Your car is messy and you need to get rid of the dirt, stains and, dried-on mystery gunk that make it stink and cause you a whole lot of discomfort.
You don’t want to use a car vacuum because it comes with a cost. Or you might be frugal and want to save on energy bills or those recurring expenses of purchasing dustbin bags. Maybe you simply don’t have access to the vac.
Don’t worry! Let’s see how you can clean your car (interior and exterior) without a Vacuum cleaner.
How Can I Vacuum (Clean) My Car Without A Vacuum?
Most times, Vacuuming is needed for car seats and floors. We’ll look at each aspect of the car cleaning process (without touching a vacuum).
1- Clean Your Car Seats
Seats are the most important part of a car interior that need most of the vacuuming, apart from the floor. You need to clean them often whether they are made of cloth or leather.
If you have cloth car seats, you need a few things depending on the method of cleaning you want.
The “No-Vaccum” solution for Tiny crevices
Toothpick / Pair of tweezers
STEP 1- Softly clean the debris and stuff that is stuck in the crevices using a toothpick or a pair of tweezers. Small strokes pulling the debris out will do the trick.
For CLOTH Car Seats
1- Club soda
STEP 1- Spray club soda on the stain.
STEP 2- Scrub the stain with a brush.
STEP 3- Wipe away the stain with a clean towel.
1- Baking soda
2- Warm water
STEP 1- Put one-quarter of a cup of baking soda and a cup of warm water in a bucket.
STEP 2- Mix them together.
STEP 3- Dip a toothbrush into the solution.
STEP 4- Scrub the stain with a toothbrush.
STEP 5- If it’s a difficult stain, allow the solution to sit on it for about 30 minutes before scrubbing it.
STEP 6- Wipe off the stain with a clean towel.
2- Dish soap
3- Hot water
6- Two towels
7- Clean water
STEP 1- Put a cup of vinegar, a little drop of dish soap, and a gallon of hot water in a bucket.
STEP 2- Mix them together.
STEP 3- Dab the mixture on the stain using a towel.
STEP 4- Scrub the stain with a brush.
STEP 5- Rinse off the seat.
STEP 6- Wipe it with a towel.
1- Laundry detergent or upholstery detergent/cleaner
3- Hot water
4- Cold water
5- Two towels
STEP 1- Put laundry/upholstery detergent and hot water in a bucket.
STEP 2- Mix them together.
STEP 3- Dap the solution on the stain with a towel.
STEP 4- Scrub off the seat.
STEP 5- Rinse the seat with cold water.
STEP 6- Wipe it off with a clean towel.
Don’t do spot cleaning on cloth seats. It’ll cause light and dark spots on the seat. This is because only some spots on the seat have been cleaned.
For LEATHER Car Seats
1- Microfiber towel
3- Dry towel
STEP 1- Fold the microfiber towel into four.
STEP 2- Spray your cleaner on the towel. Use a dedicated vinyl cleaner or an all-purpose non-caustic and plant-based cleaner, which is better in the long run.
STEP 3- Wipe the seat, one section at a time.
STEP 4- Mop up the remaining moisture with a dry towel.
An alternate method would be to use shaving foam to clean car seats. Simply use the foam to spread on the seats and rub it. After 1-2 minutes, use your hands to remove the foam and then a microfiber cloth to remove the excess and dry.
2- Clean Those Mats & Carpets
Floor mats and carpets need most of the vacuuming. Let’s see how to clean them without using a vac.
Pick up large items such as food waste, bottle caps, rocks, etc from the floor. Simply use your hands to reach under the seats and nooks to pick up whatever you can.
1- Begin by removing the floor mats and shaking them well to get the dry dirt out.
2- Now place the mats on a clean drop cloth or plastic (not on bare ground).
If you have rubber mats, then wash away the dirt using a hose. Use a scrub brush to apply a solution of warm soapy water (using dish soap). Rinse with clean water and let the mats air dry.
1- Packaging tape (Heavy duty)
This is a great method if you have pets and often travel with them in your car. You surely would have pet hair all over the floor.
Also, this method is useful for spot cleaning most of the time as large areas or bigger truck floors wouldn’t be the most ideal situation for applying this method.
STEP 1- Stick the tape to the car floor and apply some pressure over it. The glue will help to pick up the hair, dust, and debris as they would stick to the tape.
1- Soft Brush
STEP 1- Use a soft-bristled brush (with natural bristles) to loosen and sweep the debris and dust off your car floor toward the open door. Use only straight strokes (small ones).
For stains on the carpets
1) Oil, grease, coffee, and wine stains: Apply some liquid detergent to a toothbrush and use it to scrub away (in circular motions) the stains. Then apply a damp sponge to clean away the soap. You may have to squeeze out soapy water from the sponge a few times.
2) Food stains: Apply a little Rubbing alcohol to the floor to get these stains out.
3- Clean Your Steering Wheel & Dashboard
More often than not, you would just like to do a deep clean of your car’s interior. If that is the case, then you need to start from top to bottom to prevent dirt from falling back on the floor.
1- Dry toothbrush or canned air
2- Microfiber cloth
4- Dish soap
5- Weiman’s leather wipes
6- Armor All’s protectant wipes
STEP 1- Use a dry toothbrush or canned air to remove dry dirt and debris from the small seams and crevices.
STEP 2- Use a damp microfiber cloth for additional dirt and germs.
STEP 3- Use a microfiber cloth and a solution of two cups of water and a few drops of dish soap to wipe down a synthetic steering wheel if you have one. The solution doesn’t need to form up.
STEP 4- Treat your dashboard and steering wheel to prevent cracks and wear. Use Weiman’s leather wipes for leather and Armor All’s protectant wipes for interior plastic, vinyl, and rubber to prevent fading and discoloration.
Method 2: Using Water/Woolite Mixture (Cheaper)
2- Spray bottle
4- Plastic brush
5- Cloth towel
STEP 1- Put Woolite in a spray bottle and mix it with water in a ratio of 1:6.
STEP 2- Spray the mixture on the vinyl dash and steering wheel. You may also use this mixture on the leather seats.
STEP 3- Gently scrub with a small plastic brush.
STEP 4- Dry with a cloth towel.
This is a time-tested trick that works great on all fabrics, carpets, vinyl, and leather and will leave the leather very soft afterward.
4- Clean Your Car Windows
3- White distilled vinegar
4- Spray bottle
STEP 1- Get a spray bottle.
STEP 2- Mix the water and vinegar in a ratio of 9:1 in a spray bottle.
STEP 3- Spray the mixture on the window to remove streaks or smudges.
STEP 4- Rub the newspaper on the window to loosen the dirt.
STEP 5- Wipe the windshield with a microfiber. Rub it until it is streak-free and squeaks.
This method works amazingly well for getting windows as clean as possible. It is even more frugal than using paper towels and glass cleaner.
The newspaper uses soy-based ink that helps buff oils right out. Vinegar cuts all the grease and fingerprints.
1- Magic Eraser
2- All-purpose cleaner
5- Rag or microfiber towel
A. Spray Magic Eraser with an all-purpose cleaner or a mixture of alcohol and water.
B. Gently scrub the interior glass back and forth and side to side.
C. Use a rag or microfiber towel to wipe the glass dry.
Remember to do one piece of glass at a time and split the windshield into two sides between the driver- and passenger-side to make your job easier.
A. Spray a clean towel with the glass cleaning solution and wipe the glass to remove residue from the previous cleaning round.
B. Flip the towel to a dry side and buff the glass to a streak-free finish.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 all around the vehicle.
5- Clean Your Seat Belts
1- Microfiber cloth
2- Upholstery cleaner / Detergent water
STEP 1- Use a damp microfiber cloth to clean the metal and plastic clamps.
STEP 2- To remove stains and dirt from the belt fabric, use upholstery cleaner or a solution of dish soap and water.
6- Wash Your Car Exterior
1- Car wash
2- Two microfiber sponges
3- 3 buckets (One for the soapy water, other for the wheels)
4- Clean water
5- Microfiber plush towel
6- Mitts and Brushes
STEP 1- Get a good quality car wash that has a good fragrance (like Meguiar’s Gold Class).
STEP 2- Wash the wheels first with mitts and brushes.
STEP 3-Wash the car out of direct sunlight, working small sections at a time, and rinse off all soap afterward.
STEP 4-Dry your car with a microfiber plush towel to avoid any water spots.
STEP 5- If it’s a new car, consider claying, polishing, and waxing.
This is a very simple and cost-effective way to clean your car exterior and takes just about 30 mins on the whole.
7- Clean Those Foggy Headlights
Toothpaste is abrasive in nature and can be used to clean foggy headlights.
1- Dish soap
4- Baking soda
5- Cloth (soft)
STEP 1- Apply the soapy water to the headlights.
STEP 2- Apply a very small amount of toothpaste and baking soda to the headlight using a cloth.
STEP 3- Scrub in circular motions on the wet surface.
STEP 4- Rinse with water.
Tips – Getting Rid Of Odors In Your Car
1- Don’t eat in your car.
2- Turn off your air-conditioner about a half-mile from your destination to equilibrate the temperature and avoid mold growth.
3- Use washable blankets on seats, especially if you have dogs in your car.
4- Use Airpro Wooden Bottle car air fresheners.
5- For a slight odor, spray some Febreeze in the car when you’re leaving it for several hours.
If the smell is really bad, then do the following:
STEP 1- Do a deep clean of your car.
STEP 2- Vacuum it and leave it in a safe place where you can leave the car with the windows open and the windscreen facing the sun. After an hour or two, it will be steaming hot inside.
STEP 3- If the car is a hatchback or saloon with fold-down rear seats, open the boot and leave the car for the rest of the day to dry. This job should really be done on a warm or hot day with lots of sunshine.
STEP 4- If the car has leather, faux leather, or vinyl seats, clean the seats accordingly.
STEP 5- Then clean the glass, the dashboard, and door cards too.
General Car Cleaning Tips
a) Toss the trash. Trash causes mystery odors, spills, crumbs, and stains. Car clutter like papers, bags, and gym or sports equipment can make your car stink if you don’t remove them regularly.
b) Prevent sticky situations by at least sticking silicone cupcake liners inside the cup holders in the back seat. This is because you can easily toss the cupcakes into the dishwasher if they get sticky.
c) Do a quick dusting by using a microfiber cloth or Swiffer duster to clean up smaller messes in your car before a deep clean.
d) Rood racks are also an important part of the vehicle. Aluminum roof racks can attract corrosion ruining the look of the car. These can be easily.
e) Car keys can house many germs an bacteria. Keys should be be disinfected once in a while without drenching them with the solution. Rubber key fobs can be cleaned using nail polish remover and a cotton swab.
Washing your car by hand and without a vacuum cleaner will definitely take your time but it’s better than an automatic wash. You’ll be able to clean the car inside out, remove more dirt and grime, wax and polish your vehicle, remove any extra debris and give your car a brand-new look.
Automatic car washes can also leave water spots on your car. This can be avoided if you use a microfiber cloth during a hand wash.
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