The best car cleaning products

Apart from your home, your car is likely to be one of the biggest and most expensive items you will purchase. Whether you use a car for commuting to and from work or for the school run, you will want to keep it looking clean and shiny.

For this article, we spoke to bloggers and industry professionals to find out what the best car cleaning products are to help keep your motor vehicle in great condition as well as looking and smelling clean.

De-clutter the car first

Litter inside a car

Cars can quickly accumulate all sorts of rubbish; from empty food packets, carrier bags, coats and much more. It is easy to use the back seat or boot as a dumping ground for items and before you know it, your car becomes cluttered.

Before you start to deep clean your vehicle, first, you’ll want to clear out all the clutter, making an effort to recycle any paper, cardboard or plastic rubbish where possible. Spending a few minutes de-cluttering your car every so often will help keep rubbish at bay. Just remember to check underneath seats, the glove compartment and door pockets for any stray items.

On her website, Victoria from Snail Pace Transform suggests making some rules to help keep your car clutter-free: “Make it a family rule that no one leaves the car without something in at least one hand when you arrive at home. Once this becomes routine, most of your problems with vehicle clutter will be eliminated. In the pocket on the back of the driver’s seat in my car, I try to keep a handful of empty grocery bags that I can use to gather trash as needed. When we eat in the car, I pass one around when everyone is finished eating and have them place their fast food containers in the bag.”

John, who writes for Dad Blog UK told us about his top tip for keeping the family car clutter-free: “Ban anyone from eating in the car. During the summer holidays, I tend to do a lot of driving with the family and I get a bit lax at enforcing this rule. The car very quickly fills up with food wrappers, lollipop sticks and so on. When people don't eat in the car, it's much easier to keep clean and tidy.”

Chloe from Chloe Talks told us that she considers car cleaning to be similar to regular housework: “It is important to keep on top of it regularly as well as avoiding eating in the car as this can often create a horrible mess. It is also handy to keep a small bin or bag in the boot to get rid of any unwanted items quickly.”

Storage caddies

Think about adding storage caddies to your car to help keep the interior a litter-free zone, suggests Emma from The Cheshire Wife: “I have just purchased a Yoofan organiser to help keep the back of my car clean and free from rubbish.” Storage caddies are a great way of keeping items in place, especially for long journeys as well as helping to keep your car clutter-free.

As well as caddy-style organisers, the brand also makes waterproof backseat car covers which could be a great solution for families. Yoofan says: “The car backseat organiser is a must-have for a car owner, especially parents. It can adequately protect your car seat’s back and keep it clean. It can hold magazines, toys, snacks, tablets and phones to add joy to the journey.”

Vacuum cleaner

Woman vacuuming car seats

Buying a handheld vacuum cleaner for spot cleaning your car’s upholstery as well as deep cleaning is a great way to eliminate dirt and debris and keep your vehicle looking pristine, says Leah from Devoted to Pink: “My top cleaning product is definitely a small, handheld vacuum that you can quickly whip out to clean up any crumbs, dirt and outside debris.”

Vacuum review website explains that cleaning a car is never going to be fun, but a poor quality vacuum can make the process unbearable: “If you’ve ever struggled to get a heavy upright to your car, cursed as you ran out of cord or given up getting dirt out of footwells due to poor suction, you know exactly what I mean. Fortunately, there are some excellent vacuums for cars on the market. The best car vacuum cleaners provide strong suction, are convenient to use and can get into the tightest cracks in your vehicle. Most importantly, they make it quick and easy to get rid of mud, dirt and hair from your car – with minimum stress.”

Technology and lifestyle website, T3, also agrees that car vacuums are a great investment: “The best car vacuum cleaners suck dust and debris from your car's interior like a champ: some plug into a 12V socket, others are gloriously cordless, but either way, they'll bust dust and dirt fantastically. Those with pets or kids and a love of outdoor pursuits should definitely shell out more for a powerful cordless from the likes of Philips, Gtech and Dyson. They are designed to lift pet hair and suck away awkward spills and will happily serve as a vacuum for using around the house as well.”

Glass cleaner

Clean windows are important for not only cleanliness but also safety because reduced visibility from a dirty windscreen and windows could increase the risk of an accident. Being able to see properly through all mirrors and windows of your vehicle is something motorists should check before every journey.

Glass products are designed to clean glass without leaving streaks or residue. These specific products have formulas which help to clear away grime. John told us why a glass cleaning product is an essential part of his kit: “I dislike not having a crystal-clear windscreen so I regularly use window or windscreen cleaners to keep the inside of the windscreen clean.

With so many glass cleaning products on the market, how do you know which one to buy? AutoGuide explains on its website: “For the most part, quality glass cleaners offer very similar features and you may have a tough time differentiating them beyond their price tag. But there are a few things to look for when shopping for one.

“First, you want to stay clear of any products that use ammonia or an ingredient that could produce toxic fumes. Ammonia and its fumes can cause certain materials such as plastic, rubber, vinyl, and leather to dry out. And although you’re not directly applying glass cleaner to any of those surfaces, drips and accidents happen. In addition, solutions with ammonia will damage any tint you may have on your glass.

“Although not as important, you’ll want to choose a product that’s easy to apply whether that’s with a spray bottle or an aerosol can. Some products offer a nice, foaming action that’s easy to spray on and wipe off, digging deep into any dirt or grime you may have on your windows. Try to avoid glass cleaners that may drip and cause a mess.”

AutoGuide also says to avoid using household cleaners because of the ammonia content which can often be included: “In addition, your car sees a lot more wear and tear from the environment, which means streaking becomes an issue if you use a household cleaner. Some users also report fogging as an issue if you use a household cleaner on your car’s windows.”

Odour eliminators

Air freshener hanging from rearview mirror

It can be tricky to keep your car smelling fresh, but regular general cleaning can keep most odours at bay. There are also a few products to help eliminate any unpleasant smells.

Scented disinfectant

Zoflora is a disinfectant which is known for its long-lasting scent as well as its antibacterial properties. It can be used neat or diluted throughout the home and the interior of vehicles, as Chloe explains: “To keep my car smelling fresh, I use diluted Zoflora across the dashboard, doors and any hard surface, as this leaves a long-lasting smell.”

Fabric freshener

Nasty smells can linger on soft furnishings like car seats and carpets. To help eliminate these consider using a fabric freshener such as Febreze or Odour Eliminator. These kinds of products don’t mask unpleasant smells, they neutralize them by altering the PH levels.

If your upholstery doesn’t have any stains and you simply want to give the interior a clean-smelling scent, then try spritzing diluted fabric softener, suggests Chloe.

Air fresheners

Car air fresheners are a great way to maintain a pleasant-smelling car. There are air fresheners which can be tied to the rear-view mirror such as Little Trees which come in a variety of scents including Green Apple, Lemon Grove and New Car Scent.

For a more discreet air freshener consider using one which clips or slots into your car’s air vents like the Smart Scent™ Vent clips from Yankee Candle which are compatible with most car manufacturers. Choose from scents such as Black Cherry, Clean Cotton or Leather to help keep a continuous and subtle fragrance in your car.

If you prefer not to have air fresheners visible, then consider getting a product which you can simply leave in an empty cup holder like The California Scents Xtreme organic fragrance oil.

Car shampoo and wax

Motorist waxing a red car

Giving your car a regular wash with a good quality shampoo is great if you are trying to achieve that showroom sparkle.

It is not advisable to clean your car using regular washing up liquid as it damages paint, weakens the car’s protective coating and can even turn the paintwork dull over time. Instead, invest in a good quality car shampoo which will help remove dirt and grit while protecting and caring for your car’s bodywork.

There are plenty of products in the shops, including inexpensive liquids like Triplewax Car Shampoo which can simply be added to warm water and used with a car wash sponge, or ones which can be added to a pressure washer like Meguiar’s Ultimate Snow Foam Xtreme Cling. These shampoos are designed to gently remove grime without causing damage to the paintwork. After you have cleaned and rinsed the suds off the car, it is important to dry the chassis properly, says Emma: “For us, microfibre cloths from Asda are amazing, they help give our cars a streak-free gleam.”

Once the car is completely dry you can go one step further by applying wax, though you can find shampoo and wax as an all-in-one product to help make the process quicker.

Car wax is mostly about protecting the paintwork from pollutants, UV rays and water as well as giving the exterior a mirror-like shine. On their website, automotive cleaning product retailer Gold Eagle explains why waxing your car is an important step: “Depending on where you live, your car is frequently exposed to destructive forces like constant sunlight, acid rain, oxidation, and salt. All of these issues can damage the paint, which means you’ll have to repaint your car if you want to keep it looking like new.

“Applying wax to the surface means you’re making it harder for dirt, tree sap, insects, and other debris to stick to the car. This is because anything that tries to stick to your car is not actually making contact with the paint, thanks to the protective layer of wax. Without the wax there, you might have to pay for a full detail of the car to remove all the debris, which means waxing can save you time and money on your next car wash.”

By having a small collection of cleaning products at home means you can quickly and efficiently keep on top of your car cleaning chores. Having a clean and tidy vehicle means you will feel more organised and ready to tackle the day ahead.

Are you looking to purchase a new motor vehicle? We offer a range of new Ford cars and used Ford cars for sale at our dealerships. Feel free to get in touch with our friendly team today to find out more.