How To: 9 DIY Tricks for Cleaning Your Car

9 DIY Tricks for Cleaning Your Car

Ever see those cars so covered in dirt, dust, and grime that someone writes "Wash me" on it using their finger? Well, for those cars' sakes, as well as cases less extreme, a word of advice: procrastination is not a solution — it can only compound the problem. Self-cleaning cars are the stuff of the future, not the present, and your car needs attention now.

Also, if you're waiting for the weather to help out, note that a rainstorm can only do so much and won't rid your vehicle of certain messes, like smooshed bugs or bird droppings. Maintenance of a car goes beyond the engine, brakes, and tires, and keeping it clean inside and out is more than for aesthetics.

Why Car Cleanliness Is Important

Cleaning the interior and exterior of your car does not have to be an expensive enterprise. In fact, with regular maintenance, you can actually save money in the long run as you'll discover and address problems early on, hopefully before they become too big to handle yourself.

Jump to the bottom of this article for the full illustration.

While you may think chipped paint, a tiny crack in your window, or the unsightly bird dropping isn't a big deal, hold that thought, because these small problems have the potential to be big ones — and their ally is time.

Indeed, the longer they go untreated, the greater their odds are of causing you headaches in the future. The solution? For many, it's closer than you realize. All that's needed are a few common household items, which can be obtained from a drug or hardware store, or even right from your own kitchen and bathroom.

Preventing Paint Damage

Cars as you well know seem to be universal magnets for birds and what they leave behind, which have the very real potential to turn into more than just an eyesore. Experts say that the uric acid found in droppings can make its way through a layer of wax or a car's clear, protective sealant in as little as 48 hours. Especially when combined with heat, the droppings don't need long to begin to etch a car's finish. The higher the temperature, the faster the process. And it's not just acid, but possibly tiny bits of gravel as many birds swallow grit and small rocks to help with the digestive process.

Bugs? They're also sources of acid if you can believe it, and keeping the smooshed ones dotting your bumper can also lead to etching. Paint isn't just for looks; it protects the metal of your car. Once exposed, metal can quickly rust, and with rust comes more problems.

How to Fix It: WD-40 spray for the roof/hood of your car and Coca-Cola for your windshield. While Coke can also work on the body of a car, it's slight acidity runs the risk of damaging the paint. In fact, it's this acidity that makes Coke a DIY choice for cleaning car battery terminals. As for WD-40, the product is indeed multipurpose as its end users/fans attest to. One of its more surprising uses is how it can clean bird waste from a car or as WD-40 explains it: how it can defeat nature.

Stopping Rust or Cracks

As said, a car's paint protects the metal beneath it. Rust, or iron oxide, results when iron, oxygen, and water/moisture combine. A car's metal, exposed to moisture in the air, can start down the road to rusting and again time plays a big role. Rust does spread. A chip or ding that goes ignored is a prime candidate for a future rust spot. To stop this corrosive process from getting out of hand, try and nip it in the bud. When you see it, address it.

As for a window or windshield, if water gets into the space, it could do permanent damage:

If the chip goes all the way through the top lamination, any moisture that gets that deep can delaminate the glass from the center membrane. Eventually, the membrane will fog, causing a larger blemish. Water can also freeze in the chip, causing a larger flaw or even a crack. Also, water can carry dirt into the crack — and there's no way to flush it out.

How to Fix It: Clear nail polish, which is also a good DIY solution for a tiny crack in the car window or windshield. The nail polish will work like a sealer and help prevent the crack/ding from spreading, the result of changes in temperature.

Getting Rid of Odors

What's that smell? And why isn't it going away? Bad smells in a car can truly be nauseating, especially if you're trapped with them in a traffic jam for hours. Rolling down your windows is an option, of course, but what if it's raining or too cold outside? What's more, this is only a temporary solution and you're looking to rid your car's upholstery and/or carpets of the offensive odors for good. The same can be said for a car deodorizer, which will simply mask (or mix with) the bad smell for a short time, even one that claims to capture "new car smell."

How to Fix It: A bag of charcoal. This is the same science behind carbon air filters, which uses activated charcoal to grab and trap impurities. The odor's chemicals attach themselves to the "bonding sites" of the charcoal, pulling them out of the air; and once filled, the filter (or bag of charcoal) simply needs to be replaced to absorb more.

The DIY Tricks You Need to Know

Coke, clear nail polish, charcoal, club soda: all of these items are easily obtainable and more than likely already in your home, waiting to be put to DIY use.

Our cars are a big investment, and why wouldn't we want to do what we can to keep up its ROI? Keeping it clean and maintained goes a long way toward that end. As said, cleaning your car doesn't have to be expensive, and by addressing tiny problems in the here and now (including that huge avian deposit), is a prudent way to stave off big issues down the road. Your car, your wallet, and your passengers will thank you!

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1 Comment

I wouldn't advise using dish detergent for cleaning the exterior.While the detergent itself is not harmful to the clearcoat,it will ,over time remove any wax and an unprotected finish will degrade faster

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