We live in a life hack culture. And some helpful videos online show smart ways to clean and maintain our cars. However, a recent car cleaning hack on TikTok could pose a problem.
This car cleaning hack might be worth avoiding. While it might be a fun and easy way to clean the nooks and crannies of your car’s cockpit, you also risk damaging fibers and finishes. Before trying this DIY car cleaning trick, heed these warnings.
You should probably avoid the TikTok car cleaning hack
Tip requires clear Elmer glue and liquid Tide cleaner. TikTok users Fer and Mau suggest mixing a few tablespoons of each in your car’s cup holder. The mixture eventually turns into a quasi-solid, squishy blob. Then roll or stretch the rubber nugget over the various surfaces of your car’s interior, including the dashboard, console, steering wheel and door panels.
TikTokers are touting Elmer’s Tide Goo’s ability to collect dust, dirt, and grime. And what makes it a so-called auto-hack is how easy it is to get into hard-to-reach corners and crevices that traditional towels and rags can’t reach.
Unfortunately, the concoction could end up doing more harm than good.
Why is this cleaning hack a bad idea?
To understand cleaning products and the surfaces they are designed to clean, you need to get a little scientific. The pH properties of a cleaning product are important, especially when it comes to alkalinity.
As Cleanfax points out, some protein fibers, such as silk or wool, can tolerate mild acids. Cellulose tolerates some alkali. But too many bases and acids destroy certain fibers. And if it doesn’t ruin the fiber itself, it can have nasty effects on dyes or dyes in those fibers.
Translation? The ingredients in Tide and Elmer’s glue can damage the interior of your car. And it’s not just Tide. Most detergents are alkaline and can dissolve paintwork on your vehicle if not properly diluted.
And in general, it’s best not to use bleach, furniture cleaners, waxes, or silicone-based products on leather surfaces.
Which products are safe for car interiors?
First, it’s best to keep a selection of towels and cloths that are safe for leather, plastics and other interior components, explains Protect My Car. These include a microfiber cloth, cotton cloth, Lysol cloths, and leather cleaning cloths. Also, cleaning and spraying your car’s cabin air filter with some disinfectant can help reduce the dust and dirt being blown into your vehicle.
When it comes to cleaning your steering wheel — which is a good idea, since How Stuff Works says the steering wheel is over six times dirtier than the average phone screen — stick with Lysol wipes. Removing stains can take a little elbow grease and a lot of patience. But you can also mix lemon juice with cream of tartar for tough spots if you still need an auto hack.
Other safe and reliable cleaning products include distilled water, castile soap, and liquid dish soap. For more delicate surfaces such as leather and suede, it is best to use specific conditioners and cleaners to maintain a clean, soft and supple look and feel. There are also high-quality cleaning gels for sensitive car surfaces.
Sure, taking care of your vehicle’s interior seems easier with the occasional car cleaning hack. But watch out for the chemicals you use; Otherwise you could ruin the interior of your car.
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