bag inside the cereal container, folding the edges over the sides. Snap the lid over top and put it beside the console on the passenger side floor. Anytime you need to discard a receipt, apple core, or coffee cup, simply flip the lid open and toss the garbage inside. It’s a no-muss, no-fuss solution to keeping your car’s interior garbage-free.
3. Clean your dash vents with a small foam brush
Those tiny louvers in your dash vents collect dust and tell everyone who enters your car exactly how well you take care of your car. Use a small foam brush to wipe away the tell-tale dust that has accumulated.
Foam paint brushes are perfect to get in those tight spaces, picking up dust without scratching delicate parts. If you don’t have a foam paint brush, soft-bristle artist brushes will also work, though they won’t trap the dust as well as the foam brush. Just be sure to use a clean, new brush.
4. Remove odors in the carpet with baking soda
You’re bound to have a spill inside your vehicle at some time, especially if there are ever children riding in your car. Anything that has a biological component - orange juice and milk, for example - will start to smell eventually, some sooner rather than later. Smells like spoiled milk can make you want to light your car on fire instead of ever setting foot inside again, and are notoriously difficult to remove.
Grab the baking soda from your pantry and head to the garage. Heavily cover the affected area with baking soda and lightly agitate it into the carpet or seat fibers with a stiff-bristled scrub brush. Let it sit overnight, then vacuum the affected area the next day. The smell will be gone or at least greatly reduced. You can re-treat the area again to remove the smell completely.
This method also works for the musty smell you can get inside your car from standing water from your shoes.
5. Clean your chrome with cola
You’ve heard about the effects cola has on your body, and you’ve seen the demonstrations of its ability to corrode nails and other objects in science class. Put that action to use by cleaning your car’s chrome parts with cola.
Pour a liberal amount of cola on a clean, soft cloth and wipe it onto your car’s chrome pieces, like the wheels, the grille, running boards, and emblems. Let the cola sit on the chrome for 5-10 minutes, then rinse well with clean water. The cola will remove all the corrosion and discoloration on your chrome, leaving it sparkly clean and shiny. You’ll want to properly wash your car soon after, however, or the sticky sugars in the cola will attract a mess.
6. Organize your interior with a remote control organizer
You’ve used one hanging on the arm of your couch for years to keep track of all your TV and accessory remotes. Use one just like it inside your car, hanging it on the back of one of the seats or on the side of your console to keep all your items within reach. Whether you need a tissue, your phone charger cable, or the chocolate bar you grabbed at the gas station, it’s all easily available at your fingertips, and kept out of the way.
7. Clean crevices with a screwdriver
There’s tons of little cracks and crevices all over the place in your vehicle, from that gap between switches to the cracks in your console. Ideally, you’d use compressed air to blow out all the gunk that builds up, but that’s not always an option. Instead, use a flat screwdriver with a cloth over the tip to get into those tight spaces.
If there’s more than just dust in the gaps, you can wet the cloth with your favorite cleaner before wiping out the crevices. Also, if you don’t have a screwdriver handy, the corner of a credit card can do the trick.
8. Use a backseat hammock for pets
Part of making cleanup easier is preventing the mess in the first place. Your fur babies love to go for car rides as well, and cleanup afterwards is simple with a pet hammock for the backseat. It keeps your pets contained in the rear seat and collects dirt, hair, and paw prints so it doesn’t get embedded into your upholstery.
9. Line your cup holders for easy cleanup
Inevitably, you’re going to spill your coffee or soda in your cupholder, and cleaning out that confined space is never an easy task. Minimize the difficulty by lining your cup holders with silicone cupcake liners. Available at virtually every store that carries baking materials, silicone cupcake liners are flexible to fit inside the cup holder and will catch anything that might spill.
When it’s time to clean out your car, toss the silicone cupcake liners in the dishwasher and reuse them. It’ll save you the time and swear jar money required to clean cup holders otherwise.
10. Wax your paint
It’s true, waxing your car will save you time cleaning it later on. The minor investment of car wax and applicators and a couple hours of your time will make subsequent washes that much faster.
A waxed car finish means dirt won’t stick to your exterior as much, keeping your car looking cleaner for longer. When it does get dirty enough to wash, the dirt comes off the waxed finish much easier than normal.
Even if you just use one or two of these car hacks, you’ll end up saving yourself plenty of time and, potentially, a bit of money. Your car will stay cleaner for longer, and you’ll take greater pride in your car.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Top 10 Hacks for Cleaning and Organizing Your Car and was authored by Jason Unrau.