young man polishing vintage car

Top Car Cleaning Hacks

So, your car has seen better days. The upholstery is looking a bit worn, and the once-shiny windows are now…well, not so shiny. Sure, you could take your car to a professional cleaner—or you could save your money and spruce things up yourself. Here are our top car-cleaning hacks.

Shine A Light

After a few years of driving, the plastic on a car’s headlights tends to oxidize, giving it a cloudy, yellowish appearance. That film can be dangerous because it cuts down the amount of light they cast. You could splurge on an expensive buffing compound to clean them up, or opt for a cheaper solution—toothpaste. Just dab some on a rag and rub away. Once you’re done, rinse with water; you’ll be amazed by the difference.

Window Polish Perfection

Have your kids decided to do some finger-painting on your car’s windshield? To give your windows a streak-free shine, follow these easy steps.

Combine ¼ cup of vinegar with ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol. Add two cups of water and a few drops of lemon essential oil. Mix together and add the contents to a spray bottle. You’ve now got a solution that will have your windshield, windows and rear-view mirrors looking spotless. Try wiping down your windows with old newspapers—you might be surprised with the streak-free results.

Dashing Dashboards

If your vinyl dashboard has seen better days, there’s an easy way to get it looking new again: take a slightly damp cloth and run it over all the surfaces. This will remove dust and grime. For tougher stains, use a small amount of the mildest laundry soap you can find—the plastic and vinyl on dashboards can be scratched or discolored by abrasive cleaners. When you’re done, wipe away excess soap and moisture with a soft, clean, dry cloth.

Bye Bye, Bugs

Dead bugs—is there anything harder to clean off your car? Some people rent power washers to blast them away, while others opt for cleaners laden with special enzymes and harsh chemicals.  But those solutions are both expensive and could damage your finish. The better way? Wet your car and apply a healthy dose of car soap, which you probably already have on hand, with a soft washing mitt. Work in small areas and rinse each section when you’re done. With a minimal amount of elbow grease, those critters will start dropping like, well, flies.

Make sure you and your vehicle are covered for anything that happens on the road. Visit geico.com for a quick auto insurance quote today!

Keep reading…5 Cleaning Hacks for Your Home

Get GEICO Auto insurance.

    Leave a comment

  1. Martha Frias says,

    Learned a lot – awesome advise. Things I did not know or think about. Will keep in mind information learned.

  2. Alvin Hill says,

    Having a good set of tools and cables in the garage or your other vehicle will not help you in an emergency. Place those tools in the vehicle you will be driving each day.

  3. Michelle O. says,

    I use the Magic cleaner sponges on my white car to pull the hard to get dirt out of the paint. They really make the fine stratches and dings disappear. Only water is needed, no chemicals, and it is almost effortless. No painful fingers after!

  4. orimarjr says,

    What’s is the best way to fix a squeaky windshield. Those wipers seem to work extra hard during rain.

    Thank you

  5. Ed tupper says,

    Tried downloading the geico app from the App Store and all I get is a constant loading without anything actually happening.

  6. Kris says,

    You shared a great tip for using toothpaste to clean the plastic headlight covers kind like . Does it require anything in particular like a formula with baking soda? Thank you for the clarification.

    • Michael Andrella says,

      This is not the proper way to fix headlights. Yellowing is caused by the outer plastic being damaged by UV degradation. This damaged layer needs to be removed to properly resolve the issue. This requires using several grades of sandpaper and polishing compound. A coat of auto paint sealant after repair every 4-6 months will help prevent this from reoccurring.

      A quality auto detailer in your area would charge approx. $50-75 for this service and it takes about a hour.

      • Frances DeLuca says,

        Meguiar’s PLASTIX, sold in the auto section. Wipe on with a cloth. Wipe off with a clean cloth. Clear headlights!

    • Joseph Primm says,

      Waterspots on a new (or old) red and/or black finish can be a real pain. I use Meguiar’s M30516 Ultra Finishing Glaze. Works excellent, is easy to apply, price is great at about $1 an ounce, gets rid of the spots and really makes your finish pop. I apply with microfiber cloth just turning the cloth to keep it air dried. Works great!

    • Michael Andrella says,

      Clay bar is your friend in this situation. Meguiar’s sells a kit that is just what you need for around $20. Claying is extremely simple and fool proof as long as you follow the directions.

      Good luck!

    • frank says,

      Use Eucalyptus Oil on tar spots. Rub with soft cloth dipped in Oil on affected area till spots are absorbed. Rinse off and dry.

  7. Dave says,

    Another alternative to remove bugs is to use fabric softener sheets. Wet car and use the sheets to scrubs off bugs. You will be surprise!