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6 car cleaning tips every parent should know

car cleaning tips every parent should know
Car stain removal tips for parentsminiseries - Getty Images

Whether you're heading down to the beach, visiting relatives or going for a weekend away, a car journey can be a great way to spend quality time with the family. What's not so fun is when your kids hop out and the car is a complete tip.

Any parent knows that mess comes with the territory! That's why we've put together this guide to help you get your car clean again in no time.

The GHI’s stain-busting advice

1. Milk

Milk is mainly a protein stain (although cream also contains a certain amount of fat), which means the water you use to clean it up with needs to be cold.

Blot as much liquid as you can with white paper towels or a clean, white, lint-free cloth, then flush with lots of cool water. Spot-treat the affected area with a proprietary carpet cleaner, such as Dr Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover. Follow the instructions. Rinse with cool water and use paper towels to blot dry.

It’s very important to lift as much moisture as possible, or you’ll be left with a foul sour-milk stench! For lingering ‘sour milk’ odours, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over the area and leave for a few hours before vacuuming. If that doesn’t work, a specialised product designed for removing pet smells should do the trick.

car cleaning tips every parent should know
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2. Chocolate

Kids can't get enough of this sweet treat, but it's important to clean a chocolate stain right away or it'll be harder to shift. Blot or gently scrape up deposits using a blunt knife and white paper towels. Then spot-treat the affected area with Dr Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover and gently soak up the stain with white paper towels.

Repeat as necessary, and finish by lightly rinsing with water and blotting again to remove as much moisture as possible.

3. Yoghurt

This is a lunchbox classic, so your kids are bound to eat one in the back of the car at one point or another. If there's a spill, start by scraping up any excess yoghurt. Mix 1tbsp washing-up liquid with two cups of warm water and, using a clean white cloth, sponge the stain with the detergent solution. Blot until the liquid is absorbed. Keep blotting until the stain disappears.

4. Ice cream

If your children's excitement at getting a 99 ice cream has led to a sticky mess, make sure you approach the stain with care as most ice creams contain grease, protein and pigment.

car cleaning tips every parent should know
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Despite this, it’s usually fairly easy to remove. Scrape off as much as possible with a blunt knife, then blot with white paper towels.

Next, spot-treat the affected area with a proprietary cleaner such as Dr Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover following the manufacturer’s instructions (always test first for colour fastness in an inconspicuous area). Rinse with cool water but try not to over-wet the area, and blot to dry.

GHI Tip: Some ice creams are more highly coloured, so if the method above doesn’t work, you may have to treat the stain as per the individual flavour e.g. chocolate or raspberry.

5. Crisps, biscuits, muffins and popcorn

Crumbs are a familiar sight for any parent. A dust pan and brush is your best friend or, for hard-to-reach crumbs, try using a vacuum cleaner. Handheld vacuums are great for cleaning your car, and our experts rated the Shark Classic Handheld Pet Vacuum and the Gtech ProLite MM001 as the joint winners in our latest tests.

Crisps may leave grease-based stains. If so, soak up as much grease as you can with white paper towels. Lightly sprinkle the stain with talc or cornflour, then allow it to stand for a few minutes so that it can absorb the grease, then remove the powder with a soft brush.

Any remaining grease must be dissolved, and for that you’ll need an alcohol-based solvent such as methylated spirits. Gently dab at the stain with the solvent and allow it to evaporate, then work a little liquid detergent into the stained area and leave for a few minutes.

6. Hummus

This healthy snack may end up leaving an oil-based stain. You should start by scraping off as much residue as possible with a blunt knife.

Use either washing up liquid or a solution of washing detergent to clean the stain. Rub in circular motions, don’t over-wet and allow to dry naturally.

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