Spring cleaning your car

Spring cleaning...but for your car

So, you’re ready for that spring road trip, and you roll up the garage door, only to find that winter has left your ride looking pretty shabby. Mud and salt-grime coat nearly every exterior surface, and piles of grit have settled into the floor mats

Take heart, though: with a simple arsenal of cleaning supplies and an hour or so of effort, you can be ready to roll again. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • A good first stop would be your local auto-parts store. In addition to batteries, tires, tools, and other auto repair supplies, they’ll have an extensive selection of car-care merchandise to help you restore your car to its former glory.
  • At the top of your list should be a pack of microfiber cloths. They’re not that much more expensive, ultimately, than paper towels, they're reusable, and do a much better job of cleaning the many surfaces — glass, chrome, bare and painted metal, plastic, wood veneers, etc. —that you’ll find in your auto.
  • Pick a good soap meant specifically for cars. These products are better than dish soap or laundry detergent, which can dull your car’s finish. And while you’re at it, get a selection of good sponges.
  • Wash from top to bottom and rinse frequently. Otherwise, you’re just spreading the schmutz around. Make sure you scrub around the headlights, taillights, and grille, and once you’ve cleaned the topside, you should clean the wheel wells and undercarriage, too, using a hose with a good spray nozzle. Do not use a pressure washer, which can be too rough on some of the car’s seals and fittings.
  • Don’t forget the tires! A good tire dressing can make the rubber look factory-new, and it can help your tires last longer, too.
  • Once you’ve got the exterior sparkling again, you can move on to the interior, and if you don’t already have a shop vac, now might be a good time to invest in one. They’re cheap, portable, and most come equipped with multiple tools to help you vacuum out all the car’s nooks and crannies.
  • Remove the floor mats, vacuum them and wash them with detergent and a scrub brush. If they're carpet, make sure to let them dry thoroughly. While the floor mats are drying, use your shop-vac to suck out all the loose dirt that has inevitably worked its way into all the car’s tight spots. The crevice tool is your friend.
  • Work your way up — seats, arm rests, dashboard. Cup holders merit special attention, since they tend to allow sticky substances to pool and accumulate (pro-tip: they can often be removed for easier access).


The information included here was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions, or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice or other advice, but should be confirmed with alternative sources.