13 Weird Tricks to Clean Your Car | Reader's Digest

13 Weird Tricks to Clean Your Car

We found simple, cheap, unexpected tips on how to wash your car to keep it cleaner for longer.

Adapted by Damon Beres from More Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things
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    Hair conditioner for shine

    Wash your car with a hair conditioner containing lanolin. You'll become a believer when you see the freshly waxed look, and when you find that the surface will repel rain.

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    Fizz windshields clean with cola

    When it rains after a long dry spell, a dirty windshield turns into one big mess. Get rid of streaks and blotches by pouring cola over the glass. (Stretch a towel along the bottom of the windshield to protect hood paint.) The bubbles in the cola will fizz away the grime. Just be sure to wash the sticky cola off thoroughly or your cleaning efforts will end up attracting dust and dirt.

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    Vodka on the job

    When your windshield-washer reservoir needs filling, raid the liquor cabinet to make your own washing fluid. In a screw-top gallon jug, mix 3 cups vodka (the cheapest you can find) with 4 cups water and 2 teaspoons liquid dishwashing detergent. Screw on the cap and shake well, then pour as much fluid as needed into the reservoir.

    Shine those car lights

    Keep your headlights polished (and yourself, safe) by applying window cleaner and rubbing vigorously with an old pair of panty hose.

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    A one-step window cleaner

    Clean your windshield and car windows by rubbing them with baby wipes stored in your glove compartment. What could be easier?

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    No windshield washing fluid?

    If the reservoir is empty (and doesn't it always seem to be?), use an unlikely substitute to clean your windshield: feminine hygiene maxi-pads, a box of which you could stash in the trunk. Hold a pad on the sticky side and rub the windshield vigorously. The glass will really shine once you've wiped it to the max.

    Clean your blades

    If your windshield wiper blades get dirty, they'll streak the glass instead of keeping it clean and clear. Make a solution of 1/4 cup household ammonia to 1 quart cold water. Gently lift the blades, and wipe both sides with a soft cloth or paper towel soaked in the solution. Then wipe the blades with a dry cloth before lowering them into place.

    You can see clearly now

    Add 1/4 cup household ammonia to 1 quart water, pour it into a plastic bottle with a water-tight cap, and keep it in your car for washing the windshield and windows. As soon as your windshield begins to get dirty, take out the solution and apply it with a sponge; then dry the windshield with a soft cloth or paper towels.

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    Baking-soda car cleaner

    Pour 1/4 cup baking soda into a gallon-sized jug, then add 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid and enough water to fill the jug almost to the top. Screw on the cap, shake well, and store the concentrate for later use. When it comes time to wash the car, shake the jug vigorously and then pour 1 cup of cleaner base into a 2-gallon water pail. Fill the pail with warm water, stir to mix, and your homemade cleaning solution is ready to use.

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    Banish back-road dirt

    In many rural areas, so-called oil roads (some unpaved, others semi-paved) are sprayed with oil to control blowing sand and dust. If you find yourself driving along one of these back roads, your windshield may end up coated with oily grime. To cut through the muck, sprinkle cream of tartar over the windshield, and then wipe the glass down with soapy water, rinse well, and dry.

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    A surprising no-wax washer

    Add 1 cup kerosene to a 3-gallon pail filled with water and then sponge the solution over your car. You won't have to spray the car before washing or rinse or wax it once you're done. And the next time it rains, rainwater will bead up and roll off the car, lessening the likelihood of rusting.

    Watch the heat

    Washing your car when it's too hot—right after you've been driving it, for example, or when it's been parked in direct sunlight—can result in soapy splotches and deposits, says Consumer Reports.

    Avoid air drying

    Also according to Consumer Reports, air drying your car—or driving it around while it's wet—after washing can leave unsightly watermarks on its exterior. Use a chamois or a soft terry cloth, plus a squeegee to soak excess water up—just make sure it doesn't pick up dirt that can scratch the vehicle.

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    Your Comments

    • Art Lindielee

      Car windows – 50/50 white vinegar and water – perhaps a drop or two of dish washing liquid. Baby wipes – most contain harmful chemicals and should not be used on anyone’s skin and since they have conditioners for skin wouldn’t you have streaks from using them?

      I only use BW’s with rubber gloves to off ink and paint from rubber stamps and the conditioner keeps them from drying out. Feminine pads are great large gauze pads for first aid – cuts and scrapes and other medical needs. FP’s contain paper that shreds like cheep paper towels.

      Ammonia is highly toxic and corrosive it can burn eyes and skin.

    • Carbondioxide

      I have seen cautions against using window cleaners with ammonia for glass on cars. Keep that in mind for step # 7. Ammonia can attack auto glass and tint.

    • Linda DeLaney

      You can purchase a plain bottle of soda water and a plastic spray container and pour the soda water in the spray container. That way you can apply it exactly where you want it without harming the car’s finish. That is what I do and it works very well.

    • http://profiles.google.com/jpetrie12 James Petrie

      This article is stupid.

      Hair shampoo and dishwashing liquid will both strip the wax off your car. Why use a mix of vodka for windscreen cleaning, when I can buy two litres of the stuff for £2, which’ll do the same job?

    • Guest

      Cover your car with combustible kerosene? Seriously..

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1147160274 Brian Veatch

      Vodka, water, and dish detergent for windshield wiper fluid?   Or you could spend 99 cents and buy a gallon of real windshield wiper fluid.

    • Gianni

      I got a stain of Thenyl alcohol on my car and I can’t seem to find anything to remove it :-(…
      Does anyone has any tips for me? Thanks

    • Kevinod77

      These car cleaning tips are the worst! They do not even make sense! Why wouldn’t one just buy inexpensive windshield washer instead of using vodka? That is ridiculous! The same for pouring soda on a windshield. Do you know what sugar residue can do? Obviously not. I normally like your hints, but this deminishes your credibility tremendously. Kerosene??????????????????????

    • http://www.tantacoat.com/Super_Dots.html Shampoo & Protection car care

      Thanks i got the idea now for cleaning car.

    • Criticlh

      Unless you distill your own vodka in the basement it will still be cheaper to buy a good washer fluid at the auto parts store, especially if it’s on sale.