Thanks to Covid, our cars have probably not been used as much lately. Just because they may have been sitting in our garages, they're still out there gathering dust and could probably use a bit of TLC. Many of us are looking forward to fall, and sometimes that includes a bit of fall cleaning. Don't forget about your car's interior. Have you ever noticed that it *seems* our cars drive better when they're clean? It may be all in my head, but it seems that way. ;)

Remember, keeping your car clean is also good for protecting its resale value, in case you may be considering that, too. If you're saving money, doing it yourself can help. If it's been awhile, here's a quick guide from the car experts at Consumer Reports to help you knock it out:

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Take extra care of those touch screens. These are becoming common in all newer vehicles. As much as we love them, they're also prone to become spotted with our fingerprints which attract dust. Lovely. Make sure you have the right cleaners for these--which are different from glass. Microfiber cloths are perfect for this. Dampen it with a bit of isopropyl alcohol and gently rub.

The windshield, both inside and out, is better cleaned with a soft cloth--a chamois if you have one--with an alcohol-containing glass cleaner. Experts recommend using two cloths if you want to avoid the dreaded streaking. Apply with one, wipe with the other. Definitely keep the cleaner AWAY from your upholstery. CR recommends spraying the cloth--NOT the glass.

Clean leather and vinyl seats using a very small amount of gentle (or saddle) soap and water. If your seats are leather, follow up with a conditioner so that beautiful leather doesn't dry out. Definitely keep away from any cleaners with bleach or peroxide.

Often the strange smells in our vehicles are due to old spills and crumbs that have been festering for months. You'll want to vacuum your carpet and seats thoroughly--with special attachments, if you have them--like the crevice tool. If you have one, steam cleaning the carpets is quite effective. Otherwise, gentle soap and water on a soft cloth will do. DON'T soak it though--that leads to an even worse moldy smell.

Any other hard surfaces in your car are best cleaned using something containing "at least 70 percent alcohol," according to Consumer Reports experts. Not to mention, the CDC says they're good for killing any remnants of the Coronavirus, too. Use a soft cloth. Don't use paper towels. Simply dampen a soft-bristled toothbrush (or paintbrush) for the vents and other hard to get to places.

Your car will thank you, and so will your pocketbook.

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