From colorful scenery to chai lattes, there are hayloads of things to love about fall. It’s also a great time to deep clean your vehicle, since summer road trip season is over, but frigid winter temps have not yet set in. Sound like good clean fun? Then here are a few tips for getting your car spick and span.
Make your interior shine
When it comes to tidying up your car’s interior, start at the top and work your way down. That means cleaning your interior glass, doors, dash and vents first, then finishing with the floor. This is so you can clean up any muck that falls to the ground in one fell swoop.
For interior glass, start by wiping the entire surface down with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. Second, degrease the glass with either a moistened Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or rubbing alcohol. Finally, finish by wiping down the glass in a circular motion with your favorite auto glass cleaner and another microfiber towel.
A cheap artist’s paintbrush is a creative way to get into hard-to-reach areas, like vents and other nooks and crannies. A can of compressed air will also do the trick.
Outdoor debris like mud and leaves is prevalent this time of year, and easy to track onto your vehicle’s floor and upholstery. For upholstery, stick to a professional grade cleaner and use a soft, yet sturdy, brush. To clean leather, you can create a special DIY cleaning solution by mixing 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup of vinegar to wipe seats clean.
Scrub carpets with a stiff brush to loosen all that fall-time grime, then vacuum. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also bust out the carpet shampooer. Switching out your car mats is another easy and affordable way to make your interior look like new (you may also want to consider installing easy-to-clean vinyl mats to prep for messy autumn and winter weather).
Score a superior exterior
First, beyond scoring that new car shine, a good exterior carwash also removes ragwood pollen, a prominent allergen during the fall. So your car—and your sinuses—will thank you! If you opt to clean the exterior of your vehicle on your own rather than at a car wash, here are a few things to consider.
Like the interior, there is an order to things here as well. It’s best to start by tidying up your wheels and tires. We recommend a water-based tire cleaner, which is less corrosive than more chemical-packed cleaners. Scrub the rubber with a tire brush till it’s clean as a whistle, then use a microfiber cloth to wipe your wheels to a shine.
When washing the body of your vehicle, start at the top and work your way down. Be sure to use a specialized car soap rather than dish detergent, which can be tough on your paint and strip away the wax. Start by thoroughly rinsing debris like dirt and leaves away with water. For tough-to-remove tree sap stains, start by using soap and water. If they still won’t budge, try treating them with mineral spirits, WD-40, or hand sanitizer.
Once all the spots are removed, give your entire ride a ride a soapy rub-down. A natural sea sponge or specialized washing mitt are two effective tools for gentle cleaning. Rise your sponge regularly throughout the process with clean water. It helps to keep one bucket with clean water for rinsing, and another with your soapy water. After soaping, give your vehicle a meticulous rinse from the top down.
To avoid water spots, dry your vehicle ASAP with a specialized squeegee or microfiber towel (or a combo of both, starting with the squeegee). Start with drying the windows, since they’re most prone to water splotches.
After your wash, consider waxing your car to give it a gorgeous shine and protect it from the seasonal elements. Make sure your whip is completely dry, then apply the wax in a circular motion all over using light pressure. Remove excess wax with one side of a clean microfiber cloth, then use the other side to buff the surface to an immaculate shine.
A final note on your windshield and wipers...
Since you can’t keep your windshield crystal clear without quality wiper blades, fall is a great time to make sure your wipers are in tiptop shape. If your blades show signs of wear, aren’t functioning correctly, or haven’t been replaced in at least 6 months (or 6,000 miles), swap them out for a shiny new all-season set.
True to its name, fall also means lots of falling debris, so you may want to keep a can of glass cleaner and a lint-free cloth in your car for easy windshield cleanup.
Now you’ve got the skinny on getting your car spiffy for fall! Keep it clean, stay safe, and enjoy the season.