Woman in wheelchair holding her son while they are cleaning the car

How to spring clean your car

After a cold and wet winter, your car may benefit from a good clean to get it back to looking its best. Taking good care of your car and keeping it clean is essential, not just to improve how it looks, but it helps ensure things keep functioning the way they’re supposed to. 

With the days getting longer and brighter, it’s a good time to start thinking about a spring clean for your car in preparation for the upcoming trips you might take during the warmer months. During winter, the outside of your car can lose its shine from salt and dirt from the road. The inside can also get a little messy, as you’re more likely to carry in some of the outside mud and dirt into the car. 

The following 11 tips cover both the exterior and interior of your car, with some recommendations for tools to use. Just doing a few of these tips regularly can help your car look great throughout the year. If you are not able to do any of the following steps yourself, try to find a family member or friend who can help you out.  

How to clean the outside of your car

The body

Grit, salt, and dirt from the road can take the shine off your car’s bodywork. Cleaning them off is relatively easy, but you need to work in stages.  

First, pre-wash your car with a pressure washer or hose to get rid of as much grit and grime as possible. Then use a soft microfibre cloth to tackle more stubborn stains. Use a car shampoo instead of washing up liquid, which can degrade your car’s protective wax. Try to avoid using a sponge, as it can easily push grit across the bodywork and cause damage. 

Always start at the top and finish at the bottom. This allows gravity to help as you work soapy water across the car.  

If your car needs a polish, find a product with carnauba wax, micro-abrasives, and silicones. Just be careful not to use too much. You should only need to polish your car a couple of times a year. 

Always start at the top and finish at the bottom, allowing gravity to help as you work soapy water across the car. If your car needs a polish, some good ingredients to look for in your product are carnauba wax, micro-abrasives and silicones. Be sure not to overdo it though – you should only need to polish your car a couple of times a year.

Windscreen and windows

A clear, smear-free windscreen is essential for good visibility. To clean your windscreen, carefully lift the windscreen wipers up and away from the screen. If the screen is particularly dirty, use water and a soft brush to remove the bulk of the grime.  

When the screen is dry, spray an alcohol-based glass cleaner onto a microfibre cloth (never use a harmful, ammonia-based cleaner). Using the cloth, make long, smooth strokes until you’ve cleaned the whole windscreen.  

Then use a dry microfibre cloth to buff it and repeat on the inside of the screen. Clean all the windows following the same process. 

Did you know?

If you notice a chip in your windscreen during your spring clean, or at any other time, you will need to book in a repair. It’s best to do this as soon as possible, as a chip in your windscreen can be dangerous. As a Motability Scheme customer, your windscreen repairs are covered in your lease package with our partner, Autoglass, at no extra cost. There is however a payment required if your windscreen needs replacing, so it’s important to get repairs as soon as you can. The quickest way to schedule an appointment with Autoglass is to book online.

Windscreen wipers

Your wheels and hubs don’t require too much work. To clean them, all you need is a soft sponge, soapy water, and some elbow grease.  

Before you get started, turn the engine off and make sure the wheels are cool. You can use a wheel brush or an old toothbrush to get into narrower areas. Then rinse with clean water and dry with a soft cloth. 

Wheels and hubs

Your wheels and hubs don’t require too much work – all you need is a soft sponge, soapy water and some elbow grease. Turn the engine off and make sure the wheels are cool, before cleaning them with soapy water and a sponge. You can use a wheel brush or toothbrush to get into narrower areas. Then, rinse with clean water and dry with a soft cloth.

Did you know?

Looking after your tyres can help them last longer. But, if you do have any problems with your tyres during your lease with the Motability Scheme, we’ve got you covered. Our partner, Kwik Fit, will repair your tyres as a part of your lease package. The quickest way to book your tyre repair is on the ‘Tyres’ section of your online account.

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Car headlights can become dull over time as dirt from the road builds on them. To fix this, you can use a simple and affordable DIY method. Just mix some baking soda with water to create a paste and apply it to your headlights with a sponge, rubbing in a circular motion. Leave to soak in and then rinse away with clean water.

How to clean the inside of your car

Air vents

If you forget to clean your car’s air vents, you might find that a build-up of dirt and dust blows into the vehicle when the air conditioning is turned on. This is not ideal for when it starts to get warmer.

To avoid this, dip a soft paintbrush into a mixture of water and white vinegar (50% of each liquid), then use it to gently clean the inside of the vents. Take care not to use too much liquid. Remember to check and rinse the brush frequently, and then use a microfibre cloth to dry the vents.

For a deeper clean, you could even use a sprayable enzymatic. This will however cost more than the water and vinegar option. 


Your dashboard collects dust and fingerprints that can leave it looking faded. To fix this, vacuum it with a soft brush head attachment, and then wipe clean with a microfibre cloth and water. You can use a soft-bristled toothbrush or paintbrush to get into any hard-to-reach areas. 

If your car has a touch-screen infotainment system, a damp, soft cloth will remove any fingerprints. Avoid using chemical solutions here, as they are likely to strip away the screen’s coating. Wipe the screen dry and remove any remaining smears using a microfibre cloth. 

Floor mats

The mats under your feet and the footwells below the mats collect dirt over time. To clean these, you will need to remove the mats from the car and use a high-suction vacuum to clean the footwell.  

Hot, soapy water and a stiff brush can work away any stubborn marks, while a specialist carpet cleaner will give even better results. 

Shake the mats outside the car to remove loose bits of dirt and then use the brush and vacuum. Apply a carpet shampoo or soapy water to the entire mat, using a stiff-bristled brush to work into the surface. Rub dry with a microfibre cloth and hang the mats to dry before returning them to the footwell. 


To clean your car seats, use a hand vacuum with a soft head or a soft-bristled brush.  

For fabric seats, a specific fabric cleaner such as a spray or foam could help lift some of the stubborn stains that cannot be easily wiped away.  

With leather seats, it’s best to use a leather cleaning solution. You can use a soft-bristled brush when you apply the cleaning product and then wipe it away with a microfibre cloth. Be careful not to brush too hard as leather seats can mark more easily than fabric. 

Always read the instructions of products before you use them.  

When you have finished cleaning the seats, leave them to dry naturally.

The boot

Over time, your car’s boot can get cluttered with unnecessary items, leaving less space for essential items. While it’s easy to temporary put things in the boot, this can often mean it’s forgotten if you do not see it all the time.  

Keeping your boot as clear as possible will help your car will feel lighter, reducing battery or fuel usage, while also leaving room for mobility products or essential equipment. 

Pet hair

While furry friends can be great company in the car, they can also create some mess. To initially clean your seats, you can use a vacuum or a lint roller to clean the surfaces. If there is mud on the seats, make sure you use the correct solution based on the fabric-type.

To protect your car moving forward, you could use rubberised mats, as they are weather-proof and could be helpful if you like to explore the countryside. You can also look to cover your seats with some old towels or sheets rather than buying dedicated liners.

Do you travel often with your dog in the car? Read our tips and tricks on keeping your dog happy in the car.


About the Scheme

The Motability Scheme makes leasing a car an easy, hassle-free experience. With the Scheme, you can exchange part or all of your qualifying mobility allowance to lease a brand-new vehicle of your choice. Insurance, breakdown assistance, servicing and maintenance are already arranged and included in the price you pay, so you can enjoy the freedom that comes with a worry-free lease.

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