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5 Hacks to Speed-Clean Your Car Without Harsh Chemicals


No need to pay for a pricey commercial car wash or use chemical-laden cleaning products. These household staples get your car ready for summer road-trip fun —and fast!

Lift dust in seconds with a dryer sheet.

To wipe away the layer of dust and pollen on your dash and seats, just grab a dryer sheet. “It’s gentle enough not to scratch your dashboard, and it has a static charge that traps dust,” says auto-cleaning expert Diana Rodriguez-Zaba of ServiceMaster Restoration. “If leather seats require a deeper clean, combine ½ cup of olive oil and ¼ cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle and lightly spritz your seats,” she suggests. Let sit for 5 minutes, then wipe. Cloth seats? Simply replace the olive oil with dish soap, which will lift stains and residue instantly.

Shine windows with a produce bag.

Ugh! Dirt, tree sap and pollen have formed a dingy film on your windshield. The easy fix: Grab a mesh produce bag — the kind onions, potatoes and lemons are all sold in, says Rodriguez-Zaba. “Spray down your windshield with a hose, sprinkle on some baking soda, then bunch up the bag and gently scrub.” The edges of the netting combined with the mild abrasiveness of the baking soda will gently lift stuck-on grime and debris.

Get tires gleaming with a mineral oil ‘buff’.

Keep tires looking new with a simple DIY wax seal. “In a spray bottle, combine 1 cup of mineral or baby oil, ½ cup of water, and two or three drops of liquid dish soap,” says Rodriguez-Zaba. “Shake well and spritz generously onto tires, then wipe with a clean cloth. This simple brew will clean your tires, as well as seal them, repelling dust and dirt the next time you go for a drive.”

Wash away grime with baby shampoo.

The gentle way to wash your car? Just pour ¼ cup of baby shampoo into a bucket of warm water, then use a large sponge to wipe the car’s exterior and rinse with your hose. Auto expert Christopher Altschul, president of, says, “The shampoo won’t strip the protective layers from your car, but it will bind to dirt and grime, leaving your vehicle looking new.”

Outsmart odors with a charcoal sock.

Make odors “hit the road” by tucking charcoal into a sock and placing it in your cup holder. Charcoal absorbs smells and moisture, nixing mustiness. And to infuse your car with a fresh scent, consider whipping up an all-natural deodorizer, says Rodriguez-Zaba. “In a spray bottle, mix 1 cup of distilled water and 10 drops of the essential oil of your choice and spray the interior.”

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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