Spring is a time for fresh beginnings. We clean our homes, tend to our yards, and clear the clutter to make way for spring’s new adventures.
However, we often forget spaces that are in dire need of this freshening up: our cars and garages.
But not anymore. Because CARFAX created checklists that will help you easily tidy your car and garage, so you can convert the chaos into order and clarity.
That new car smell doesn’t seem to last long after so many hours commuting or shuttling kids to sports practice. Here’s how to get the ball rolling when it comes to spring cleaning to make your car feel good as new again:
1. Show some love to the seats and upholstery.
Driving your car in winter weather often results in passengers tracking snow, mud, and rock salt into the cabin. This can do a number on your upholstery, leaving you with seats that look dingy and splotchy.
Start by vacuuming these areas, and then take special care on spots and stains.
For cloth upholstery, get rid of dirt and debris by using a towel dampened with water to wipe down the seats.
If your car has leather seats, lightly dampen a towel in a mixture of five parts water and one part dishwashing liquid, and use the towel to gently ease away the grime.
Avoid getting the upholstery too wet, since this may cause stains.
Finally, pay special attention to the lower parts of the seats that are closest to the floor, since the plastic here is likely to be filthy.
2. Clean the carpets.
Caked-in mud on your car’s carpets is not a good look, but it’s a common remnant of harsh winter weather. If you have access to a carpet-cleaning machine, use it to rejuvenate your vehicle’s carpets.
A vacuum cleaner will get the job done in less severe cases. You can also remove the carpets from the cabin and scrub ground-in stains with a scrub brush and mild detergent.
3. Dust the surfaces.
Use a damp cloth to wipe down the console. There are electrical components underfoot, so be careful not to get this area too wet.
Use a wet cloth and old toothbrush to tackle gunk that may have built up in your car’s cup-holders.
Investigate your glove compartment and all other nooks and crannies with an eye for getting rid of trash and junk.
Polish the cabin’s windows and mirrors with glass cleaner.
4. Tackle the trunk or cargo compartment.
Hauling stuff can be a dirty business. It’s easy for your vehicle’s trunk or cargo area to fall victim to grime.
The first step is to clear out any junk that’s not needed on a daily basis or for emergencies. Then vacuum the floor of the trunk or cargo compartment, and wipe down all plastic areas with a damp cloth.
5. Add some shine to the exterior.
Household cleaning agents may damage a car’s paint. When cleaning a car’s exterior, it’s important to use a dedicated car-wash product. Rinse the car with water before applying the product, since this will loosen debris that could scratch the paint.
Protect the sheet metal by applying the car-wash product with a soft sponge. Avoid cleaning in a circular motion, since this can cause scratches. Instead, clean by moving the sponge along the length of the vehicle.
Wheels and tires can become blackened with dirt, so clean them with a separate sponge to avoid spreading this muck to other parts of the car.
Once you’re done cleaning, dry the car’s exterior using a chamois or soft towel (allowing the car to air dry can leave water marks).
6. Dive under the hood.
Leaves and branches can clog the engine area of your vehicle. Manually remove these intruders, and wipe down the edge of the engine area with a damp cloth.
It’s also a good time to refill your windshield wiper fluid so you can keep your windshield clean from the splashes of spring’s mud puddles.
Garages often become a vortex of jumble and disorder. Not to mention a home for the dirt, leaves, and debris that find their way in during the winter.
Here are five simple steps for cleaning and organizing your garage:
1. Remove items you haven’t recently used.
Garages can become storehouses for items that you haven’t used in eons. If you haven’t used an item in a long while, the chances are slim that you’ll need to use it in the future.
The best part:
When you need something back from storage, MakeSpace will deliver it to you.
2. Store bulkier items in the back.
The rear of the garage is an excellent place to store larger items like lawn mowers. Tucking these items away in the garage’s rearmost corners will keep them out of the way and will free up more usable space.
3. Organize items by frequency of use and swap them out each season.
Keep handy the items you use more often than others. Less-frequently used items can go in harder-to-reach areas.
You may only need your bike helmets and gardening tools during spring and summer, while your holiday decorations and snow chains are reserved for winter months.
When these items are out of season, store them on the highest shelf positions in well-labelled boxes. Reserve the lower positions for items that are currently in season. Make the switch as the seasons change.
4. Take an organized approach to storage.
It’s easier to find items when you need them if you group your belongings according to function.
Categorize your supplies: Tools, sports gear, and gardening supplies should all be grouped together.
This will save you time when you need your hammer or wrench for that DIY pegboard.
5. Scrub the floors.
Your car brings a lot of dirt into your garage, which leaves you with filthy floors. Keep the area sanitary, and safer, by sweeping the floors and hosing them down.
You don’t have to complete this checklist in a day, or even a week. Get as much cleaning done as your schedule permits, and be consistent in your efforts.
A spotlessly tidy car and garage that are ready to welcome all the new opportunities of spring (and summer).
Warren Clarke is a consumer advocate and writer for CARFAX, an online resource for used cars. As well as writing about car technology, he also enjoys sharing tips to keep your car tidy and maintain its value.