It's Time to Clean Up after Winter

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), March 26, 2004 | Go to article overview

It's Time to Clean Up after Winter


There is little doubt that your car's cabin will need plenty of TLC after a hard winter, being subjected to muddy shoes, wet clothes and more than a little ice and snow.

Plastic areas such as the dashboard or door panels are usually the first to show the tell-tale signs, particularly if you regularly transport children or animals.

Add in a few meals on the move, and you can guarantee that the plastic trim will be a mess of finger marks, grease stains and those tacky patches left in the wake of sweets and fizzy drinks. And before you blame it all on the youngsters, just look to see where the most grime has built up. More often than not it is around the driver's seat.

Of course, you do not even have to drive the vehicle to get it dirty, as dust in the air will settle and leave an ugly film on all surfaces. Meanwhile, grime on car upholstery tends to creep up on you, and often goes unnoticed until you compare the fabric colour on the heavily-used driver's seat with that on the rear bench. And, naturally, cloth seats are easy prey for spilt drinks and food.

The good news is that after a few minutes' work with a decent cleaner, you can remove an entire winter's grime and restore the original colours and shine and your cabin will probably smell a bit better, too.

But which product should you choose? For plastic, there is a choice of those which simply clean and those that aim to both remove the grime and leave a protective shine. In our opinion, the latter often leave too artificial a finish, and in many cases only mask rather than remove stains.

The main choice is between sprays or foams, but you can also go for wipes, which are convenient but relatively-costly pre-impregnated cloths.

These work well on plastic trim but are less effective on fabric, as tough stains usually require some brushing to remove. Sprays and foams rule the roost on upholstery and carpets, with little to choose between the two - although foam products are more effective on these surfaces than in other areas.

Plastic or fabric, it doesn't matter which; what you need is top stain shifting for the least effort. Virtually all these cleaners will work eventually, but we want the one that ensures minimal effort with the cloth or brush.

So we restricted the amount of elbow grease and product used. With the fabric cleaners, we looked for not only general grime removal, but also how well they tackled self-inflicted wounds on a rear seat sourced from the scrapyard, such as chocolate, grease and ballpoint pen. …

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