We are in an age of overusing harmful cleaning products, TikTok videos showing users overloading chemicals in trending videos are highlighting just how widespread this issue is. Not only can combinations of cleaners be bad for our homes, but they’re also bad for our health due to toxic fumes and the environment.

When we clean our cars, the water that runs off carries detergent, oil, and other contaminants into rivers, streams, and groundwater. This pollution can also cause harm to animals and plants.  While we aren’t outside pouring bleach and cleaning foam all over our cars, we are reminded that there are household items we can use to clean cars that save money and aren’t harmful to the environment and your car.

Be careful which cleaning household products you use to clean your car – choosing the wrong product such as shoe polish or nail polish remover can permanently damage the paint. Goodbye Car have rounded up some useful tips on how to use household items to clean your car that won’t damage it, or the environment, in the process!


White vinegar

This home staple is a versatile multi-purpose cleaner and is great for many surfaces, including the exterior of your car and upholstery. While white vinegar is acidic, when diluted it won’t damage your car paint – just avoid using it regularly and only when there is dirt that just won’t budge. Avoid spraying it directly on to your car without it being mixed with water. It’s also great at removing bumper stickers, smells, and chewing gum from your carpeting.

As a general rule of thumb, for what is known as a sour rinse, you should mix 3 parts water with 1 part white vinegar, and use it sparingly. This mixture will be useful in removing stubborn dirt and grease that ordinary car soap cannot. A mixture of 60ml olive oil and 120ml white vinegar can also be used for leather upholstery.

Shake your mixtures thoroughly and use a clean cloth to wipe down.


Coconut oil

When you’ve cleaned your leather upholstery, you can condition it with coconut oil. You only need a small amount that can be worked into the material with a clean dry cloth. Plus, your car will smell great. This can also protect it from cracking and restore its eye-catching shine.


Corn starch

A food ingredient that is usually used to thicken sauces and soups, corn starch is a cleaning genius that is effective for many different purposes. Clean your car windows with a mixture of 120g cornstarch and 1L water and then dry with newspaper. Corn starch can deodorise smells too when sprinkled and left to work its magic for about half an hour.

Corn starch is also good for removing excess car polish and wax. The last thing you need after giving your car a good polish is residue that will attract dirt more than it did before. This buff can also help remove swirl marks on black cars.



As well as keeping our breaths minty fresh and teeth squeaky clean, toothpaste can be applied to make our headlights shine brighter than our enamel. When headlights start to get foggy, remove all the excess dirt and grime with warm soapy water and a cloth, then apply any cheap toothpaste and rub. Just try to avoid getting it on your car’s paintwork – you can apply tape to cordon off the headlight.


Rubbing alcohol

Forget running to the stores for some fancy stain remover to keep your car in pristine condition. Save your pennies and reach for rubbing alcohol instead – dab the offending stain with a dye-free cloth. Remember, don’t rub, just dab.

If you’ve run out of de-icer or are looking for cheaper alternatives, spraying a mixture of 60ml alcohol to 1L water to your windshield in winter should help melt the ice away.

You can also use equal parts rubbing alcohol and water to clean hard surfaces of the interior of your car.


Baking soda

Baking soda is one of the handiest and flexible kitchen staples. As well as being used for cooking and teeth whitening, it can be used for car cleaning. Dusty ashtrays filled with crumbs and hairs can be an unsightly aesthetic. They can also be a nightmare to remove with just a wipe down. After vacuuming to remove excess dirt, apply a mixture of baking soda and water, let it sit for half an hour, and scrub with a toothbrush.


Peanut butter

Tree sap is sticky and can generally be a nuisance. It can stay on your clothes forever and even take days to wash off skin. To remove tree sap from your car, all you need is a jar of peanut butter! Spread the peanut butter over the affected area and try to warm the area – we recommend using smooth rather than chunky peanut butter to avoid scratches! You can also use mayonnaise and hand sanitiser too if you have these lying around.


Cinnamon Christmas Scent

It’s no good having a clean car if it still smells like it’s dirty. Get into the Christmas spirit and create your own festive scented car freshener with just a few simple steps and ingredients. To create this homemade car freshener, grab yourself an empty mason jar and add orange peels, while topping it up with white vinegar.

To give it a true Christmas feel, add some cinnamon sticks in there too. The next step is to leave it for around 2 weeks in a cool, dark place and transfer it into a spray bottle. Then all that’s left is to spray a few times into the car, and voilà!

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8 Household Items to Clean Your Car