Clean Your Car With Home Ingredients

It can be time consuming running back and forth to the store for expensive cleaning products that you can only use on your car. But keeping your car clean has many benefits and will not only preserve it better from the elements, but it can also have a healthy affect on your mood and self perception.[1] You can avoid expensive cleaning products and enjoy a well maintained car by making use of ingredients you find around the house.


Cleaning the Car Exterior

  1. Rinse your car with a hose or bucket. Try to break loose any buildup and be sure to scrub the entire surface, as removing excess dirtiness will make your job easier overall. Dirt on washing implements can scratch your paint job.[2]
  2. Clean salt and grime off your car with baking soda. Add one cup of baking soda to a gallon of soapy hot water to make a powerful cutting agent, especially for your car's winter buildup.
  3. Remove tree sap with Denatured alcohol, Denatured alcohol also dissipates tar and sap well or you can use peanut butter. Dab peanut butter or solid shortening onto the effected area of your car and allow it to sit for about a minute. After that, try wiping off with a cloth. This may take a few attempts before you completely remove the sap.
    • Denatured alcohol also dissipates tar and sap well.[3]
  4. Wash your car with hair shampoo. Shampoo is a great household cleanser you can use to cut grease and grime on the body of your car. Baby shampoo is ideal, as its gentle ingredients won't harm your car's paint.[4]
  5. Mix 2 teaspoons into a {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} bucket of water. Make sure that you scrub with a soft cloth so you don't scratch your car's paint. Be sure not to use too much shampoo, as undiluted cleaners can also damage your car's paint.
  6. Use a clean dust-mop to reach difficult places. If you have difficulty reaching the roof, hood, or other places, this is a great scrubber that can help you out.
  7. Clean road grime off windshield wipers with rubbing alcohol.
  8. Get wet your rag with rubbing alcohol, take the wiper blade in hand, and firmly pull the rag along the rubber edge of the wiper blade.

Cleaning Hard Surfaces and the Center Console

  1. Wipe all surfaces clean with a damp rag. This will remove excess grunge from the surfaces of your car and prevent you spreading dirtiness to your seats or floor.
  2. Use toothpaste on stains. Stains on your leather or vinyl seats can be removed by gently scrubbing the affected area with toothpaste.
    • Always test your cleaner on a small area. There is a chance that the dye can be affected by the cleaning agent.
  3. Swap in rubbing alcohol if toothpaste fails. Lightly dab your stain after you've tested the alcohol on the surface you will be cleaning.
    • The more alcohol you use, the harsher the solution will be, and the more likely it will bleach whatever color your car might be dyed.
  4. Make a cleaner for the interior of your car with equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Spray this mixture on hard surfaces and then wipe them with used fabric softener sheets so you don't leave lint behind.
  5. Try a solution of one part vinegar with one part linseed oil. This is another great combination for beating interior dirt and grime. The shine it leaves behind on your leather seats is an added bonus.[5]
  6. Sprinkle some baking soda in your car's ashtray. This will absorb the smells and odors and keep your car fresh. If you do not smoke, you can leave some baking soda in your ashtray as an air purifier.
  7. Baby wipe the glove compartment of your car. Clear out any garbage or dust that might have accumulated there. Often, forgotten items, like snacks, spoil in glove compartments and make your car seem less clean than it actually is.
  8. Apply homemade protectant to vinyl and hard surfaces. Mix one part fresh lemon juice with two parts olive oil in a small bowl of your choosing. Do not apply this solution to pedals, levers, or anything you need to drive. This protectant leaves behind a smooth seal that you don't want to slip on while operating your vehicle.[3]
  9. Dab a small amount on your cloth. Rub this solution over the dashboard, plastic surfaces, and vinyl surfaces. It will give the hard surfaces of your car a beautiful shine.

Cleaning Fabric

  1. Vacuum thoroughly and pick off all dirt and garbage possible. Failing to do this can make your job more difficult by rubbing in or spreading a fabric stain.[6]
  2. Remove grease stains with cornstarch. Sprinkle these kind of stains with cornstarch and set your timer for 30 minutes. When your time expires, vacuum the cornstarch and check the condition of the stain.[5]
    • Some experts recommend using a little water with the cornstarch to make a paste. Allow the paste to dry, then brush away the powder and grease.[7]
  3. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Apply your mixture to stains and allow for a short soak before blotting.
  4. Blot your stain with a wet cloth to remove it. If this doesn't work, you can scrub lightly or try a heavy duty cleaner. Certain stains are cleaned more effectively with specific cleaners. A quick Internet search can reveal exactly what you need to treat your stain.
  5. Blast grass stains with hydrogen peroxide. Allow your grass stain to soak in a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide, and then wash normally.[7]
    • If you can't find hydrogen peroxide, pre-treat your stain with equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and warm water.[8] Rub the mixture directly on the stain and then wash as normal.
  6. Soften scorch marks with a raw onion. This works great for burn marks left by cigarettes. Hold a cut onion to the burn, and after you notice that the juice of the onion has been absorbed into the fabric, soak the stain in water to lessen the unsightliness of the damage.[7]
  7. Make a general, heavy duty cleaner. In a heavy duty spray bottle, mix one cup of Dawn dish soap (blue), one cup of white vinegar, and one cup of club soda. Spray this solution liberally and scrub with brush to lift and remove stains.

Improving Car Air Quality

  1. Make a mold and germ killing spray. This will improve the air quality traveling through the vent system of your car. You should always apply new air freshener lightly to prevent it from being overpowering.
  2. Refresh your car's air intake. You can do this by applying a purifying spray made from water and hydrogen peroxide to your car's air intake. You can identify the intake by checking your car manual.
  3. Mix one cup of water and one tablespoon of the hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. You should shake the solution gently but thoroughly to mix.
  4. Open doors and windows while running your car fans at full blast. Spray your water/peroxide solution into your car's fresh-air intake. This spray will kill germs and mold living in your car, but it is a gentler cleaning agent than most and will not irritate your lungs or eyes.[9]
  5. Make an air freshener for your car. Fill a small jar with a 1/4 cup of baking soda and punch a few holes into the lid or stretch some cheesecloth across the mouth of the jar. You can put this in a cup holder or out of sight in a pocket.[10]
    • Add a few drops of essential oils to create a pleasant fragrance to accompany the refreshing effects of your baking soda.
  6. Hide dryer sheets under seats, floor mats, and in pockets. These will help your car fight persistent odors. If you participate in sports or a physical activity, tuck a dryer sheet in your trunk or in an interior pocket to fight strong, sports related odors.

Cleaning Car Windows

  1. Save it for last. You might want to take care of windows first, but many people prefer to save this for last to prevent any splatter or mist from clouding a clean window when working on other parts of the car.
  2. Forgo paper towels. Newspaper and microfiber towels are highly absorbent and you don't have to worry about leaving lint or streaks behind. This is also a cheaper alternative, as cloth can be reused and newspaper is typically less expensive than paper products.
  3. Wipe windows clean from top to bottom. This will prevent you from having to clean up drip marks or trails.[11] Using a different wiping direction between interior and exterior can help reveal any spots you've missed.[12]
  4. Make your own window cleaner. Not only is this option usually more affordable, you can also take pride in the fact that this homemade cleaner is environmentally safe.
  5. Collect one cup of water, half a cup of vinegar, and a quarter of cup alcohol for your homemade window cleaner. You can mix these together in a spray bottle by gently shaking the solution. After mixing, the solution is ready to be used.
    • You can use vinegar and water to good effect, too, if you lack alcohol.[13]
  6. Spray your cleaner onto your windows. Be sure you remember to wipe from top to bottom with suitable rag, cloth, or paper product. For especially dirty windows, you should have two rags, one for wiping away grime, and the other for finishing and drying excess.[12]
  7. Remove stubborn bug splatter with undiluted vinegar. Spray your car window or windshield with vinegar and simply wipe it clean. If your bug stain is especially bad, allow the vinegar to soak into the stain before wiping it away.[14]
    • Seltzer water has also been reported to, after allowing to soak for few minutes, loosen insects stuck to your car.[15]
  8. Use a Steel Wool (0000) to remove stubborn watermarks.
  9. Gently rub the windshield with the steel wool in a circular movement.
  10. Wash and allow to dry.


  • Clean the windshield and windows, as well as any other glass surfaces, last.


  • Do not use too much rubbing alcohol when making a mixture for the interior, or water. Proper balance is important when mixing cleaners; you should follow proportion directions carefully.
  • Be aware of environmental protection laws. If it is illegal to wash your car where you live due to water conservation or environmental concerns, be sure to only wash your car at a suitable, designated location.
  • Never use a room spray in your car, as it can leave visible spots or shapes on your car's seat covers.

Things You'll Need

  • Baby wipes
  • Baking soda
  • Bucket
  • Brush
  • Dryer sheets
  • Dust mop
  • Fabric softener sheets
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Hair shampoo
  • Jar (for air freshener)
  • Linseed oil
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soft rags/towels/newspaper
  • Spray bottle(s)
  • Vinegar
  • Water

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Sources and Citations