Now that winter is (hopefully) almost over, your car may look a little worse from wear and tear. If yours is like mine, there are salt stains on the hood and doors, the windows are dirty, the interior is covered in salt and sand from winter boots, and there may not be bad garbage and mess strewn over there.
I haven’t cleaned my car all winter because it’s too cold here in the Midwest. But now? The sun has risen and the air is warm enough to create a vacuum without the risk of hypothermia.
If you’re ready to deep clean your car, you don’t need to buy a bunch of expensive “car cleaners” to do it. In fact, most commercial car cleaners (and most common cleaners) contain many dangerous chemicals that you don’t need to inhale. Using natural cleansers is not only safer, but also healthier. I will be using eco-friendly cleaners to clean my car this spring.
So how do you clean your car naturally? Here are 7 tips you can start using right away.
1. Use a bucket
When washing the exterior of your car, don’t let the hose run the entire time you are scrubbing. Use a bucket and sponge and turn off the faucet while cleaning. This simple change in habit can help you conserve a lot of water.
2. Use vegetable soap
It is also important to use natural herbal soap when washing your car. The reason is that whatever you shoot will eventually end up in the local watershed. If your soap scum is plant-based (rather than petroleum like most commercial soaps including Dawn), you don’t have to worry about affecting the local environment.
3. Use toothpaste to clean the inside
If you have leather or vinyl seats, you can use toothpaste to remove light stains. Make sure to do a small test area first just to make sure the toothpaste doesn’t affect the dyes used in the material.
4. Use alcohol
If the stain on your leather or vinyl seats doesn’t go away with the toothpaste, rub it lightly with rubbing alcohol. Again, test first to make sure it doesn’t affect the color. Use a cotton swab and gently dab rubbing alcohol on the stain.
Keep in mind that the more alcohol you consume, the more likely your seat tint will fade. So test the area first, then try to use as little alcohol as possible to get the job done.
If you don’t have specific stains on your leather or vinyl, you can mix one part vinegar with one part linseed oil and clean the inside with this solution. It’s a great mix for removing dirt and grime, and leaves the leather with a nice shine.
5. Clean your windows in an ecological way
Don’t bother with Windex! Instead, use this inexpensive and environmentally friendly cleaner. Mix it all up:
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of vinegar
- 1/4 cup alcohol
in a spray bottle and shake gently. This is an amazing glass cleaner that really does a good job of removing dirty winter grime. It is also important, when cleaning your car in an environmentally friendly way, to use reusable cloth wipes instead of paper towels. I use microfiber towels when making my own windows and they work great.
6. Cool off with baking soda
Baking soda is a miracle product. I use these things for dozens of different uses around the house. It’s an amazing deodorant, so if you find your car smells a bit musty, sprinkle the baking soda on the fabric seats and / or fabric floors. Leave it there for a few hours or overnight, then vacuum. You can also add a little scent by sprinkling dried herbs (like lavender or dried roses) with baking soda.
7. Naturally clean fabric stains
If the interior of your car is fabric, there are many natural ways to remove stains.
First, mix equal parts vinegar and water and spray the stain. Let it soak for a few minutes and then dry it with a damp cloth.
You can also use natural detergent if you have it on hand. Again, mix equal parts detergent and water and let soak lightly. Dry with a damp cloth.
If you have grease stains on your car floor mats, sprinkle the stains with cornstarch. Let sit for 15 to 30 minutes, then vacuum.
With all of the natural cleaning ingredients at our disposal, there’s no need to go out and buy a basket full of speciality car cleaning supplies. As I mentioned earlier, most of them contain dangerous chemicals that are best avoided. Using natural ingredients like baking soda and vinegar is not only environmentally friendly, it will also save you money.
Have you washed your car recently? What types of cleaners do you usually use?