Top tips for keeping your car clean when you have kids

It’s a brutal lesson for the parent who has pride in both their vehicle and their offspring: children and immaculate cars don’t mix. Youngsters are not prejudicial and are happy to create carnage in a stylish saloon, a roomy 4×4, or a nippy little sports car alike that you may have just purchased at Kia Sunderland from Jennings Motor Group. You could ‘drive’ yourself mad if you obsessed about every surface and square inch of the vehicle, so sacrifices might have to be made.

Most packets and wrappers will only end up on the floor if there’s nowhere to put them, so always have a plastic or drawstring bag in the back of the front seats. Each child should have one bag which is their own responsibility, and this must be emptied at the end of each week or when it is full – whichever is sooner. Some owners even have a little bin under the seats. Make sure floormats are in place.

There are multiple options for preventing stains on the surface. You could cover the seats with blankets or sheets, which might be the simpler option if you’re going on holiday or somewhere messy.

Researching which cleaner to use for your car seats can be an extensive task – refer to the vehicle manual if you have it. Vacuum away any dry dirt or dust, before applying the cleaner. Stains should be removed as soon as possible as they will become more difficult to dislodge the longer they are left unattended. Stains should be blotted, not scrubbed, as this will be rubbed further into the fabric, while hard-to-reach spots can be reached using an old toothbrush.

Baby car seats will accumulate a spectacular variety of fluids, from vomit to sweat to food to others. The chair should be removed and cleaned every few weeks. Again, remove the dry matter with a brush/vacuum, and if possible take out the fabric covering – some of these can be placed in the washing machine, so take a look at the label. Soapy water will remove mess from the plastic or metal parts easily enough before air-drying. This article on the BabyZone has further tips and advice.

Lingering smells can be trickier to expunge but not impossible. Again, treat any smelly stains as quickly as possible – look for non-toxic cleaners in supermarkets.

Children clamber onto back seats to retrieve items from the back window and it only takes a couple of climbs for the sheet to be dislodged. You could make them remove their shoes, but if this is unsuccessful encourage them to knock their shoes before getting in, especially after walking in mud or snow.

At a certain age children will know that they have to take responsibility for their actions, so the earlier they can learn to remove cartons, wrappers and rubbish the better. That applies to cars, houses, bedrooms, gardens and anywhere else where they create mayhem. ‘Parent coach’ Susan Stiffelman has eight techniques for teaching children to clean up after themselves in this Huffington Post article.

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And then they can move on to helping you wash the car exterior…


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