14 Surprising Household Items You Can Use to Clean Your Car Like a Pro

I love a clean car. But sadly, a clean car does not love me. My miniature passengers may have a little something to do with that. Okay, okay, I might too.

Before going on our summer road trip a few summers ago we got a professional detailing done on our minivan so that we could at least start off on the right foot. But, I’m cheap. So realistically, I will drive around in a disgusting car for months before shelling out $100 for someone to clean it for me.

So if you’re like me and you’d rather DIY your car detail, I compiled this list of 14 surprising household items that will make your car look like you just pulled off the lot.

soapy Sponge cleaning car

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1. Vaseline

Car cleaning products like Armour All are great, but they can get pricey. Instead, wipe your vinyl dash down with a mild cleaning solution and then wipe a small amount of Vaseline across the surface. Remove any excess with a clean rag. The Vaseline will condition your dash and leave the surface all pretty and shiny.

2. Screw Driver

Look at your gear shift. See all those annoying little bits and pieces in there? Darn those annoying little crumbs and those tiny little spaces. To get at them tuck a screwdriver into a damp microfiber cloth to remove them for good.

Related: 10 Tips for Lazy People Who Still Like a Clean Car

3. Coffee Filters

This one is dual purpose. Swipe a coffee filter (just like these) across your dash to pick up dust and then grab another one to scrub all those dead bugs off your front bumper. You can also use dryer sheets for a similar effect.

4. Foam Craft Brushes

Where are all my crafty moms? More than likely you have a few of these foam brushes stashed away in a craft drawer somewhere. They are perfect for getting at that impossible to reach dust hanging out in your air vents.

5. Toothbrush

This is another multi-purpose tool you can use to scrub dust and dirt out of crevices. It can also be used to clean the creases in your car’s upholstery.

Here’s a cheap 6 pack to get you started.

Use toothbrushes to clean your car

6. Rubbing Alcohol

Are your wipers doing a mediocre job? It may not be time to toss them just yet. Try putting some rubbing alcohol on a microfiber cloth and running it along the length of your wipers. I’m running outside to try this one right now!

7. Vinegar, club soda, and blue dawn dish soap

Anyone else appreciate a chemical free cleaning solution? Mix up these ingredients and use it along with the toothbrush we mentioned earlier to remove any stubborn stains on your seats or flooring. If that still doesn’t work, I know some people who swear by Tuff Stuff foam cleaner. You can find it here.

8. Baking soda and toothpaste

Headlights looking a little cloudy? No need to purchase an expensive cleaner. Apply some baking soda and toothpaste to a damp microfiber cloth and rub onto headlights. You’ll want to buff it off with another clean damp microfiber cloth. Just be sure to turn the cloth with every swipe so you’re not reapplying the paste as you wipe.

9. Paint brush and furniture polish

Apply a quick spray of furniture polish to a clean paint brush and use it to wipe away dust from radio and temperature controls.

10. Paper towel roll

I love this one! When you vacuum out your car, there are inevitably going to be a few of those awkward compartments that no vacuum attachment will get to. Use duct tape to attach a paper towel roll to the end of your vacuum hose. Then bend it to fit those door pockets. Good-bye 4 year-old french fry!

Related: 17 Places You Forgot to Clean that Might be Grossing Out Your Guests

11. Rubber gloves

We don’t have pets, but we did accidentally buy a couch on Craigslist once that was covered in cat hair. 

Gross, I know. 

But after coming to terms with our poor life choices we used a rubber cleaning glove and wiped our hands across the fabric. The animal hair magically rolls it all up into an easy to remove clump. Go ahead pet owners, give this one a try.

12. Your Dishwasher

I’m so excited to try this one! After giving your rubber mats a good smack against the side of your house or a tree, lay the mats on the top rack of your dishwasher with the side you want cleaned facing the water source. It will act like a pressure washer, and the best part is you can make this your first step and they will be done by the time you finish the rest of the car.

13. Slime

Who knew that blob of goo your kids make at preschool was so versatile? Let the slime settle into those crumb-filled cracks and crevices to pick up every last bit of dust. You can purchase pre-made cleaning slime here, or make your own with this quick recipe:

Thoroughly mix 2 tbsp of white Elmer’s glue and 1 tbsp water in a dish.

Then mix 4 tbsp borax and 4 tbsp water until dissolved

Combine the two and knead until the grittiness has gone away.

14. Baby Wipes

Not only are these good to have in the car for messy hands or a quick clean up, but they are also great for cleaning your windshield and windows. And while wipers may do the trick on the outside, baby wipes can be great for the interior when that faint haze starts to build up.

I’ve started to order multipacks because Lord knows we make some messes in our family. 

Baby wipes in car for cleaning up spills

Ok, who’s ready to drive a clean car?? If you try any of these tricks let me know how it went! And if you have any additional car cleaning hacks let us know in the comments.

Related Posts

Need more cleaning tips? Check out these 17 Places You Forgot to Clean that Might Be Grossing Out Your Guestsor these 10 Tips for Lazy People Who Still Like a Clean Car. Want to get organized? Start in your kitchen with a 15 Minute Pantry Cleanout.

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Cleaning car seat with a toothbrush
hand cleaning car with a sponge

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Hi! My name is Kim. I’m the mom of 3 boys, the wife to 1 husband, and the driver of a 2013 Toyota Sienna. I love Jesus and my family, I have an obsession with getting a good deal, and if I had it my way I’d spend every weekend at Disney World trying a new food shaped like a Disney character.

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