Everybody wants to keep their car clean; that’s just a universal goal for anyone who owns or leases a vehicle. A clean car is nice for a variety of reasons, and, while not everyone keeps their car clean, everyone wants to keep their car clean.
There’s a lot that goes into keeping a car clean. The interior, exterior, and windows and windshields are all an important part of a clean car. Clean one of two of these components without cleaning the third, and your car still won’t look that clean. However, all three of these parts of your car need to be cleaned with different methods, if you want to get the best results. The cleaner that you use for washing your exterior isn’t the best cleaner for your windows, or to use as windshield wiper cleaner. And it goes without saying that it’s not what you should clean your dashboard and steering wheel with.
As such, a comprehensive car cleaning requires a lot of different methods and products. But there’s no need to run to your local auto parts store and fill up your cart with cleaning products. Instead, you can do what we’re big fans of: you can make your own cleaners for each part of your car. We’ll show you how, and tell you why it’s for the best.
What are the consumer benefits of making your own cleaners?
You might be asking “Why?” Why make your own cleaners for your car when you can so easily purchase them from a store, or even order them online? As it turns out, there are a variety of reasons for why it’s beneficial to make your own cleaners, especially from a consumer perspective.
The biggest reason for homemade cleaners is based on cost. Simply put, making your own car cleaners is much more affordable than purchasing the products at an auto store (or even at a cheap online store such as Amazon). Sure, automotive cleaners don’t exactly break the bank, but they’re not the cheapest things in the world, either. If you plan on cleaning your car with regularity (which you really should do), then those costs quickly add up.
The materials and ingredients used in homemade cleaners are usually very affordable. There are also a lot of overlapping ingredients in cleaners for different parts of your car, as well as in cleaners for your home. In other words, you can buy many of the ingredients in large batches, and save even more money that way.
Making your own cleaners for your car also gives you a lot more control over the product. You can make it stronger or weaker based on what you and your car prefer. You can add specific scents, by adding a few drops of essential oils.
You can also whip up cleaner whenever you need it. Want to give your car a quick clean before a last minute date night, but you don’t have time to run to the auto parts store? No worries. You can just make it yourself, and be ready in no time.
And finally, with homemade cleaners, you know exactly what is going into your cleaner. You don’t need to worry about chemicals that you’re allergic to, or that you don’t like the smell of. You control exactly what goes into the cleaner for your paint, interior, windows, and windshields.
What are the environmental benefits of making your own cleaners?
Long story short, cleaners for your paint, your interior, and your windows and windshield are simply very bad for the environment. These cleaners are filled with harmful chemicals that, when released to the atmosphere, or washed off of your car, can do serious damage.
If you’ve ever read the instructions on car paint cleaners, you’ve probably noticed that most of the time they suggest parking your car on asphalt rather than on grass. That’s a little bit of a red flag.
Of course, there are always green cleaners that you can purchase. Many companies advertise cleaners for your paint, interior, and glass that are supposedly friendlier to the environment. While a lot of them are indeed more environmentally friendly, most of them are still very bad for the environment. And the ones that don’t damage the environment are usually far more expensive than most of the cleaners.
In other words, it’s a lose-lose. Thankfully the ingredients you use when making your own cleaners are much better for the environment. In fact, they’re not particularly harmful at all. That means that if you use homemade exterior, interior, and glass cleaners, you can do so with a clean conscience, and do your part towards protecting the environment.
But the chemicals in the cleaners aren’t the only environmentally harmful part. Most cleaners, be they for paint, leather, or glass, come in environmentally unfriendly packaging. They usually come in plastic bottles that are very bad for the environment, and often those are packaged in plastic as well. By making your own cleaners (especially if you buy your ingredients in large amounts), you can limit how much plastic waste you’re contributing. Every little bit counts, and this is a great opportunity to do your part for the earth.
How to make a homemade cleaner for your car’s exterior
Exterior paint is the most important part of your car to clean with homemade cleaner. The reason for this is very simple. You need to use a lot more of your cleaning product when cleaning your vehicle’s exterior than when cleaning other parts of your car.
This means that paint cleaner has the potential to be a lot more wasteful. The large amounts that are used can be very environmentally detrimental, and it can also cost you a lot more money because of the amount of product that you end up using.
So if you’re only going to make one homemade cleaner for your vehicle, we strongly suggest that you opt for an exterior cleaner. You’ll use it a lot, you’ll save a bunch of money, and you’ll help the world be a little bit more green.
Making a cleaner for your car’s exterior is also incredibly easy. However, if you want to do a thorough job, or if you simply have a very dirty car that needs special attention, you’ll need to make a few different products. But don’t worry! They’re all incredibly simple, and rely on only basic household ingredients that you likely already have in the pantry or under the sink.
Your basic cleaner is very easy to remember: one gallon of hot water, and ¼ cup of household soap. For the most part, you can use whatever soap you use at home, but there are a few things to be careful of. Ideally, you want to use a soap with an oil base, and you want to always avoid soaps made specifically for washing dishes, as those can cause serious damage to the paint on your vehicle. Otherwise, any generic household soap should do the trick; you can even use shampoo if you prefer!
Household soaps are much more affordable than specialty automotive cleaning products, and a lot better for the environment as well. However, before you use this basic homemade cleaning solution, there are a few other things to consider.
If your car has any excess grit or dirt on it, you’ll want to rinse that off before doing your soap clean. Thankfully, that homemade cleaning mixture is even easier! Simply add one cup of baking soda to one gallon of hot water, and then use a sponge or a microfiber towel to wipe down the car. This will help you get dirt and grease off of the car so that you don’t work it into the paint when you use your soap-based cleaner.
If you have tree sap, or some other sticky substance that simply will not come off, you can get it off in a few different ways. Denatured alcohol is one way, but peanut butter, vegetable shortening, and regular butter all work wonders as well. Simply put whichever product you choose on the tree sap, let it sit for a few minutes, and then try to wipe the sap off with a microfiber towel. Repeat the process until you’re happy with the results.
We know it sounds weird, but it really does work!
After you’ve gotten the grime and tree sap off of your car, you can do a thorough cleaning with the soap-based cleaning product you made, and then the exterior of your car will be looking great.
How to make a homemade cleaner for your car’s interior
Cleaning the interior of your vehicle can be a little bit tricky. There are so many different components in your car’s cabin, and most cars utilize numerous different materials. On top of that, unlike a car’s paint job, the interior of a vehicle can be stained, can develop bad or bizarre odors, and can even mold or rot.
For these reasons and many others, it’s very important to not only clean your interior, but to clean it the right way. And that means using different products for different parts of the interior, to make sure that you are always using the proper cleaning solution.
Like we mentioned, that can get a little tricky, and it can certainly be a little confusing. But don’t worry: we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know.
First, you need an all-purpose cleaner for your car’s interior. You can keep this product in a spray bottle, and rely on it to clean down your dashboard, leather seats, center console, and any other part of your vehicle with vinyl, leather, or hard plastic. This solution is incredibly straightforward: one part cold water, and one part rubbing alcohol. Simply spray it on, and wipe it off with a microfiber towel, and your car’s cabin will already be looking a lot better.
However, if you really want the vinyl, leather, and plastic in your car to shine, then you’ll need to polish it a little bit after you clean it. You can do that by adding a mixture that is two parts olive oil, and one part lemon juice (always use fresh lemon juice). Apply a small amount of that to any hard parts in your vehicle’s cabin, except your pedals and shift lever, as this product will make things slippery.
If you have stains on your car, then you’ll want to use a basic household product to help get them out. For vinyl, leather, and plastic, try rubbing toothpaste on the stain. If that doesn’t work, move on to something stronger: rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol can, however, leave a stain, so be conservative in the amount that you use.
For stains in fabric, add cornstarch, and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour, then vacuum up. If that doesn’t do the job, you can opt for a basic cleaning solution of one part white vinegar, one part water. Finally, if you really need a hardcore cleaning solution for your fabric, mix equal parts dish soap, white vinegar, and club soda. That will do the trick.
Finally, you want a cleaning solution for odors, and this one is really easy. Simply put some baking soda on the fabric where the odor is, let it sit for a few hours, and vacuum it up.
Using household products to clean your interior is not only better for the environment, but keeps you from having to buy half a dozen different cleaners for each different purpose.
How to make a homemade cleaner for your car’s windows and windshields
Washing your windows and windshields is one of the most important parts of keeping up appearances with a vehicle. Often times it’s hard to actually notice the windows and windshields in a car. They don’t really look dirty, per se, but the car doesn’t particularly look clean, either.
Then you wash the windows and windshields, and it can suddenly look like you have a brand new car! Honestly, it’s our favorite part of cleaning a car, for that very reason. You don’t notice them when they’re dirty, but you certainly notice them when they’re clean.
Glass cleaners can run an oddly high price, but they’re very easy to make. And you can always make them in large batches, and store them under your sink, or in your garage. That’s what we do: we always have a large amount of homemade glass cleaner handy.
To make a homemade cleaner for your windows and windshield, mix one part rubbing alcohol with two parts distilled white vinegar, and four parts cold water. Then add the mixture to a spray bottle, and just like that you have everything you need to clean your windows and windshields.
Once your solution is made, spray it onto the glass in your car, and wipe off with newspaper. It’s important to use newspaper because almost any other material will either cause streaking, shed on the glass, or do both. And that will suddenly make your nondescript windows and windshields look horrible, which is the opposite of what you want.
So instead, use newspaper, and clean the windows and windshields working side to side, rather than swirling. Then clean up any spots that you missed. If you have a squeegee, you can also use that if you prefer.
It’s also important to always clean your windows and windshields after cleaning your paint, never before. That way you don’t end up streaking dirty water and other cleaning solutions down your glass after you’ve already cleaned it. Save the glass washing for the end, and your car will look as good as new.
In addition to being cheap, easy, and environmentally friendly, this window and windshield solution has an extra added benefit: you can use it on the glass in your homes! We keep a bottle of this not just for the car, but for the windows in our house as well. Then, anytime there are gross are grungy grease marks, fingerprints, or bird poop on the windows of our house, we have a ready made solution to clean them off.
How to make a homemade windshield wiper solution for your car
Last, but very certainly not least, you can easily make a windshield wiper solution for your vehicle. Windshield wiper fluid is a very basic concept: your car stores a large amount of this cleaning solution, and when you press a button or lever the cleaning solution is sprayed onto your front windshield, and sometimes your back one a well. Then the windshield wiper wash and wipe away the fluid, and your car windshield stay nice and clean. They look better, and you have better visibility.
Most people either pay for windshield wiper fluid that they add to their car, or wait until they get their oil changed and hope they get a free refill (or sometimes a not very free refill!). But doing so can waste time and money, while also resulting in a solution that can be environmentally detrimental.
So, as with the other solutions we’ve listed here, we simply make our own windshield wiper fluid. It’s just as effective at keeping glass clean when you’re driving, and it doesn’t have any of the negative side effects that you get with the other products.
Making a windshield wiper fluid is incredibly easy. The basic solution is simply three parts water to one part distilled white vinegar. See? Didn’t we say it was easy? Simply mix up those two ingredients, add the solution to the windshield wiper fluid canister under the hood of your car (consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual if you’re not sure where the canister is), and you’re good to go.
However, while we’re big fans of this solution, you’ll want to change it up a little bit if you live in an extreme climate. This mixture isn’t likely to freeze, but it can with very cold conditions. If you live in a place with extremely cold weather, add about one part of rubbing alcohol, or vodka to your solution. That way it’s unlikely to freeze (if you’re unsure about how much to add, you can leave the solution outside and see if it freezes).
Likewise, this solution isn’t ideal if it’s too hot out, as the vinegar can produce a foul odor. If you live somewhere that regularly registers triple figures in Fahrenheit, mix water with a small splash of window cleaner. If you use commercial window cleaner then that will work, but we obviously advocate for the homemade product listed in the previous section!
Making your own windshield wiper fluid is incredibly easy, and it can save you a lot of hassle, while helping the environment. It’s an easy way to achieve a win-win situation.
Cleaning your car is important. With a clean car, you convey professionalism and organization. You look better to people who see you driving, and you feel a lot better every time you go to get in your car. It makes owning or leasing a car more satisfying, and driving a car more comfortable.
But keeping your car clean can cost money, and you can flood your garage with a bunch of products that you rarely use. On top of all of that, you can do serious environmental damage with commercial cleaners.
By making your own cleaners for your car’s paint, interior, windows, and windshields, you can end up with a car that looks stellar, is environmentally responsible, and doesn’t break the bank.
What’s not to like?