Handy tips to clean your car's exterior

June 30, 2015

You want your car looking like new for as long as possible — but dead bugs, bumper stickers and tar are not exactly adding to that purpose. Fortunately, there are strategies to get your car exterior back into the shape you want it in.

Handy tips to clean your car's exterior

Counterattack on bug splats

The next time you clean the bugs off your car, get preventive and spray the front of your car with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil or wipe it down with baby oil. Most bugs won't stick around, and the ones that do can be hosed or wiped off more easily.

Mesh away bug messes

Get rid of the bug corpses on your car by squirting a little dishwashing detergent over the spot and scrubbing with a mesh bag — the kind supermarket onions are sold in. The mesh is rough enough to remove bugs, yet usually not so rough it'll scratch your car paint or windshield. Once you've scrubbed away the bugs, wipe the surface with a clean cloth.

A nutty debugger

To get rid of dead bugs on your windshield or bumper, smear the area with peanut butter and let it sit for a while to soften the bug splatters. Then wash off the mess with a cloth soaked in soapy water.

Fight skunk odour with mustard

Get rid of skunk stink by dissolving 250 grams (one cup) of dried mustard in 11 litres (three gallons) of water and splash the solution over the car's tires and undercarriage, using a spray wand to clean the latter.

Bumper stickers be gone

You may be surprised by how many sticker removers are squirreled away in your cabinets and fridge. Just paint the bumper sticker with one of these four substances and let it soak in for three or four minutes. Then gently scrape off the sticker with the edge of a credit card.

  • Brush the sticker with nail polish remover
  • Apply a thick layer of cold cream
  • Drench the sticker with a citrus-based cleaner
  • Smear it with mayonnaise

Oil away a decal

To remove a decal or sticker from your windshield, spray it with vegetable oil or a multi-purpose lubricant and let the spray soak in for a while. Then scrape the decal off with the edge of a credit card. If bits of it stay stuck, heat the area with a hair dryer and try again.

Take down tar

Road tar can be difficult to remove from your car, but you'll win the battle over the black goo when you try one of these removal methods, rinsing and drying after each one.

  • Try spraying the tar with a laundry pre-wash stain remover. Let it sit for 10– 15 minutes and then wipe it off.
  • Wet a cloth with linseed oil and apply it to the tar spots. Let the oil soak in for about 10 minutes. Once the tar softens, douse another cloth with linseed oil and wipe the tar away.
  • Rub the tar with peanut butter, leave it on for 10 minutes, and then wipe it away with a soft cloth.
  • Spray the spots with a multi-purpose lubricant and let it soak in for 5 minutes. Then wipe the tar away with a soft cloth.
  • Pour a cup of carbonated cola on a clean cloth and rub the tar off the car surface.
  • Mix 250 millilitres (one cup) of kerosene with 3.5 litres (one gallon) of water and scrub the tar away with a rag soaked in the potent solution. Be careful.

Keep these tricks up your sleeve and your car's exterior will remain shiny and clean — and the envy of your neighbours!

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