It’s been brought to my attention that I am known for having and keeping a clean car. I’ve done that since I got my very first car – which wasn’t much of a car (1981 Pontiac Phoenix! Yeah man!), but it was clean. Even when that awful car suffered complete internal organ failure, and I was given a whopping $150 in trade-in credit, the dealer noted “At least it’s clean and the interior is in really good shape. I can use those seats at least”.
Not too long ago, a friend asked, “How do you manage that? How do you keep your car so clean? I just don’t see how it’s possible.” The answer is in the question itself: It’s clean because I keep it clean. And honestly, I don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t do the same thing.
My car is the most expensive single thing I own. For homeowners, it’s probably the second most expensive thing. I spend a lot of time in my car, hours and hours every week. I breathe the air there. I sit on the upholstery. I put my hands on the steering wheel. I touch the dash, the seats, the sides of the doors. To me, it’s like another room of my house.
These same people who are amazed at my clean car have perfectly clean houses and apartments. They know how to clean. They vacuum, wash dishes, wipe countertops, and mop floors. They have bottles of Windex and Pledge, they own scrub brushes and sponges, they use paper towels regularly. They quite clearly know how to keep things clean, and how to clean them.
Some months ago, I rode in someone’s car that had an odd… smell. After a while, I gently asked about the smell. “Oh, my daughter spilled orange juice in the back a few months ago. It got all over the seat and carpet.” The End.
This exact same person, if the exact same daughter had spilled that exact same glass of orange juice in their living room? On a couch, and it had gotten into the living room rug? They would have immediately soaked the coach cushions, cleaned the rug with shampoo, and scrubbed out the orange juice stains. Can you imagine walking into someone’s house, seeing a giant, congealed glob of rotten orange juice on the carpet and couch, and having them say, “Oh, yeah, one of the kids did that a few months ago.”
Yet, when the same thing happens in a car, they just throw up their hands and say “Oh, well, it’s the car.” No. Don’t do this. It’s the same thing as your living room.
And then there’s trash in the car. Would you leave empty bottles, cups, used Kleenex, hamburger wrappers, etc on your living room floor? Or on your kitchen counters? Or in your bathroom? For months at a time? But I see this in cars all the time. “Yeah, I need to clean that stuff up someday”.
No. No, you don’t clean it up “some day”. You clean it up that same day. Always. If I eat something in the car, then wrappers, cups, you name it, everything gets taken out and thrown away at the next stop. The very next time I get out of the car. I never, ever carry trash of any kind around in my car. No more than I would just let trash pile up on my kitchen counter or on my dining room floor. There are even legal and insurance claims that have been turned down for garbage not allowing the driver to to use a pedal or starp on the seat belt, to learn more, read this article about the importance of seat belt compliance in a personal injury claim.
If something spills on the car rug? I bring down the vacuum, clean it out, and use rug cleaner on it. The exact same thing that I would do if something spilt on the rug in my house.
Every few weeks, I vacuum out my car. Just like I do my house.
I wipe off the dash, the door insides, the steering wheel, and every surface. Just like I do with my kitchen counters, my living room furniture, and my bathrooms. To me, there is no difference.
Every few months, I do an intense interior cleaning on my car, using Armor All, leather cleaner, and polish. Just like I do when, every few months, I do an intense cleaning of my floors, using wax and cleaner. Just like I do, every few months, to my furniture with deep wax and polish. To me, there is no difference.
And every month or two, I take the car to a car wash, and have the exterior washed and cleaned. I pay about $20 for this. I do this because I live in an apartment, and I don’t have access to a hose and the like.
That’s pretty much it. Keeping a clean car, to me, is a simple matter of maintenance and basic hygiene.
Now. To you parents out there.
I see you’re always careful to keep certain areas of your house extra clean, so that germs don’t spread and so your kids stay as sniffle-free and healthy as possible. But for some reason, you think your car possesses some magical power to resist germs without cleaning. I see you wiping off bathroom surfaces and kitchen areas meticulously – but the inside of your car hasn’t been touched since you bought it. Where do you think all those germs are coming from?
A clean car is a happy car, and it makes you feel good to be in one. So if your car is a bit of a mess… turn it around. Go clean out all the trash. Vacuum the carpet. Get some good old Woolite rug cleaner and get those stains out. Windex off the inside and clean those door handles. Clean the insides of the windows. Clean off old stickers and gunky areas with Goof Off. Shine up the dash with some Armor All. You will feel so much better driving, and everyone who gets into your car will feel better too.
From then on, remember: Whatever goes in the car, goes out of the car. Every time, every day. If you wouldn’t put up with it in your house, then don’t put up with it in your car.
And then you can be Happy Happy Happy like me. Well, at least in your car. Have an A1 Day!