7 Expert Car Cleaning Tips!


I live in the suburbs just outside of Toronto, and for those of you who don’t know, Toronto has traffic that rivals that of New York and Los Angeles. Needless to say, it’s pretty tough to get anywhere in this city, which means you’re endlessly in your car. In turn, your car becomes an extension of your home—if it’s messy, you feel stressed out. I do enjoy the occasional snack and/or drink in the car, and it can get a little messy over time if you’re not careful. Here are some car cleaning tips that you can use to keep your vehicle looking great—no matter what time of year it is.

Lint Roller

Whether you bring pets in the car and get pet hair everywhere, or you have kids (or frankly, adults) who spill crumbs when they eat snacks in the car, having a quality lint roller handy is a life saver. These handy little tools can easily zip up little messes, spills, or pet-hair patches, quickly and efficiently. I’ve kept one in my car for years, and honestly, I use it several times a week.

makeups brushes

Little Tools

When it comes to car cleaning, the devil is in the details. Cars are just full of little nooks, crannies, and seams. These areas love dirt, food, dead skin cells, and hair. How do you get them clean? You get yourself some detailing tools. These are inexpensive and are generally things you already have around the house. You can use an old toothbrush, a paintbrush, or an old makeup brush. You can even use a cotton swab or a pipe cleaner if it fits the job. Any of these little things will help you get into those cracks, crevices, and crannies.

DIY Dashboard & Console Cleaner

For cleaning your console and your dashboard, you can certainly buy some fancy products to do that—sprays, wipes, that kind of thing. You can also make your own DIY cleaner! It’s a super simple solution:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of dish soap
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar

Put that in a spray bottle, and give it a shake. You can use this to clean pretty much any surface on the interior of your car. But, there is a caveat! I want you to always test it in a hidden area first, and check with your car manufacturer to see what is safe or not safe to use on the interior of your car. I would also avoid using it on leather—this is one material that deserves a specialty product.

windshield wipers

Windshield Wipers

Have you ever been driving and noticed that you turn on your wipers and you get these weird streaky spots on your glass? There’s a simple reason and a simple fix for this. Though the regular use of your car out in the elements, your windshield wiper blades start to build up dirt and gunk on them. Then, when they wipe back and forth on the glass, they spread that gunk around, and don’t do as good of a job at removing precipitation. All you have to do is clean the blades regularly. To do this, just take a paper towel and saturate it with a bit of rubbing alcohol. Then, hold the wiper up and give it a few long strokes the length of the blade. When you’re done, you’ll see all of that nasty grime come off on the paper towel.

Cabin Air Filters

If you ever noticed that your car smells a little bit funky, or musty, or you’re not getting the kind of airflow that you really want, it probably means that it’s time for you to change your cabin air filter. Now, I know: out of sight, out of mind, but these things do need to be changed periodically. It’s similar to changing out your furnace filters. All cars have at least one of these, but they’re in different places depending on the vehicle (check your owner’s manual). It’s usually right under the glovebox and it will require a screwdriver and a new filter, but it’s (generally) a lot easier than it sounds. If this intimidates you, you can actually get it changed the next time you go for an oil change; it’s a service that most service centers and dealerships offer.

clean car tires

DIY Tire Scrub

Your tire rims (or hubcaps) are to your car, what your sink is to your kitchen. If they look clean, everything else kind of looks clean too. So, when you’re cleaning your car, make sure that you give your rims or hubcaps some extra attention. To do this, just make up a simple tire scrub solution

  • 1 quart of water
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of dish soap

Mix all of these ingredients together, then use a sponge or a soft brush to start scrubbing your rims. When that’s done, give it a quick rinse and then buff it dry it with a microfiber cloth. They’re going to sparkle like a diamond!

Clean on the Regular

Perhaps some of the best advice I can give you is to just keep your car clean on a regular basis. To do this, I recommend keeping a microfiber cloth and a lint roller in your glove box. When I have a few minutes to myself, let’s say, I’m waiting for something, I’m a little bit early, or Chad’s gone in to a store and I’m still sitting in the car—I’ll just grab the cloth, take a minute or so and give the dash, the console, the screen, everything like that a quick wipe down and lint roll the seats and the mats at my feet. It might sound a little fancy, but I promise you, it gets rid of dust and schmutz and other debris and keeps bigger cleans to a minimum.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. Dear Melissa,
    I’ve been using your cleaning tips and recipes for years. Not only did your recommended interior car cleaner work like a charm today on the dash and console, it did a fabulous job on the cloth seats as well! Thanks!
    (Mom of 3 Active Boys, 9, 11, 12)

  2. Do you have any tips for getting dog hair off of cloth seats? I’ve tried vacuuming, using a lint roller, using tape, and none of these remove the hair.

  3. Melissa, there’s a lot of long stick/ pole in my car. Things like long umberlla, long snow shovels, long dust cleaner pole, etc. I would like to know how to stay organized them, able to keep all of them in the car while still able to pull them out ASAP when needed?


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