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Get Winter Grime Off Your Car With Baking Soda

02/26/2016 04:20 EST | Updated 02/26/2017 05:12 EST
MagMos via Getty Images
Car under the snow. Winter trouble

Your car is looking pretty grimy right now. While winter may still be bellowing away on your morning commute, as the adorable little rodents of Groundhog Day have partially indicated, the worst should nearly be over and we're soon on our way to sunshine, shiny cars, and saltless streets.

Before we start heading for the nearest Canadian Tire to stock up on supplies for the annual clean up, it's time to first consider the one household ingredient known for its ability to bake delicious pies and make a poor man's toothpaste. We're talking about sodium bicarbonate, also known as, baking soda.

Baking soda isn't just an ingredient to create things -- it's also notorious for being an extremely effective cleaning solvent that extends beyond the walls of the kitchen. It's a popular choice for where we're dirtiest the most: the car. The winter season has a tendency to collect all sorts of dirty debris, from salt to grime to whatever can inconveniently latch onto your vehicle. Since I'm a man of action, let's skip the Bill Nye science and identify 10 parts of your car that can be cleaned with the magic white solution.

1. Headlamps and Foglights

You need to be able to clearly see the road. With the guck of winter shielding the light from full use, minimal visibility can put you in a ditch fast. As FabHow indicates in detail, it takes more than just two swipes from your snow brush to keep your passengers safe.

  1. Wipe off any excess dry dust from the headlamp or fog light
  2. Combine liquid soap with water into a soapy solution
  3. With a cloth, rub the solution to clean
  4. Rinse it off with a bit of water
  5. Next, combine baking soda and vinegar and mix it into a gooey paste
  6. Give it another rub for a proper clean
  7. Splash it with water, followed by a dry wipe

2. Chrome Bumpers and Trim

If your car exterior comes with chrome bumpers or a chrome trim, you'll need to give that a proper shine as well. Nothing starts the spring season better than a shiny car, and unpolished chrome can really kill the vibe fast. All it needs is a little TLC.

  1. Powder dry baking soda onto a damp cloth or sponge
  2. Apply and rub it on your chrome bumpers and/or chrome trim along your car
  3. Rinse it with water
  4. With a soft, dry cloth, give it a nice buff to remove any salt deposits and grime

3, 4, 5, 6. Mirrors, License Plates, Windshields, and Wiper blades

Grime can collect nearly anywhere, so it's important to remember the details. Similar to your chrome bumpers, any of the above areas can get a healthy tune up with a simple once over with baking soda and a sponge.

  1. Sprinkle dry baking soda on another damp cloth or sponge
  2. Apply and rub it on your mirrors, license plate, windshield, and wiper blades
  3. Rinse everything with water
  4. Complete it with a dry with a soft cloth

7. Car Battery

More of a general maintenance routine than seasonal, your battery can build until the point of corrosion, so we're going to have to pop the hood and start getting our hands a little filthy by cleaning off your battery terminals. To be safe, here are the full instructions. At a glance:

  1. Shut your car off (!)
  2. Loosen the nut on first the negative (-) cable clamp, then the positive (+) one
  3. Check for any leaky acid on the battery, as well as any tears on the battery cables and clamp
  4. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of hot water
  5. Generously brush the clamps and posts
  6. Rinse the battery and cables with a cold water spray and dry
  7. Wipe the clamps, posts, and terminals with petroleum jelly to prevent future corrosion
  8. Reattach the positive and negative clamps

8. Upholstery

Since many of you may have used your car this winter as your part-time mobile home this winter, your upholstery is sure to have attracted Pepsi spills, Big Mac sauce stains, and other accidental mishaps. If your seats are vinyl or fabric, you're in luck: baking soda is still your go-to option.

  1. For vinyl seating, combine 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 4 cups of water and wipe with a clean cloth
  2. For fabric upholstery, if there are fresh spots that need cleaning, apply baking soda directly and give it a brush once the moisture is absorbed
  3. For ugly stains, apply baking soda directly and instead, brush with a damp sponge

9. Carpeting and Floor Mats

Dirty wet boots are probably the single most annoying factor when returning from an aggressive day in the elements. Your floor mats, after a season of being trampled on, will either need to get clean or replaced. Fortunately, you may be able to save a few bucks with the following, rather predictable method:

  1. Sprinkle and rub baking soda into the carpet, then let it dry
  2. Brush the baking soda off (or use a vacuum if you're a perfectionist)

10. Ashtrays

If you've spent most of the winter puffing away, your ashtray may look like it's starting to grow into an unearthly symbiote. Although I'm sure many of you would prefer ashing out of the window, some of you may still need to get rid of the odour that can live dormant in your ashtray.

  • You guessed it: sprinkle baking soda in ashtray. That's it. The baking soda will absorb the smells and odours, while keeping your car mighty fresh.

Do you know of any techniques with household items to clean your car? Share them in the comments below!

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