Shopping Siren’s car is red.


To the best of anyone’s recollection.

At the moment it’s mostly grayish-white. You know, like your car. And your neighbor’s car. And the cars of all your friends and co-workers and everyone behind, beside or in front of you in traffic, in perpetuity.

Because it’s been that kind of winter.

The salt and sand, ice-scraper marks and bumper scuffs from sliding into that other car on Main Street (again, so sorry about that), made winter car-washing, at best, a poor solution that lasted about three and a half minutes. At worst, it turned out to be a great way to freeze your doors shut from New Year’s to Easter.

But now — now! — it feels like we’ve turned a corner. Street sweepers have started cleaning up the mountains of accumulated sand. Daytime temperatures have reached into the 60s. Our last snowstorm was more than a week ago.


Forget spring-cleaning the house. It’s car-cleaning season.

And just in time, because my grayish-white car recently started acquiring mud-colored flecks. Kind of like yours.  

* Mothers California Gold clay bar system, O’Reilly Auto Parts, $19.99

Apparently, clay is good for more than just re-enacting that iconic pottery wheel scene in the movie “Ghost.” Who knew? Mothers California Gold comes with two clay bars, a microfiber towel and a 16-ounce bottle of “instant detailer.” According to the description, one uses the clay bars to “remove embedded grains of metal, tree sap, airborne environmental deposits and paint overspray.” I’m not entirely clear on how it works, but it sounds nearly as magical as Patrick Swayze.

* Carrand 2-in-1 detail brush, O’Reilly Auto Parts, $3.49

Bristly brush on one end, fluffy duster on the other. Perfect for flicking dirt and debris out of air vents and dashboard crevices, then sweeping it away with a flourish. Hey, the inside of your car went through winter, too.

* Rain-X microfiber window mate, Pep Boys, $2.99

Hand-sized, microfiber, mop-like ball used to defog and clean glass. Basically, it looks like a Tribble. Which means you will alternately be delighted and squeamish about squishing it up against that far corner of your windshield. 

* Auto spa power wand, Pep Boys, $24.99

Spray wand that mixes soap and water, a lot like those wands available for use at self-serve car washes. So you can save your bucket for other important things. Like creating a Stomp tribute band.  

* AutoCraft lamb’s wool mitt, Advance Auto Parts, $12.99

Super-soft mitt for gentle washing. The closest you can come to sudsing your car with a baby bunny. (Speaking of which, don’t.) 

* Pilot T-Bar Water Blade, Advance Auto Parts, $19.99

Wide silicone blade used to whisk water from your car after washing. Joy is having a car that is both clean and dry. That never would have happened a month ago.

* Stoner Bug and Tarminator, 10 ounces, NAPA, $6.99

It’s supposed to remove bugs, tar and sap from your car. I have no idea whether it works (though the Auburn store only had two cans left, so, good sign). I was mostly taken by the name Tarminator. Your car finish’s new motto: “I’ll be back.” 

* Carrand extra large sponge, NAPA, $2.99

Super-soft mitts, million-bristle brushes and microfiber cloths are great, but sometimes you just need a sponge.  

Best find: Pep Boys cleaners, Pep Boys, $3.99 to $5.99

The display looked like it belonged in a high-end salon: spray bottles of blue, large bottles of pink, smaller bottles in cream. But the beauty treatment is for your car. Genius! Products include, among others, a concentrated wash, spray wax, detailer and window cleaner. Because when your car looks good, you look good.

Think twice: Dupli-Color tire paint pen, O’Reilly Auto Parts, $9.99

Looks like a white marker and … no, that’s pretty much it. To touch up faded whitewalls. However, do whitewall tires still exist? And if they do, is it really worth $10 to touch them up? That’s between you and your tires, but my tires and I vote no. We’ll be over here with the soap suds and sun. Feel free to look for us. My car is the red one.   

Shopping Siren’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who believe the microfiber window mate/Tribble is the best squeaker-less toy ever) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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