Whether you’re considering buying a new car, just bought one, or are in the mood to give your current ride a few hackworthy upgrades, this post is for you. It turns out there are quite a few things you can do to make your car life run more smoothly, from cleaning headlights with toothpaste to making your car dashboard into a device dashboard—and they’re all achievable with pretty easy-to-find, inexpensive items!
1. Use seltzer water to remove bird poop. If you made the mistake of parking under a highly populated tree, have no fear—seltzer water makes a great cleaning agent for bird droppings.
2. Use toothpaste for gleaming headlights. This one’s pretty simple. Just apply toothpaste to the lens cover (no water), and rub it all over the surface, then rinse and dry. The toothpaste gets things looking super clean, and even buffs away scratches.
3. Use nail polish remover to get rid of tree sap on your windshield or mirrors. One of the scourges of the spring and summer months, you’ve no doubt had to deal with this problem. Just dab a bit of nail polish remover—or even clear nail polish—onto the sap, and rub away with a cloth. Warning: Don’t use this method on the painted body of the car, it could definitely mess up your finish.
4. Use baking soda to clean the interior surfaces. Baking soda has an amazing ability to remove dirt and odors, so next time you accidentally spill your coffee (or something worse) in the footwell, pour baking soda over the spill and then scrub in after ten minutes, then vacuum. You can also use baking soda and water to clean all plastic surfaces inside the car, just scrub gently.
5. Use shampoo on the exterior. For some reason, washing a car with hair shampoo works really well—probably because it breaks through the grime that can build up particularly on the tires and bottom half of your car with ease. (Lather, rinse, repeat.)
6. Convert a cereal container into a car trashcan. This is a great one, especially if you like to eat in the car (guilty) and/or somehow end up with various receipts and shopping lists strewn around (guilty). Keep things tidy with a repurposed cereal bin.
7. Have a razor blade handy. Have something random stuck to your windshield or windows that seltzer water won’t get rid of? The edgier choice in the razor blade—use with caution, and never on painted surfaces.
8. Replace your lighter with a USB charger. If you don’t smoke, this is a great way to make sure you can always charge your device (or multiple devices) when you’re on the go. USB chargers are pretty cheap, too.
9. Mount your phone or tablet on the dashboard. To make using GPS functions easier, set up a mounting station on your dashboard. This also keeps your devices from flying around the car when you go around a curve—double bonus.
10. Unfreeze door locks with hand sanitizer. If your door lock froze overnight, just squirt some hand sanitizer (with alcohol) into the lock, wait 30 seconds, and voila—like magic, the lock is thawed! The alcohol in the hand sanitizer is what does the trick.
11. Clear interior condensation with a chalkboard eraser. This is a good solution for steamy or foggy interior glass, since it doesn’t leave smudges and fits easily into a glove compartment.
12. Store tissues in a to-go cup. This is a great way to keep tissues nearby, especially if you’re dealing with cold season. Fits nicely into the cupholder.
13. Clean the interior glass with shaving cream. Shaving cream has similar ingredients to commercial defoggers, so the residual layer that it leaves behind keeps your car windows from fogging up in the first place.
14. Fill a sock with kitty litter. Still having interior condensation problems? Fill a sock or stocking with cat litter, which will absorb the moisture in your car overnight, preventing it from collecting on the windows.
15. Drive over a sprinkler. A few times a year—and especially in summer, on warmer days—turn on a sprinkler and drive your car back and forth over it a few times. This helps to remove the dirt, salt and ice that collect underneath your car and can cause problems over the long term.
Have a car hack in mind that we missed? We’d love to hear it! And, when you’re ready to buy that new car you’re daydreaming about hacking—or sell the one you’ve been hacking for awhile—here’s how to get started.