Nothing feels as foolish as making a mistake that causes permanent damage to your car. Minor misfortunes are inevitable, however, whether due to kiddie carpoolers or careless cashiers. We love our cars, but we live in them, too, which makes them particularly susceptible to all of life’s mishaps and messes.

This April Fools’ Day, Montway is here to help. First, fool yourself with a few “fixes” that make your car look better. Next, get set on the road to less mishaps and messes with tricks to prevent future foolishness.

We live in our cars, which makes them particularly susceptible to all of life’s messes.


All of these tips are try-at-your-own-risk! If you want a real fix instead of a trick, don’t be a fool–visit a professional!

Start Clean

Before taking action, preparation is key. If you haven’t yet read last week’s blog and washed your car, do that first. Thoroughly vacuum the interior, under floor mats and n all crevices. Pay extra attention to areas you will be treating, so grit and garbage don’t get in the way of your success. Pro Tip: floor mats can be hosed off or cleaned in the washing machine, depending on the make and material.

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Chose your Weapon

For DIY stain-slaying, homemade mixes offer the most success. Plus, you can mix up as little or as much as you need. You’ll also need at least two spray bottles, one to fill with your solution, and one full of plain cold water.

  • Vinegar mixed 50/50 with water
  • Ammonia mixed 35/65 or 25/75 with water (note: never use heat with ammonia)
  • Dish-washing detergent (plain) mixed 35/65 with hydrogen peroxide

Absorbent Abhorrence

From seats to ceiling, the absorbent parts of your car suffer the most from life’s leaks. Commuting with coffee, carpooling kids, and split grocery bags, to name just a few. It’s enough to make your head spin–with nausea, if you let any of these substances soak in. Rising temperatures can turn an unsightly stain into a chronic stink.

Lift Liquid

When you spill, your best bet to skip the stain is to blot, not scrub.

  1. Immediately place a clean towel on top of the spill and press down to soak up as much as possible.
  2. Dampen–don’t soak–the stain, with your cleaning spray.
  3. Place a new clean towel on the stain and allow it to soak up the solution, anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, replacing the towel as it becomes saturated.
  4. Once you have soaked up as much liquid as possible, use a clean rag and a small amount of your cleaner to gently wipe at the remaining stain, moving in from the outside of the stain.
    If the stain remains, repeat starting with Step #2, or try the next tip; it works on stubborn stains as well.
Kids often spill drinks and lose crayons under the seats.
Kids often spill drinks and lose crayons under the seats.

Banish Bad Odors

Fighting milk or sugary-drink spills require battling bacteria as well as the stain itself.

  1. Immediately place a clean towel on top of the spill and press down to soak up as much as possible.
  2. Spray with your cleaner.
  3. Liberally sprinkle the stain with baking soda, and allow to dry, overnight if possible.
  4. Vacuum the baking soda.
  5. Lightly spray with cleaner and use a clean rag to gently wipe the remaining stain, moving outside inwards.
    If a smell remains, repeat from Step #2.

Sticky Stains

To get sticky substances like jelly or grease out of the carpet, lather it up. Apply shaving cream directly to the stain and let sit for half an hour. Blot it away with a clean cloth. If some of the stain still remains, try cleaning it with the vinegar mixture described previously. Only use plain shaving cream, not gel, without moisturizers or additives

Burning Love

Cigarette burns are both unsightly and embarrassing. Here are some methods that can help hide tell-tale black mars in your seat or headliner.

  1. Remove the black, hardened edge, using a cloth soaked in water or mayonnaise. You can also gently scrape it off with a razor blade.
  2. Find an inconspicuous place in your car to remove a piece of material that matches the damaged spot.
    Headliner: Gently scrape fibers until you have enough to cover the hole.
    Seat: Cut a piece of material the size of the hole and shape to fit.
  3. Apply a thin layer of fabric glue inside and to the edges of the hole.
  4. Press the fibers or material over the hole and gentle press and smooth the edges until it is flush with the hole.
  5. Allow to dry overnight.
Kids often spill drinks and lose crayons under the seats.
Kids often spill drinks and lose crayons under the seats.

Foggy Headlights

If your car’s headlights look scuffed, try cleaning them with toothpaste. Oxidation and micro-scarring, which cause the “foggy” look, builds up much like plaque on your teeth. Or try scrubbing (gently) with baking soda and the vinegar cleaner.

Planning for Prevention

Preventing mistakes that spell (and smell) disaster for your car starts with planning and organization. After all your hard work, try these tricks to avoid having to take care of those messes twice.

  • We’ve previously recommended making a trash container from a Tupperware. There’s no better way to prevent stains than having a place to put the mess before it gets on your car.
  • To keep drinks from leaking and catch spills, create your own sponge coasters for cup holders.
  • Most shower caddies can fit between the seats of your car. Use them to hold toys, books, and crayons, or as food holders to keep kids neat when eating on the go.
  • Pencil cases and other zippered pouches, such as reusable snack bags, make great places to store art supplies, such as crayons that love to roll under seats and melt in the summer. Attach a carabineer to clip them together and hook onto a convenient  spot. iheartorganizing blog provides excellent details on how to do so, although she uses pouches designed for that purpose.
  • Hang shoe organizers from the backs of seats to create places to store stuff. From sunscreen to squeezable yogurt, having somewhere to stick things will keep them from oozing all over.

Sheet the Seat

For an extra level of protection, seat covers work wonders. You can buy covers for all your seats, from decorative to spill-resistant, or simply make your own. Use an old fixed sheet to completely cover your back seat. It may take some crawling around, but you should be able to tuck the ends into the spaces between and behind the seats for a snug fit. (Note: Check manufacturer and safety restrictions before putting anything under or on a child’s car seat).

Namaste to Trunk Stains

Protect your trunk from leaky grocery bags and dirty sports clothes by cutting up yoga mats to fit the interior. The foam is easy to cut to size and once fitted, the natural springiness of the material will hold it in place. Note: Use new mats, as old ones tend to release their sweaty memories when your car heats up.

Fool-Proof WD-40

Finally, if you have a problem you can’t seem to fix, remember the adage, “Life’s problems can be solved with two things, duct tape and WD40. If it moves and it shouldn’t, you need duct tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, you need WD40.” WD-40 claims to have over 2,000 applications, including stain removal.

Got your own car quick-fixes for fooling the eyes or protecting your car’s insides? Include them in the comments or post them to our Facebook or Google+ pages.

Happy April Fools’ Day!


  • gogrowgo

    Thank you for sharing our tips of the yoga mat 🙂

    • Rachel Ritter

      @gogrowgo:disqus : You’re welcome! Thanks for the helpful idea!