4-wheel drive car completely covered in mud

We think we got to all the nooks and crannies of home, maybe even yard and garden…if we are overachievers we even cleared out desk drawers at work (how many dang salt packets, sporks, and sets of chopsticks do we really need?)…but here’s one many of us overlook…the ride.

Does your car need some Spring Cleaning lovin’? More than just a run through the car wash, but digging down to get the sticky pennies from between the seats, dumping the receipts and mint wrappers, and doing a deep dive into your drive.


  • If you have winter tires you use in your region, swap them back to the all-season ones now. You don’t want to drive on winter tires longer than necessary.
  • Check your tire tread and top off pressure as needed. You save money on mileage and improve longevity with four properly inflated tires.
  • Replace windshield wiper blades—don’t wait until they start to shred. The salt of the season, if you’ve been in icy conditions, will have been murder on the rubber blades. Any deterioration equals streaks and stripes across your field of vision when you need the wipers for rain and dew. Top off the wiper fluid while you’re at it.
  • Oil the hinges of the car’s doors, trunk/hatch, and hood to prevent unnecessary friction and wear.

Now, the fun begins...

Step One: Trash Patrol.

Do this step earnestly and you may fill up an entire bag. Even if you’re not type to crumble the food wrapper and toss beverage cans into the back seat zone, there are probably more little things between the cracks and under the seats than you imagined. Be sure to get into the trunk/hatch as well, and the glove compartment, too.

Step Two: Suck it Up.

Using your home vacuum or a self-serve car wash that has the super hose to vacuum deeply, really spend the time (and quarters) to get complete satisfaction. While you’re capturing all the winter’s dried mud and detritus, use a screwdriver or other firm object to loosen what doesn’t come up easily, especially from creases and corners. A can of compressed air usually used for computers can blast crumbs and dust from tiny crevices. Don't forget to vacuum the trunk or back area.

Step Three: Soft Surfaces.

You needn’t bear the expense of a meticulous car detailing service if you do your own. There are great automotive upholstery/carpet cleaners that will tackle deep soil as well as refresh overall--read the label so you're aware of and not frightened by ingredients. A scrub brush is your friend to really work the product in. Like your hair shampoo bottle says (but few of us ever do) lather, rinse/wipe, repeat. Doing this step twice is what elevates it from a spot clean to a deep clean. If you’ve got leather or vinyl seats and trim, use the correct surface cleaners and conditioners to keep them clean and soft.

Step Four: Floor Mats.

Power wash these guys. Whether the cold season has left you with basic mud and dirt, or salt and snowmelt chemicals, they definitely need a good cleaning. If your mats are all rubber, you’re in luck—hose those bad boys down, use your scrub brush again, let dry before replacing, and you’re good to go. Carpeted mats are less user-friendly, but again, pull them, deep soak and scrub them, and let them air dry completely before putting them back, even if it means driving without for a day—better that than mildew!

Step Five: Junk in Your Trunk.

If you’ve carried kitty litter or sand for getting you out of icy hazards, you can retire that for the season along with ice scrapers, extra gloves, etc. Toss an extra umbrella in back to replace all that snow gear, and maybe an extra drop cloth or tarp for transporting spring plants home from the nursery—you know you’re going to be on flower detail soon.

Step Six: Door Jambs.

Get the grunge out of the doorjambs and running boards. A toothbrush and diluted cleaning solution can be your friend here, then wipe down with a cloth so they don’t stay wet. Some mineral oil or silicone spray rubbed on the rubber gaskets of doors and windows will keep them soft and prevent cracking.

Step Seven: Interior Windows.

It is confounding how much dust sticks to window insides, and the winter’s moisture/defrost/fog up cycles make glass even more of a dirt magnet. Use vinegar & water or a specialized car window cleaner—regular household ammonia products are not your friend here. For extra measure, an anti-fogging product can keep them even clearer on early mornings.

Step Eight: Bath Time.

A good, thorough car wash is what the doctor ordered. If you do it yourself, be sure to get wheels and rims, too. If you have it done professionally, splurge on the thorough version even if you don’t do a full wax. A professional car wash will get salt off your undercarriage better than you might be able to with your garden hose and better than the kids doing a fundraiser in the high school parking lot. You can support them with your next wash.

Step Nine: Fresh as a Daisy.

You don’t need to dangle a pine tree from your radio knob, but an air freshener or evaporative fabric cleaner/air spray will freshen things up. Sure, you’ll have the windows rolled down every chance you get, but keep the air fresh when they are closed tight, as well.

*Be sure to keep on top of your oil change schedule and have your air conditioner checked and serviced if necessary. The snow has just melted but we’ll be complaining about the dog days of summer any day, now.

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF.org) and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (mentorartists.org). Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at www.ChangeByDoing.com. As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing


James Flores (not verified)

At regular interval we need

At regular interval we need to take very good care of our cars; it needs regular maintenance and repair. Apart from that we need to follow different steps and instructions to deal with weather problems. Especially in summer we used to take very good care of our car tire, in winter we need to take very good care of our engine and especially in spring our car needs lots of attention. Therefore we should follow the steps provided in this article about how to take very good care of our car especially in spring; instead of professional we should first take some precaution by following these tips.

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