Spring cleaning is a term most of us have heard. It means that you have spent the winter stuck inside, letting the dust pile up and the dirt get ground into the carpet, and now it’s time to clean up. But, there is another place where you spend a lot of time that gets even dirtier than you home — your vehicle. Vehicles take the punishment of winter on both the inside and the outside.

Snow, sleet and most of all salt cover your vehicle in the winter, and by the time spring rolls around, it needs more than a run through the automatic car wash. Your vehicle deserves the hands-on approach. The soap you use to wash your car can be ordinary dishwashing liquid or special soap designed especially for washing vehicles. The point is, roll up your sleeves and give it a good wash. Start on the roof and work your way out. Wash everything — get the tires and side view mirrors, get the headlights and the bumper, get every inch of the vehicle.

Once the outside is done, it’s time tackle the interior. For many people, the car is where they spend a good part of their work day, and it shows. For some people, the vehicle is used to transport kids to school and activities, and it shows. Start with a garbage bag and collect all the cups, fast food containers, pens, business cards, half eaten doughnuts, last week’s spelling test, action figures, soda cans and the garage door opener that you yelled at your spouse for losing.

After the garbage and stuff is collected, pull out the floor mats and plug in the vacuum. Try to get the big stuff like paperclips and French fries by hand, then start sucking up the rest. Don’t forget behind and under the seats as well. If you are like most people, you’ll probably find an average of $3 in change.

Next, clean the seats, dashboard, doors and console. If the seats are vinyl or leather, many different types of cleaners can be used. If it is fabric, you will need a good upholstery cleaner. A nice way to top off a good interior cleaning is with an air freshener.

Returning to the outside of the vehicle, there are many products available to clean your tires. These products will give your tires a wet and shiny look.

Finally, you may consider waxing or polishing your vehicle. Waxing a car is in essence adding a layer of protection. Waxing will add shine to the car and give it that wet look, but it will also protect the car from the elements and ultraviolet light. When you polish a car, you are cleaning it. Polishing eliminates scratches, rust, dirt and wax. It contains abrasives that actually remove a thin layer of the car’s paint. Polishing also brings out the color and adds shine. Follow the directions on the bottle when waxing or polishing.

Spring is good time to start driving fresh and clean. Clean your vehicle now and make room for beach balls, flip flops, lawn chairs and coolers later.

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