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July 17, 2007

Have crevice tool, will travel


Tips for detailing your car’s interior

If you’ve ever taken a nervous cat to the vet in your car, you already know they can shoot fur like spears.

Three months later there’s still fur on the mirrors, fur in the glove compartment and fur in the CD slot. It’s not the cat’s fault that it got so nervous. Nobody was thoughtful enough to mix it a stiff drink so it could endure the 6-minute ride at life-sucking speeds (40 kph).

Nor did anyone invent a way to give cats their shots so that they would feel nothing but their usual soaring indifference.


Stainless and Painless

If you’re living the kind of life that has introduced pet fur, road dirt, salt deposits, ink stains and explosive coffee spills to your auto interior, it could probably use some attention.


Here are some insider tips on getting your car habitable again.




Start with the greatest patent of 1909, the “crevice cleaning tool for a vacuum cleaner apparatus”. Cars are full of crevices. I like using a portable wet-dry shop vac but as long as it sucks, it’ll work. The joy of seeing crumbs, dirt and rogue French fries disappear up an anonymous black tube will fill you with exuberance.


Pet Fur

Pet fur has microscopic barbs that foil the sucking forces of vacuum cleaners, no matter how long you leave that crevice tool sucking on one furry area. The best way to get pet fur off plush and cloth surfaces is to employ a 3M lint remover roller. The lint roller will actually grab the embedded hairs and remove them instantly, with way less irritation (and way less screaming) than a bikini wax.



You can remove ball-point ink from leather, cloth or vinyl using a Q-tip dipped in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. If you’ve had an exploding pen incident it may take a few applications. Rubbing alcohol is drying to skin, as we all recall from frantic dabbings on pre-prom pimples, so go easy on applying this stuff to leather, which is, afterall, skin.



Crayons transmit wax onto all surfaces within reach of the pudgy hands of young offspring. End the heartbreak with WD-40. A quick spray will soften the pigmented wax. Let it set for a few minutes and then wipe with a clean cloth. Follow this treatment by massaging a bit of Dawn dishwashing detergent into the stain with a fine-bristled brush (or old toothbrush). After you have scrupulously banished the stain, remove all crayons from the car until toddlers have reached early adulthood.



Scrub encrusted salt deposits with a half-and-half solution of vinegar and water. The vinegar completely dissolves the sodium, whether it got there from your winter boots or from repeated applications of salt to your drive-thru French fries.



Rubbing alcohol is one of my favourite cleaning solvents and works brilliantly on general grime. If you think you don’t have general grime, try wiping the surface of your steering wheel with an alcohol-soaked cloth and then notice the streak of cleanliness it leaves in its wake. Rubbing alcohol rocks.


Glass Ho

If you’ve ever used ‘protectant’ sprays like Armor-All to put a shine on interior vinyl, the inside of your windshield is probably coated with haze. The haze appears because Armor All’s petroleum-based chemicals break down in the sun.  Use denatured alcohol (methylated spirits) to remove the haze. If you really love buffing your vinyl, consider switching to a water-based protectant like 303 Aerospace Protectant ($13.50, available at eshine.ca).



Love happens, and sometimes it happens in cars. If you have lipstick on your upholstery, rub it with some non-gel white toothpaste to remove traces of romance. Then use a wet cloth to remove traces of toothpaste.



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