Many of us live a significant portion of our lives in the car, so we might as well consider it a mobile living room. Except it’s a living room that comes in constant contact with the germs and grit of the outside world. When considered as an extension of your home, you’d hope it would benefit from the same cleaning routine. But, we know this isn’t always the case.

If it’s been a while since the inside of car has seen a vacuum, there is evidence to suggest that your car may be carrying some unwanted passengers – of the microscopic variety. Freshen up the inside of your ride by trying out some of our clean-car tips below.

Conquer clutter.

It’s difficult to do a deep-clean of your vehicle with a vacuum and scrub brush when clutter is in the way. Clutter not only gives dirt and bacteria more surfaces to live on, but it can be distracting to drivers. And stressful. Removing excess clutter is the very first step to taking pride in your ride.

Resist the road snacks.

We can all appreciate the value of a good car snack. And with your eyes on the road, you may not notice just how many crumbs are getting lost in your car. These crumbs, and yesterday’s half-finished coffee (it’s ok, you don’t have to admit it), fuel the growth of bacteria. If you can’t resist the road snacks, try to minimize the evidence. Remove food wrappers or trash right away, make sure drink containers are spill-proof, and vacuum in the deep cracks and crevices with a thin, telescoping vacuum attachment.

Keep your child seats clean.

Fun fact: those iconic fish-shaped crackers are the number one item found in children’s car seats. On a smaller scale, car seats also carry an average of 100 different types of microscopic passengers. Always check with the car seat manufacturer prior to cleaning, and pick a time when it won’t be needed for 12-24 hours, so it has ample time to dry. Take a picture of the set-up before removing from your vehicle, and rely on the manufacturer’s guide and your picture to be sure the car seat is re-installed correctly.

Let the fresh air in.

When your cabin air filter is dirty or clogged, it actually makes the air quality inside your car worse than the air outside. A dirty filter traps dust, pollen, and exhaust fumes inside your vehicle. What’s more, over time a restricted air filter can cause issues with the vehicle’s HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) system. Ask your dealership or take a look at your owner’s manual to determine how often your cabin air filter should be replaced. Most should function well for 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Make an appointment with your dealership to get a new filter installed.

How do you keep your car fresh and clean? Let us know in the comments below!