July 6, 2004
to enjoy enhanced features like these.
1. If It Doesn't Get Dirty. . . You don't have to clean it! Probably half the battle of a clean car is not getting it too dirty to begin with. Of course, if you're on the go this summer, you'll probably need drinks and snacks. Try these smart ideas.
2. Smart Drinks and Snacks You'll never be able to convince the kids that those abundant cup holders in most cars aren't meant to be used, so it makes good sense to lay down some ground rules about drinks that are allowed while you're traveling. The best drink is water. Try a fun water bottle, but if kids revolt, apple juice is probably the safest—and easiest to clean up. At the very least, insist on spill-proof cups or plastic bottles.
One of our favorite super snacks is pretzel rods. They don't melt when they're inevitably left in the hot sun (which is what makes chocolate an absolute no-no), and they're big enough that they don't get dropped easily. Another good snack for older kids is carrot sticks, which are fun to eat and healthy. Dry cereal is another good option, and it's easily vacuumed!
3. An Inside Job First, the interior needs a little TLC. Wipe down leather and vinyl with a quality cleaner, but if it's slippery, do not use it on the steering wheel.
4. Vac Attack Snacks and kids mean a mess in the car. Someone is bound to drop their snacks and even walk all over them and grind them in. And rainy days and baseball games mean mud, so a thorough vacuuming is in order to keep the car looking nice. It also keeps the carpet in better shape, so it doesn't wear as quickly. If you have one, try using a handheld cordless vac, which is the perfect size for kids to help. It also makes the task so much easier if you don't have to worry about dragging the cord around with you.
5. Splish Splash the Car Needs a Bath Now that the inside is shipshape, it's time to get to work on the outside of the car. You're going to get wet and so are the kids, so put the vacuum away (especially if it's electrical), dress everyone in swimsuits and sandals or swimming shoes (no soggy sneakers!), and have a supply of towels by the door.
Rinse thoroughly to remove loose dirt. Wash the wheels first (spray and clean one at a time) so you don't splash the clean car later. Use a good quality wheel cleaner. Spray it on, scrub with a wheel brush if needed, and rinse. Do not let the wheel cleaner dry on the wheel.
Choose a wash product designed specifically for washing your car, so it doesn't remove the wax. Wash from the top down. Rinse thoroughly to avoid scratches and swirls.
6. How Dry I Am Dry the car with old 100 percent cotton bath or beach towels. You can also use a chamois, which is available at auto parts stores. One person we spoke with even suggested using the lawn and leaf blower to dry the car. Be sure to wipe off inside the door sills when drying the car.
7. Yes, You Do Windows Wash windows last with glass cleaner and paper towels or a cotton cloth. Wash the inside horizontally and the outside vertically, so if you get streaks it's easy to tell which side is streaked. Clean windows are not only beautiful to look through, they also increase visibility and safety.
8. Finishing Touches Treat exterior plastic and rubber (tires and trim) with a quality surface protectant to counteract damage from the sun and atmospheric pollutants. And it also makes the car look professionally maintained.
9. Wax On, Wax Off Two times a year, be sure to wax the car with a quality wax. Check your vehicle's owner's manual to see if your car has a clear coat or other paint specifications. Also, look for a section on general car cleaning specifically for your car.
10. What's that Smell? Many air fresheners are too strong in the car, but Febreze® Auto is formulated to eliminate odors that can linger in interior fabrics like cloth seats, carpet floor mats and upholstered infant carriers. And as it removes odors from your car, it freshens with a light, clean scent.
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