Greener BeeGreen TipsGreen, Kid-Friendly Spring Cleaning Tips for Vehicle Interiors

Ah, spring–Mother Nature blesses us with sun, rain and…mud! Winter snow and ice make car cleaning virtually impossible. Mix spring mud and post-winter debris and the vehicle interior is trashed. Here are five cheap, easy, green tips for spring cleaning the car interior.

Involve the whole family. If you have kids, chances are they lent a hand getting the car dirty? So they should help clean it. Cleaning up after themselves teaches children to be more careful. Distribute plastic gloves. Collect and dispose of trash. Empty trunk. Remove and clean detachable items: beverage holders, car seats, toy bags. Run plastics through dishwasher or soak in bucket of soapy water. Remove any cloth pieces and wash in washing machine. Clean car seats with upholstery (see next step).

Vacuum interior thoroughly. No need to spend money at a car wash vacuum. A wet-dry Shop-Vac works just as well (a great investment that pays for itself over and over again). Or use any vacuum with hose attachment will do. You just can’t use it on wet or sticky spills. Plug vacuum into outside outlet or use a long outdoor heavy duty extension cord. Use the bristle brush to loosen any dried-on crud. Use wand extension to clean under and between seats and into seat cushions. Vacuum floor. Touch up cloth upholstery with a lint brush. Or, wrap tape (sticky side out) around your hand to remove lint.

Murphy Oil Soap scrub-down. In 1992, we bought a secondhand car with a filthy cloth interior (that’s how we got it cheap). My father recommended cleaning carpet and upholstery with Murphy’s and we’ve been loyal users ever since. Murphy Oil Soap removes stains and grime and does not fade or damage fabric. It’s safe to use on all surfaces: plastic, carpet, cloth, metal, wood, vinyl, leather. Make a warm soapy solution, and scrub with soft, old rags (use less linty ones). Rub Murphy’s directly on stains. Scrub an hour later. Don’t forget to clean built-in beverage holders, ash trays, glove compartment, seat pockets, storage areas, trunk.

Detailing. This job is perfect for the littlest children who can scramble about in tiny places. And it keeps them busy! Make homemade disinfectant wipes (paper towels soaked in baking soda and vinegar.) Kids will love watching soda and vinegar fizz. This makes a natural polish-cleanser. Show kids how to wipe down dashboard, seat belts, door panels. Then they can clean cracks and crevices around delicate areas (iPod dock, radio, GPS) with cotton swabs (teach them to use safely).

Windows. First, scrub with the homemade wipes you made for detailing. Then put baking soda vinegar solution in spray bottle, apply and wipe with newspapers. My mother-in-law taught us this trick and she’s super-fussy about her car. It really works to cut smudges and streaks on windows.

Clean everything you removed and replace it. The Murphy scrub will leave your vehicle fresh-smelling.

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