Car-Cleaning Tips

12 ways to give your wheels a fresh start

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Green Home 2011 GMC Terrain Interior Seats Down © 2011, HGTV

If a clean machine is what you're after, look no further than this to-do list.

1. Clean up spills quickly, before they have a chance so soak in and set.

2. When vacuuming, use the duster-brush attachment to get in all the nooks and crannies of the dashboard, center console and door panels. If you don't have an attachment, use a paintbrush to dislodge the dust.

3. Use the crevice tool to reach between seats and the console to dislodge food crumbs and other hidden goodies. Remember to move the seats to their extreme front and back positions.

4. Don't forget to vacuum the seams on seats, where dirt accumulates and breaks down the material.

5. For upholstery, use a mild solution (a couple of drops per gallon) of dishwashing detergent and water to clean seats. Dip a clean towel into the solution and rub gently. For leather upholstery, a leather cleaner is recommended, although the homemade cleaner can be used. After cleaning leather, rub in a conditioner. Use the treatment every six months.

6. If you have tinted windows, it's better to use an alcohol-based cleaner than an ammonia-based glass cleaner, because the ammonia can break down the tint.

7. A good way to get streak-free windows is to use a micro-fiber towel.

8. Don't forget to clean the rearview mirrors and side windows.

9. Clean the instrument panel with a clean micro-fiber cloth.

10. Keep a towel under your seat to quickly clean up spills on fabric upholstery. Instead of rubbing the spill, try pressing down with the towel to soak it up. For more stubborn stains, try using the mild cleaning solution mentioned above.

11. If you do use a spray stain remover, be sure you go back with a clean damp towel to remove any residual cleaner, which acts as a magnet for dirt when left on the seat.

12. Combat red stains with the following method: Fill a spray bottle to the top with 90 percent water and 10 percent ammonia. Spray onto the red stain, wetting well. Place a clean damp towel over the stain and press with a hot iron. This will transfer some of the dye into the towel. Repeat spraying and ironing, and most of the red stain should come out.

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