Joy of Green Cleaning. A bucket will do just as good a job on everything except your undercarriage.• Lose the hose. Yes, it’s fun to spray your hose Rambo-style. It also uses a lot more water than a bucket rinse does, says Leslie Reichert, author of The
• Keep a bottle of glass cleaner and some microfiber towels (12 for $24.50; MicrofiberUSA.com) in your trunk. When you’ve got a few minutes, wipe down your windows and the console.
• Never know where your registration is? Sharon McRill, president of The Betty Brigade concierge company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, suggests leaving a car registration pouch in your glove compartment to protect your car insurance and registration…and make it obvious when they fall out of the glove box. We like the Case Logic Glove Box Organizer ($4.96; QVC.com), which also has three small slots for a tire gauge, flashlight and pen.
• Organize kids toys, coloring books and sippy cups with the Sunshine Kids Travel Pal ($13.99; Target.com) that sits on the seat right next to kids or on the floor.
• You'll have no more cord tangles thanks to the Kangaroo Personal Media Case ($12.99; GreatUsefulStuff.com). Slide GPS, chargers and a half-dozen cords into this small case. Its washable, bright-pink exterior makes it easy to find.
Speed Your Way to Clean
Don’t have time for a full cleaning? Just do the following 5-minute clean, suggests Paul Ponzio, Jr., president of Samaritania, operator of the CVS Samaritan vans as well as various state freeway patrols:
• Speed-wash the wheels and body with a soapy sponge. Rinse.
• Wash the windows from the outside with glass cleaner.
• Dry all with microfiber towels.
Protect Your Car
These four protective products all add to your car's resale value by protecting the paint coat—and provide a 20-minute arm workout.
• Clear Coat Protector: “Clear coat is like putting a hard shell on your car” that protects the paint from salt and rust, says Barbara Terry, a racecar driver and car columnist. “Have you seen a car where the paint looks like it’s peeling? That’s the clear coat peeling off.” Spray on and rub in. It lasts for four years or more.
• Polish: Applied directly to scratches, liquid polish actually uses microscopic abrasives to remove a thin layer of the paint, thus hiding unsightly blemishes. After the car is washed and dried, take a dry rag and apply polishing compound directly to small scratches, which will make them disappear.
• Wax: Available in liquid or paste form, wax adds a protective layer above the clear coat and polish, preventing water and grime from pooling so it wicks right off. A test to see if you need to wax: Next time it rains, if the water beads up into little balls, like water on an oily skillet, your car is fine. If there’s no beading, and the water rolls down the sides in sheets, you need to wax. Always apply wax on a clean car with clean microfiber cloths, so that dirt particles don’t scratch the car.
• Windshield Protector: This is like wax for your windshield, preventing the water from pooling. “Apply it about once a year, and it prevents water from staining the windshield,” says Terry.