1. Pump up your fuel mileage

hyper-miling
Anna Kraynova / ShutterStock

Unless you’re part of the 7% of Americans who Pew Research says currently own an electric car, chances are buying gas is one of those necessary evils that brings you full-body dread.

With pump prices higher than they’ve been in decades, you may have wondered how to make that full tank last as long as possible.

A potential solution is to try “hyper-miling” — CBS News describes it as a number of eco-friendly, fuel-saving tips that add up in the long haul.

Try leaving extra space between your car and the car in front of you, so you can coast to a stop rather than riding the brake. Also try riding in the slow lanes and driving behind large vehicles to reduce wind resistance. Slow and steady is the name of the game.

Keeping your tires inflated and making your car as light as possible, by removing things like car racks if they’re not being used, also helps your fuel economy.

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2. Use baking soda before vacuuming

Male worker using vacuum cleaner in car
Africa Studio / Shutterstock

When cleaning your car, kill two birds with one stone by drizzling baking soda over your seats a few minutes before vacuuming.

Baking soda reacts with acidic and alkaline molecules — aka stinky stuff — and neutralizes them.

So not only are you vacuuming up crumbs, but also the stench.

Considering how useful baking soda is, you may want to roll up to the store and buy a quantity in bulk. According to website Plant Care Today, a 3:1 mixture of baking soda and water can help take years off your wheel rims, and with a bit of care, it can also remove the corrosion from your car batteries.

Baking soda is an abrasive cleaner, so it can’t be used as a cure-all or a “clean-it-all” — Reader’s Digest cautions against using it on glass — but given its ability to clean and destinkify, you might want to make it a permanent part of your car kit, along with your spare tire, flashlight and flares.

3. Buff vinyl with a Magic Eraser

Cleaning car interior with Magic Eraser
Apex Detail / YouTube

The “magic” in a Magic Eraser works like a charm to remove pesky scuff marks on your vehicle’s vinyl and leather.

Just be careful. Used correctly, a Magic Eraser is a quick and easy way to detail your interior. But on certain surfaces — like anything with a clear coat of paint or old, worn-out leather — its micro-abrasion can cause damage.

Magic erasers are made out of melamine foam, which, as Family Handyman tells us, is porous enough to lift most stains with just a bit of water, no other cleaning solutions needed. But, because it acts like sandpaper, it is not recommended for use on things like exterior paint.

Potentially the best part is that Magic Erasers aren’t expensive — online retailers price a pack of eight erasers at under $20 — and they can be used for a variety of cleaning purposes. It’s worth repeating that, while magic erasers can be magical indeed, they are abrasive and should not be used on delicate surfaces, unless you’re aiming for that distressed look.

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4. Use your noodle

Brightly coloured orange and yellow polyethylene foam pool noodles floating on a swimming pool. Creative concept, summer fun
@JosieElias / Twenty20

Yes, cars are ergonomically designed to provide the safest, most pleasant trip from point A to point B. What’s not perfectly designed, however, are those cracks between the seats — where little things can slip through and be lost forever.

If, by any chance, you drop your phone into that deep, dark crevasse, best of luck to you because it can feel like an escape room puzzle trying to get it out.

This struggle has a couple of solutions. For one, you can keep a clothes hanger in your car to fish out what needs to be found. Or, according to Family Handyman, you can measure and cut a piece of foam pipe — aka a pool noodle — and wedge it between your seats and the center console.

The best part is that you probably already have a spare hanger lying around the house, and you can usually find a pool noodle at your local dollar store for cheap.

5. Spray out dust vents with compressed air

Cleaning car vents with compressed air
Wikimedia Commons

Vents can be a pain to clean. If using your fingernails doesn’t cut it, you can either buy a special vent brush or use a can of compressed air.

Normal compressed air should remove any dust gunking up the vents.

It’s important to clean your vents, not just because dirty vents are unsightly, but because air filters are intrinsic to a well-functioning car.

As D. Wells Automotive in Illinois says, clean filters can help you use fuel in a more efficient way — according to their research, older models have seen 14% improvement in their efficiency after doing this simple maintenance.

Cleaning your air flow system can also save your spark plugs, reduce your vehicle’s emissions, add years of life to your engine and prevent the growth of mold.

If you’d like an even deeper clean, you can also pick up aerosol sprays designed specifically for cleaning vents and killing odors.

6. Make carpet stain remover at home

Person Cleaning Stain On Carpet With Spray Bottle
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

If you have a few stains in your carpet, there’s no need to buy an entire jug of car carpet cleaner. Instead, make some yourself.

Mix together a solution with one part hydrogen peroxide, two parts water, and one drop of lemon essential oil per ounce of solution.

To prevent the peroxide from breaking down, you either need to mix your concoction inside the original peroxide bottle or find another dark-colored bottle.

Douse the stained area with your DIY carpet cleaner, wait a couple minutes, and scrub it out. Many websites caution that you only use a 3% solution, otherwise you may stain your carpet.

Not only does the mixture lift out tough stains, but you’ll also have plenty of essential oil left over to freshen up your home or body — much more useful than a jug of car carpet cleaner gathering dust in your garage.

7. Borrow a cup of salt

Bags of Ice Beater brand snow and ice melter calcium chloride
Red Herring / ShutterStock

There is nothing more unnerving than driving down a street during the winter, losing traction on your wheels and fishtailing.

If that’s happened to you, it might be a sign that you need to add a little bit more weight to the trunk of your car. A few bags of road salt should do the trick to steady you, according to an article by Reader’s Digest. Not only does road salt add necessary weight to your car, but it can also be used to melt you out of icy situations.

Be cautioned that if your vehicle has front-wheel drive, weighing your car down won’t work for you. Lee Schwab Tires explains that, because 65% of your car’s weight in such a vehicle is positioned over the front wheels, putting extra weight in the back will actually destabilize it.

You can, however, prevent fishtailing by driving below the recommended speed limit and avoiding spots you know will have black ice during the early morning and evening hours.

8. Condition your dashboard with Vaseline

Vaseline petroleum jelly
Steve Calcott / Flickr

Vaseline has over 100 uses. One of those uses is conditioning your vehicle’s dashboard.

Instead of buying pricey car detailing wipes or sprays, simply smear a little Vaseline around your dry dashboard using a microfiber cloth. You don’t need much.

When you’re finished, fold the cloth and store it in your glove box.

The Vaseline won’t dry out, and if your dash starts losing its shine, you can wipe it down again using the same cloth.

Once you’re done spiffing up your dashboard, beauty website Bellatory says you can use it to coat the terminals around your car’s battery to prevent corrosion. Bellatory says that it can even be used as a replacement for WD-40 in some cases.

The best news is that this petroleum product is easy on your car and wallet — online retailers like Amazon price a pack of two 13-ounce containers at $10.

9. Choose the right gasoline

gas pump nozzles
Melinda Fawver / ShutterStock

Only on rare occasions do you actually need to buy premium gasoline.

As Bob Vila tells it, the difference between 87 and 93 octane gas will not make much of an impact on your car.

To explain further, Geico says that auto manufacturers will only prescribe higher-octane fuel if the vehicle has a higher-compression engine, turbochargers or other high-performance functions.

If you want to know if your vehicle needs premium fuel, more often than not, that information will be in the manual. Other than that, the lower-priced pump should do just fine.

To save even more money for your next fill-up, try following Geico’s 10-second rule: If you think your car will be idling for more than 10 seconds, turn it off. The U.S. Department of Energy’s guidance states that idling can cost you half a gallon of fuel per hour, while it takes only a few seconds of fuel to restart your vehicle.

10. Polish leather with olive oil

Car detailing series : Cleaning car interior
Bhakpong / Shutterstock

All leather fades over time. But if you take care of it, you can extend its lifetime.

Sure, you can treat leather with expensive leather cleaners. But if you want to save money (and a trip to the store), just use olive oil.

Dab a rag with olive oil, and massage the leather in a circular motion to work it into the material.

Be careful though: Fabric restoration experts Fibre New caution against using too much olive oil. Leather is highly permeable, meaning that the oil will seep through to the back and over time it will rise to the surface of the leather again, making it look mottled.

But it’s good for an occasional quick fix, and better yet, it can minimize the look of scratches and nicks.

When you’re finished, wipe away any extra oil and let it dry — you don’t want it on your clothes.

11. Sock it to those cup holders

Windex bottle
Ajay Suresh / WIkimedia Commons

Cup holders are magnets for crumbs. Fortunately, cleaning them is a cinch.

First, you will need to grab a travel cup that fits snugly in your cup holder and then cover it with a spare sock. Spray the sock with Windex, and then twist it around inside the cup holder.

The sock should be able to pick up all the crud hiding in the curves of the cup holder. This hack is especially useful if you have giant hands.

This hack can be duplicated for those other hard-to-reach places in your car. Just put the sock over your hand, spray the fabric with Windex, and watch the grime disappear from the interior panels faster than you can make a sock puppet joke.

Windex is of course made of a lot of heavy-duty chemicals, and while there do not seem to be any contraindications for use on the side panels, if you are worried about using it on your car, check your manual for info on the specific cleaners your car likes.

12. Wash the floor mats in your machine

Close-up of a hand holding a dirty black rubber car floor mat with accelerator and brake inside the cabin before dusting, vacuuming, dry cleaning, washing the car.
NAN2535 / Shutterstock

Dirty floor mats can ruin the aesthetic of a nice car.

The problem is, unless you have a No Shoes policy in your car, they’re nearly impossible to keep clean.

That’s where your washing machine comes in. Instead of breaking your back trying to wash them by hand, just shake them out, squirt on stain remover, and throw them in the washing machine with normal detergent.

If there is a smell or a stain that is just too fragrant for your liking, you can always do a spot-replace.

If you are fairly confident in your DIY skills, rather than cutting along the car humps to expose the frame, Home Guides says you can take a utility knife to cut out the most offending section of your carpet, and then measure a new piece to take its place.

Many home improvement stores have carpet samples that you can buy for much less than a full replacement or professional job.

13. Plunge those dents

Sink plunger on the hood of the car.
Igor Shoshin / ShutterStock

You may think that tiny dents in your car are just eyesores, but beyond the aesthetics, they can be a precursor to some serious damage.

As repair expert Caversham Coachworks says, if your paint is damaged along with the frame, the cracks will start taking on moisture. This can cause rust as it oxidizes, and rust can impair your car’s performance. Dents may also hide underlying structural damage.

To get rid of smaller dents right away, grab a plunger from your bathroom. That’s right, your garden-variety rubber plunger will be able to help you out of this jam.

Put the plunger over the dent, making sure the rubber is sealed on the car frame. When you plunge it, the suction you create should smooth out the dent in no time flat.

It must be said that, depending on the severity of your fender bender, plunging your car should not be done in place of going to a professional mechanic, but it can save you a pretty penny in minor cases.

14. Microfiber is your best friend

A man cleaning car with microfiber cloth, car detailing (or valeting) concept
Atstock Productions / Shutterstock

Every car owner should have a microfiber mitten and a stack of microfiber cloth.

Microfiber mittens soak up tons of water, allowing you to quickly hand wash your car.

Sure, automatic car washes are convenient, but they’re also notorious for leaving scratches. And when you consider the time it takes to drive to the car wash, wait in line, wash, and drive home — you could have just done it yourself and saved 10 bucks.

That said, finishing with streak-free windows can be a challenge. You might be tempted to reach for the glass cleaner, but resist the urge. Instead, just wipe your windows with a damp cloth, then use a dry microfiber cloth to dry them.

According to Toronto car detailing experts Automotive Training Centres, microfiber is useful for cars because their tiny fibers — which are a fraction of the diameter of a human hair — lift the dirt away from the car and keep it in the cloth. Microfiber also has about four times the surface area of cotton and is extremely soft and non-abrasive.

15. Roll those windows down

Interior of car with open window and green trees on back
Merydolla / Shutterstock

If you’re going to wash your car, might as well do it thoroughly. Most people forget to roll the windows down to clean the dirt off the top of the window.

It might not seem like a big deal. But if rain causes that hidden dirt to streak down the side of your car, all your car-washing effort will have been in vain.

Just don’t forget to roll them back up before spraying off the rest of the car.

Cars need a fair amount of regular maintenance in order to function at their best, so it’s a good idea to take some time to look for little signs that your car might need a tune-up, like checking the windows.

Cleaning them can help you notice tiny nicks in the glass, which could spread if left unattended. While nicks are usually minor and you can take care of them yourself, if the nick is on your windshield and it “spider-webs” enough to obstruct your view, you’ll need to replace the glass completely.

Various sources around the web quote a windshield replacement between $200 and $400.

16. Use WD-40 to remove bugs and bird poop

WD-40 can
ajay_suresh / Wikimedia Commons

Splattered bugs and stubborn bird droppings usually don’t come off with your typical soap-and-water wash.

You need to bring in the heavy artillery: WD-40.

WD-40 can remove just about any type of gunk from your paint and grill without causing damage. Just make sure to rinse with soap and water when you’re finished.

Although the ingredients of WD-40 are a closely guarded secret, a lab analysis conducted by reporters at Wired found that the degreaser is composed of mineral oil and various alkanes, which are saturated hydrocarbons.

The alkanes in WD-40 — which apparently stands for “water displacement, 40th attempt,” according to Wired — give it its lubricating and solvent functions. The solvents loosen the crud from your car and the oils help it slide off.

Your car can use WD-40 in all sorts of different ways, including greasing squeaky joints and stuck hinges, buffing the chrome surfaces and safeguarding your battery.

Heavy artillery, indeed.

17. Put a sock on it

Row of snowy cars with windshield wipers up to avoid icing
@reinasierra / Twenty20

One of the worst parts about driving in the winter is getting your car ready to go after a big snowstorm. You have to clear the snow off, warm up the engine to make sure it doesn’t stall and spend ages scraping ice off the windshield.

If the forecast calls for snow, taking a few minutes out of your day can save you a lot of time in the long run. Prep your windshield for easier cleanup by propping the wipers in an upright position, and then slipping socks over the blades.

Experts at Car Fax say that while we need to be careful when propping up the wipers, this helps them not freeze to the windshield — and blades that have stayed warm help clear the windshield much faster than cold ones.

So while it may look like your car is running away without you, using socks as part of your preventative winter maintenance makes easy, cost-effective sense.

18. Make those headlights sparkle with toothpaste

Cleaning headlights with toothpaste
Junky DIY guy / YouTube

Foggy and yellow headlights are not only unattractive, but they are also dangerous.

A study by AAA showed that cloudy headlights can reduce the effectiveness of the lights by up to 78%.

Because cloudy headlights only produce around 20% of the light that clear ones do, it can lead to more dangerous night driving conditions, conditions that might be easily fixed. AAA estimates that around 50% of car crashes happen at night; it makes sense to take care of your headlights as soon as the need arises.

Headlights get cloudy for a variety of reasons, including exposure to sunlight, which can damage the protective coatings. Sometimes they get covered in dirt just from driving around.

While you shouldn’t hesitate to replace your headlights in the event of a more serious issue, that can cost hundreds of dollars.

To save money on a professional cleaning, you can clear up those cloudy lights by squirting on some baking soda toothpaste.

Household experts at Family Handyman say you should first wash and dry the headlights, so that they’re clean before you apply any paste. Then apply the toothpaste to the headlights, while protecting the paint; smear it around with a cloth, then rinse.

19. Get stickers off with heat

Modern hair dryer on color background
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock

Bumper stickers are fun to put on, but not fun to take off. The trick to loosening them up is to use heat.

First things first, run a damp cloth over the bumper sticker you want to remove.

Then, grab a hairdryer, turn it on to its highest setting and heat up the sticker. If you start in the center, and then move out to the edges, that will ensure that the center is still hot once you start peeling, according to car experts Carfax. Once it’s nice and hot, slip a credit card underneath the edges and slowly work them up, reheating as needed.

If the sticker is on your window, a razor blade works even better. Once the sticker is off, wipe off any remaining residue using distilled vinegar.

Bon Appetit says that the acetic acid in white vinegar helps break down adhesive glue left behind by the sticker, making it easy for you to erase both the slogan, and the memories, from your car.

20. Rubbing alcohol can get those wiper blades clean

Brushes on the windshield with copy space. The concept of cleaning agent, polishing, nanocoatings
Art_rich / Shutterstock

There’s nothing more annoying than wiper blades that leave huge streaks across your window. Most people assume the solution is to buy new wiper blades, but not so fast.

Sometimes the wiper blade itself is fine — it just has dirt or dried soap gunking it up.

To remove it, dip a microfiber cloth in rubbing alcohol, then run it along the blade. If it removes the streaking, you just saved yourself a trip to the store.

Eagle Ridge Dealership says that rubbing alcohol stops your wipers from squeaking as well as streaking, because excess grime can cause them to make an unholy racket. They recommend rubbing down the wiper blades about once a month.

If you want to add a little oomph to your isopropyl, back it up with some fine or medium-grit sandpaper. If you gently buff your wiper blades, the sandpaper will reveal a softer layer of rubber.

21. Use creative storage space

Back of car seat organized
Brittany Vasseur / YouTube

If you’re not careful, car clutter can go from zero to code red very quickly, especially if you have kids.

The solution is to have a home for everything. Cars don’t come with much organizational space, but you can install your own.

Two easy, cost-effective solutions to organize your space are shower caddies and shoe organizers. Shower caddies usually have suction cups, so you can attach them to the back windows for easy access to toys and crayons — plastic might be a better option here, as metal can heat under the sun.

Shoe containers are typically soft, collapsible and usually have different compartments so you can keep a variety of things within reach, but out of sight.

Hang them on the back of your seats, and say goodbye to clutter forever. If you’re feeling extra inspired, you can even label each pocket with stickers.

22. Hide your change in an old container

Change in a car cupholder
NYPD24Pct / Twitter

If you regularly need change for parking or to pay tolls during your commute, plan a few steps ahead. There’s nothing more stressful than holding up traffic at a toll booth or parking lot as you tear your car apart hunting for coins, but there’s no need for panic if you come prepared.

To avoid it, grab an old container from your house — preferably one that fits in a cup holder — and use it as your car’s piggy bank.

Old gum containers work great because they look natural in a car, but any old food jar with a cap will do the trick.

If you want to get an A+ for organization, many online retailers sell coin “storage organizers” for your car that have separate compartments for each type of coin. You may just become your toll booth operator’s favorite driver by being ready, willing and able to breeze through.

23. Use vinegar for more than your fries

homemade vinegar cleaner on metal sink.
Mari Nelson / ShutterStock

Not only is winter frustrating to deal with as a driver, but it also has the potential to be dangerous, with black ice, drifting snow and — possibly the most dangerous of them all — low visibility.

For your windshield, that old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true.

If you check the forecast and see that colder conditions are on their way, load up a spray bottle with three parts vinegar to one part water and spray your windshield with the resulting concoction. Glass repair and replacement service Only 1 Auto Glass says the acidity will prevent ice from forming overnight.

Many households keep vinegar as part of their kitchen or cleaning supplies, but if you don’t have any in the house, you can find it on most grocery store shelves for under five dollars.

With this cheap and effective solution, there will be no need for that ice-scraper workout anymore.

24. Always keep snacks handy

Couple is sitting in car. Guy is driving and eating candy bar. Girl is looking straight and biting a piece of bar as well. They are safety locked with seatbelt
Estrada Anton / Shutterstock

When you get hungry on the road, you’re more likely to eat unhealthy food. The Taco Bell drive-thru is just too convenient.

To avoid wrecking your healthy food resolutions, keep a basket full of healthy snacks and water at arm’s reach.

Stock it with food that won’t go bad in extreme temperatures like sunflower seeds, nuts, and dried fruit — the National Safety Council actually advises everyone to carry these high-energy foods as part of their emergency car kit. Even if you’re not in a life-or-death emergency, noshing on snacks can help you regulate your blood sugar and your emotions if you’re stuck in traffic, and that’s never a bad thing.

Beyond the snacks and drinking water, make sure you also carry a first aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, a complete cell phone charger, a compass, duct tape and a rain jacket.

The National Safety Council advises that you check the expiry dates on your emergency kit every six months, replacing the items as needed.

25. Make a DIY trash can

Bag for trash on car seat
EasyToSew / YouTube

An ATM receipt here, a cheeseburger wrapper there — this is how your car gets out of hand.

The solution is a non-spillable trash can. Plastic cereal containers work like a charm and often have the added benefit of a security-locked lid. If you line one with a small trash bag, disposing of the garbage in your car becomes even easier.

You could also stick a Command hook to your dash and hang a grocery bag from it.

If you can’t be bothered to make your own garbage container, you can get a headrest trash can on Amazon that will run you less than 10 bucks.

Numerous psychological studies, including one from Indiana University cited in News Medical, suggest that repetitive actions, such as cleaning, can have a calming effect on your cognition. And as the driver of a car, you employ your cognitive abilities every time you so much as back out of your driveway.

26. Keep your cup holders clean

Cupcake holder in car
dirkriptide / Reddit

Cup holders tend to get disgusting with spilled drinks and crumbs. They’re also a pain to clean.

One way to solve the cup holder conundrum is to line them with a silicone cupcake holder. Whenever they get grimy, just throw them in the dishwasher. They even come in packs of 24, so you have enough for all your vehicle needs and still have some left over for baking.

Home improvement site The Spruce says that silicone works so well as a dirt repellent because it doesn’t absorb any oil or grease.

If you regularly drive with more than a few passengers, you can also extend your cup holders by outfitting your car with a muffin pan. If the aluminum pan isn’t steady enough by itself, Buzzfeed suggests trying to store it in a small laundry basket on the floor of your vehicle.

If you are buying these supplies online, you can use an app or browser extension that will automatically search for coupons and cheaper prices.

27. Cling to your windows

Worker tinting car window in shop
Africa Studio / ShutterStock

Most drivers understand the sheer torture of driving along, minding your business, and then turning a corner only to have the sun beam directly into your eyes. The visor doesn’t seem to help, sunglasses can only do so much and you can’t just change your destination.

All hope is not lost. Bob Vila notes that using tinted window film can save the day. Simply take the roll of cling film and measure it to fit the windows you need shaded. Then apply it, and enjoy the same visibility while not needing to worry about any sunny sneak attacks.

Whether you use non-adhesive — aka static-cling — film or the good ole sticky stuff is up to you; both options have pros and cons, according to several window film businesses. Static-cling film is cheaper and can be re-applied in different places, while adhesive is longer-lasting but can’t be easily adjusted.

Window film seller Climate Pro says that some film can even block harmful UV rays, so you could save on sunscreen, too.

28. Smell fresh with essential oils

Clothespin air freshener for car
The Heathered Nest / YouTube

Remember that essential oil from the DIY carpet cleaner?

You should have plenty left over to use as a DIY air freshener.

Simply put a few drops on a clothespin, then stick it in your car vents.

Clothespins are typically made out of hardwood, like ash, which is lower in the tannins that can stain your clothes, according to clothespin manufacturer Heritage Clothespins.

Ash is also a porous wood, which means that your clothespin will absorb the oil, then the heat from your car’s vents will release it. Keep the bottle of essential oil in your car, and whenever the smell fades, add a few more drops.

Potentially the best part is that wood, being a natural resource, is biodegradable and compostable, so you can just throw it in your composter when it has reached the end of its lifespan.

29. Clean your filter

Clean and dirty cabin air filter for car
wellphoto / Shutterstock

Sometimes no matter how much air freshener (or essential oil) you use, your car still smells funky.

When that happens, it’s time to check the cabin air filter. A quick Google search should tell you if your vehicle model has a removable cabin air filter, and how to change it.

Dirty air is constantly moving through these filters. And over time, they can start to stink.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) notes that most manufacturers recommend changing air filters every 15,000 to 30,000 miles, although that can vary if you consistently drive through areas with high amounts of air pollutants.

If your car windows are taking longer than normal to de-fog, or you notice airflow being restricted through your car’s HVAC system, those might be symptoms of an overwhelmed cabin filter.

Beyond the fact that changing your filters will improve your car’s air quality, there is also the fact that, according to AAA, fresh cabin filters are a safety measure.

It is estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from allergies, and if the particulates that irritate allergies have been cleaned from the air, there is less chance of a runny nose or a sneeze attack causing a serious accident.

30. Treat your windshield wipers

Cleaning a windshield wiper with microfiber cloth
admin_design / ShutterStock

If you ask around, auto mechanics like Sewell Lincoln out of Texas will say that windshield wiper maintenance is often one of the most neglected parts of car ownership.

Not only do you want your wipers to work well if you get caught driving in a rainstorm, but they can also age quickly if not taken care of.

Disintegrating windshield wipers may be caused by dried out rubber, and they can “shriek”, jump and, most importantly, not keep your windshield clean enough to see through.

But, as long as your wipers aren’t too far gone, this tip from Silver Cymbals on YouTube will save you some cash.

Grab an old sock and spray it with WD-40. Use the sock to clean the wiper blade, and the blade will both give up its grease and become lubricated like new. Make sure your windshield is also clean so your handiwork isn’t immediately undone, and you’ve just added a lot more life to your wipers.

31. Get a pet seat hammock

Border Collie puppy sitting looking over the seat waiting close up
Aarontphotography / Shutterstock

In the past, you had to choose — travel with pets, or have a clean car.

Now, with the new pet seat hammock, you can have both. It easily attaches to the headrests of the front and back seats, creating a waterproof “hammock” where your furry friend can roll around without destroying your car.

Instead of cleaning your backseat every time you take Buddy for a ride, you can simply toss the hammock in the washing machine.

Because the “hammock” is more of a “fastenable fitted sheet,” it is appropriate for dogs of all sizes, and certain models have holes sewn into them so that your ride-or-die can be harnessed in for added safety.

It’s a good thing, too, because, as Pew Charitable Trusts says, many states have prohibitions around driving with unrestrained dogs, as that falls under the category of distracted driving. Three states in particular — Nevada, New Jersey and Washington — have strong animal cruelty laws that could find you responsible for driving with an unrestrained pet.

32. Dust your dash with a coffee filter

The interior dashboard of a car is building up dust, dirt, and debris.
TippyTortue / Shutterstock

A microfiber cloth is an essential piece of your car-washing toolkit. But not for washing your dashboard and center console. They are notorious for leaving tiny pieces of lint everywhere.

When it comes time to dust, use a coffee filter instead. The material picks up dust without leaving a lint mess.

Depending on which brand you use, many coffee filters are typically biodegradable, so they can be used a few times and then discarded guilt-free. For an extra kick of clean, Bob Vila recommends putting a drop of olive oil on the coffee filter to watch the dirt disappear.

According to car sales company Thompson Sales, the olive oil reduces static, so that dust takes longer to build up again. You can always multi-task and get a portable coffee maker for your car, so you can clean and caffeinate at the same time.

Just make sure that you’re parked.

33. Clean out crevices with a screwdriver

Screwdriver
Wirecutter / Twitter

Grime has a way of building up in all the nooks and crannies at the edges of panels in your center console.

You could grow out your fingernails to scrape off the crud, but there’s a better way. Pick up a flathead screwdriver, cover it with a cloth to prevent scratches, and scrape away.

With the added insurance of a cloth cover, the screwdriver will be able to help you de-gunk the craggiest of crannies, without worrying that you will be doing unintentional damage.

Depending on how long it’s been since you last cleaned your panels, you may also want to have a portable vacuum cleaner standing by so that you can quickly remove any escaping grit.

You may not think that keeping your car’s interior clean is super important, but a clean interior can seriously protect your car’s resale value, according to Sunrise Industrial Cleaners. It also improves your overall driving experience and keeps health conditions in check.

34. Remove pet hair with a squeegee and spray bottle

Cleansing car interior and spraying with disinfection liquid. Hands in rubber protective glove disinfecting vihicle inside for protection from virus disease
Space_Cat / Shutterstock

Putting down a blanket to protect your car seats from pet hair only gets you so far.

If your pet travels with you regularly, it’s only a matter of time before those seats get coated in hair.

And pet hair is stubborn. While pet hair itself isn’t an allergen, it usually brings along pet dander, which are dead skin cells that are sloughed off.

The American Lung Association says that pet dander can linger in the air and on surfaces for longer than other allergens because they are jagged in shape, which makes them like microscopic pieces of velcro.

Because of this, pet dander can stay in the air for up to six months after a pet’s last ride, according to Portland Urgent Care.

If you're doing a thorough clean before you sell your car, you'll want to ensure it's spick and span and totally hair-free.

If the vacuum cleaner doesn’t do the trick, try spraying your seat with water, then using a squeegee to collect all the hair. The water dampens the hair so it lumps together, making it easy to gather.

35. Wrap your rearview mirror in a plastic bag

wrap car mirror in plastic bag
nextmoonyt / YouTube

Ziploc bags aren’t just for food storage — they’re super useful for keeping your car mirrors clean in winter.

There’s nothing worse than getting ready for work on an icy January morning only to discover your rearview mirror’s been encrusted with ice and snow overnight.

To prevent the extra cleaning work, especially when you just don’t have time, wrap your mirrors in a Ziploc bag or even a regular plastic bag.

Why would you stay out in the freezing cold any longer than you had to, if the solution was as simple as remembering to bag your mirrors the night before a snowstorm?

That way, when you need to use your car, all you need to do is remove the Ziploc bags from your mirrors and you are that much closer to being on the open, if snowy, road.

The covering helps keep most of the snow from sticking, and it’s a great hack for when you can’t park your car in a garage.

With files from Mitchell Glass.

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About the Author

Bronwyn Petry

Bronwyn Petry

Email Specialist

Bronwyn is a staff writer for Moneywise, working mostly in performance marketing. Before starting here, they freelanced for several years, focusing on B2B content and technical copy. Pre-pandemic, you could find them planning their next trip, but lately, if they're not at work, you can find them hanging out with their cat and dog.

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