It’s springtime! So throw open those windows, break out your vacuum, and get ready to shake off the winter doldrums. From dusting to disinfecting to decluttering, spring’s always been the season most closely associated with cleaning. And there’s good reason: winter keeps many of us shut indoors and the build-up of dust, dirt, and debris is real. But a thorough spring cleaning isn’t only good for your home – it’s also great for your vehicle (both for its longevity and for its resale value). Here are some surprisingly painless tips for spring cleaning your car.

1. Wash the exterior

Winter does a number on cars, especially if you live in a climate where it snows. Road salt is especially corrosive to a car’s exterior and needs to be washed off to prevent damage to the exhaust, muffler, and car frame.

Whether you hand wash your car or go to an automated car wash, take extra care to hose off the undercarriage of the car. And don’t forget about the tires (including the wheel wells and hubcaps), fenders, and bumpers.

2. Test your tires

Winter can also be hard on tires. So it’s good to get into the habit of checking them for wear come spring, including the condition of your spare. You should also be sure your tire pressure is at manufacturer-recommended levels. If you’re not certain how to check your pressure or your tire wear, head to a local mechanic and have them give your tires a quick check-up. 

3. Get rid of trash

Before you can adequately clean the interior of your car, you’ll need to be able to see the surfaces you’re cleaning. Grab a large trash bag and get to work, throwing away or recycling any debris you might find (think food wrappers, used coffee cups, and empty water bottles). Take the time to go through your trunk or any other compartments and give away or purge any non-essential items you find there.

4. Vacuum the interior

Now that you’ve decluttered the interior, it’s time to break out the cleaning products. Start by vacuuming all surfaces, including the floors, floor mats, and upholstery, as well as the dashboard and cup holders.

5. Wash your floor mats

From spills to mud, salt, and grime, floor mats that’ve gone through a long winter are probably in need of a long, thorough washing. Remove floor mats from the car and use a power washer or a hose, scrub brush, and cleanser to give your floor mats a much-needed bath. Allow mats to dry thoroughly before returning them to your car

6. Spot clean upholstery

Whether your car’s interior is cloth, leather, or vinyl, take this opportunity to give your seats a little attention. Leather or vinyl upholstery should be cleaned with special cleaning lotions (water-based solutions can lead to drying out and cracking, which you definitely don’t want). Spot-clean cloth interiors using a microfiber cloth, water, and mild soap, using a scrub brush on more stubborn stains. Rinse with clean water. Then blot with a clean cloth and allow to air dry thoroughly.

 7. Wash the consoles 

Wipe away any dust and grime on the consoles, remembering to clean the inside of all cup holders, the face of the instrument panel, miscellaneous compartments, door handles, the steering wheel and steering column, and the top of the dashboard. Microfiber cloths are also great for this. Dampen them first and then use a mild, all-purpose cleaner. Rinse often in clean water. And avoid getting electrical components wet, if possible. If you like, use a protective coating on vinyl surfaces to finish.

8. Replace your wiper blades and wiper fluid 

Spring flowers mean spring showers. And since most wiper blades need to be replaced every six months, this is the perfect opportunity to check and replace old wiper blade. And make sure you have enough wiper fluid too. 

9. Stay on top of your car maintenance

Spring’s also a great time to do a tune-up and other general car maintenance like changing your oil, testing your A/C, making sure all interior and exterior lights are functioning properly, and checking your tire pressure. 

Other easy things you can do

Hand on the steering wheel of a car with car insurance

Spring driving can be beautiful, but it’s not without it’s own set of hazards. Take care to drive extra carefully during rainy weather, watch out for migrating animals who may be wandering, and make sure your auto coverage is up to date. Need a quote? Get a free one today.

DIY hacks | For your car


about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.