Does your car have the winter blues? We get it  we’re feeling it too. But the truth is your car needs as much TLC as you do during the winter months.

Check out these 6 ideas for keeping your car clean (and safe!) until spring finally arrives.

1. Baby the exterior

Sleet, snow, and salt … oh my! Sure, your car is built to bear the brunt of winter weather and the dirty conditions that come with it. But the chemicals that melt snow and ice don’t just make your car grimy — they can also cause rust and corrosion if you’re not careful.

That’s why your car needs a frequent bath in the winter, especially around the undercarriage where salt can collect. Consider proactively protecting your car from salt build-up by waxing it before the next storms hit. Then drive defensively to avoid big puddles that’ll splash grime on your car.

Remember to dry it thoroughly, too, including the doors and windows, so water won’t be trapped.

2. Cover the carpet

Melting snow can wreak havoc on the floors in your home and it can do the same in your car. It’s not too late to consider covering up your car’s carpet with rubber floor mats to help prevent slushy messes as well as saltwater stains.

If you do end up with a stain, treat it by spraying on a 50/50 solution of distilled white vinegar and water and scrubbing it vigorously.

3. Clean sap out of the seats

Winter is prime sap time and the sticky goo left behind can be unpleasant on your seats. The good news is it’s relatively easy to combat: if you have leather seats, a squirt of spray lubricant can do the trick  just be sure to wipe off the remaining solution with a damp rag or wipe. On fabric upholstery, rubbing alcohol (or even hand sanitizer) can remove the mess.

4. Keep your headlights sparkly

Sure, things looks better when they sparkle, but this is more for your safety. On dark winter nights, you want to ensure your headlights have as much power as possible to illuminate the road. Make it a point to wipe them down with a soft cloth and then apply some car wax  coating the surface means that ice is less likely to build up.

5. Let the sunshine in

Everything benefits from a little fresh air, and your car is no exception. While it’s parked inside somewhere safe like your garage, roll down the windows and let it air out. Then keep it smelling springtime fresh by adding a lightly scented air freshener or even a dryer sheet under the seats to stave off soggy odors.

6. Keep an emergency kit in your car

Now this is more about your safety than the car’s, but we can’t stress enough the importance of making sure you have the right equipment in your car in case you’re stranded in the winter. Shovel, flashlight, a blanket: you know the drill. Stay safe!

Safe and smart

about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.