15 DIY Car Wash Tricks and Tips

Cut through that built up grime and dirt and get your car sparkling with these easy do-it-yourself car wash solutions.

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Car wash tricks
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How to Use Cooking Spray as a Car Cleaner

You know that fine black stuff that collects on the wheels of your car and is so hard to clean off? That’s brake dust—it’s produced every time you apply your brakes and the pads wear against the brake disks or cylinders. The next time you invest the elbow grease to get your wheels shiny, give them a light coating of cooking spray. The brake dust will wipe right off.

Don’t miss these seven reasons you should never go to another car wash.

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Homemade car wash: Use mayonnaise
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Mayonnaise as Homemade Car Wash? Believe it!

To get road tar or pine sap off your car with ease, slather some mayonnaise over the affected area, let it sit for several minutes, and wipe it away with a clean, soft rag. Ta-da!

Don’t miss these other genius mayonnaise hacks!

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Bottle your own homemade car wash
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Bottle Your Own Homemade Car Wash

Be sure to include a recycled spray bottle filled with windshield cleaner in the trunk of your car as part of your roadside emergency kit. Use it to clean off your car’s headlights, mirrors, and of course, windows whenever needed. During winter months, mix in 1/2-teaspoon antifreeze, and you can spray it on to melt the ice on your windshield or mirrors.

Here are eight more things you should pack in your roadside emergency kit.

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Baby wipes
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Put Those Baby Wipes to Use

Want more do it yourself car wash tricks? Clean your windshield and car windows by rubbing them with baby wipes stored in your glove compartment. What could be easier?

Here are five more things you should always keep in your glove box.

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Coca cola
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Clean Dirty Windshields with Cola

When it rains after a long dry spell, a dirty windshield turns into one big mess. Get rid of streaks and blotches by pouring cola over the glass. (Stretch a towel along the bottom of the windshield to protect hood paint.) The bubbles in the cola will fizz away the grime. Just be sure to wash the sticky cola off thoroughly or your cleaning efforts will end up attracting dust and dirt.

Struggling with streaky wiper blades? Here are step-by-step instructions that making changing wiper blades a DIY job.

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Car wash tricks: Cooking spray
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More Ways to Put Cooking Spray to Work When Washing Your Car

When those bugs smash into your car at 80 kilometres per hour, they really stick. Give your grille a spritz of nonstick cooking spray so you can just wipe away the insect debris.

This is how often you should really clean the inside of your car (hint: it’s more than you think)!

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Man washing his car
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Try Hair Conditioner for Shine

Want that fresh-off-the-car-lot shine, but don’t have any polish handy? Wipe-down your chrome with a hair conditioner containing lanolin, then rub it off with a soft cloth. You’ll become a believer when you see gleaming results. (Psst—this car wash trick also works great on golf clubs, faucets, or anything else that needs a shine.)

Want to turn back the clock for your wheels? These seven car cleaning accessories can help restore your ride.

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Man wiping his car windshield
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Wash Your Windows with Ammonia

Add 60 mL of household ammonia to 1 litre of water, pour it into a plastic bottle with a watertight cap and keep it in your trunk for washing the windscreen and windows. As soon as your windscreen begins to get dirty, take out the solution and apply it with a sponge; then dry the windscreen with a soft cloth or paper towels.

Don’t miss these 20 brilliant ways to put ammonia to work all around the house.

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Windshield wipers
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Clean Your Windshield Wiper Blades

When your windshield actually gets blurrier after you turn on your wipers during a rainstorm, it usually means that your wiper blades are dirty. To make them as good as new, damped a cloth or rag with some full-strength white vinegar and run it down the full length of each blade once or twice.

Do your windshield wipers leave unwiped spots for no apparent reason, even after you replaced the blades? Here’s how to replace the wiper arm and fix this problem.

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Homemade car wash tricks for bumper stickers: Vinegar
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Car Wash Tricks to Remove Bumper Stickers

If those tattered old bumper stickers on your car make you feel more nauseated than nostalgic, it’s time to break out the vinegar again. Saturate the top and sides of the sticker with undiluted distilled vinegar and wait 10 to 15 minutes for the vinegar to soak through. Then, use an expired credit card (or one of those promotional plastic cards that come in the mail) to scrape it off. Use more full-strength vinegar to get rid of any remaining gluey residue. Use the same technique to detach those cute decals your youngster used to decorate the back windshield.

If that doesn’t work, here are three more ways to remove a stubborn bumper sticker.

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Car wash tricks using WD-40
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Car Wash Tricks to Clean and Restore Your Licence Plate

To help restore a licence plate that’s beginning to rust, spray it with WD-40 and wipe with a clean rag. This will remove light surface rust and will also prevent more from forming. It’s an easy way to clean up lightly rusted plates and it won’t leave a greasy feel.

Worried about your plate getting stolen? Check out this genius way to prevent licence plate theft.

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Homemade car wash tricks to get rid of paint rub
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Car Wash Tricks to Remove “Paint Rub” Stains

Don’t put away that WD-40 just yet! Let’s say you return to your parked car to find that while you were gone, another vehicle got a bit too close for comfort. Luckily, there’s no dent—but now your car has a blotch of “paint rub” from the other car on it. To remove paint-rub stains on your car and restore its original finish, spray the affected area with WD-40, wait a few seconds, and wipe with a clean rag.

Check out more genius ways to put WD-40 to work around the house.

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Homemade car wash hack using cola
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Got Rust Spots on Your Chrome? Try This Homemade Car Wash Trick

Are you babying an older car—you know, of those babies that has real chrome on the outside? If the chrome is developing small rust spots, you can remove them by rubbing the area with a crumpled piece of aluminum foil dipped in cola.

Check out these other household hacks for aluminum foil!

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Homemade car wash tricks: Old socks
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No Car Wash Mitt? No Problem!

Worn a hole in one of your favourite soft socks? Here’s a great way to put the survivor to good use: it makes the perfect hand mitt for buffing the wax on your car. Here are five more new uses for old socks.

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Homemade car wash tricks for headlights
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Homemade Car Wash Tricks for Headlights

Keep your headlights polished (and yourself, safe) by applying window cleaner and rubbing vigorously with an old pair of panty hose.

Here are more tips on how to clean cloudy headlights.

Originally Published in Baking Soda, Banana Peels, Baby Oil, and Beyond

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