Weather Forecast


Gert’s Dirt: Clean cars, safe travels

From Donna Bellino

Planning any road trips this summer? Our cars become a living room, dining room, playroom and bedroom when we are on the go. Here are some tips for keeping your car clean and orderly.

• Start by completely cleaning your vehicle. Sort through the glove box, replacing expired proof- of- insurance cards with current ones. Place the cards in a zip-lock bag along with vehicle registration and maintenance information. Return the bag to the glove box with the owner’s manual. That way, all of your necessary documents are handy and you can quickly and easily trouble-shoot car problems if they occur.

• Next, tackle the junk in your trunk and make sure you’re prepared for emergencies. Suggested items to keep in your trunk include: drinking water, first aid kit, flashlight, warm jacket, rain poncho, tarp, 50 feet of thin rope and $30 cash in ones and fives. In the winter you will want to add a warm coat, boots, snow pants, gloves and thick socks to your trunk. I also carry a small amount of kitty litter or sand to help me gain traction if I’m stuck in slippery conditions.

• Finish cleaning the interior of your vehicle by vacuuming the seats and floor, washing the windows, and wiping down the dash, steering wheel and doors. Ahhhh! Isn’t that better?

• Washing your car by hand is the best. Car washes are fine, too, if you don’t have time or facilities to hand-wash. If you do hand-wash, use only a very small amount of soap and rinse your vehicle well. If you wax your car, even occasionally, you will find that it is easier to keep clean. For example, bugs wash off with minimal scrubbing after a wax. There are wax products now that spray on like furniture polish and are very easy to apply, but it’s important to avoid wiping off a dry car; it will scratch the paint.

So now that you have a clean car, how do you keep the clutter from taking over again? Here are some suggestions.

• Have a plan for the garbage. I have deep wells in the doors where I place garbage until I can deposit it into a gas station garbage can. Some folks like a bag, but I’ve never been able to find a suitable spot to hang a bag. Plus, a bag tends to spill if it is not hung up somewhere. My suggestion is to use a small garbage can in the vehicle, but do whatever works for you. The most important thing is to have a place to put garbage and to use it instead of tossing it on the floor or stowing it under the seats.

• To keep muddy paws and pet hair from making a mess, place a towel or plastic tablecloth under the car seat and where Fido likes to sit for a car ride. Use the towel for drying your damp dog and the table cloth to keep water, mud, grass and sand from staining upholstery.

• You may consider keeping a roller brush or velvet lint remover in a compartment in your car and how about a supply of wet wipes for sticky hands and faces?

• It’s a good idea to empty the floor mats of sand between cleanings, and you can reduce the amount of dirt and gravel tracked into the car by getting into the habit of tapping your shoes off before getting in. In the winter, you may also place an old towel on the floor to soak up the slush and mud from shoes. Just don’t allow it to get too close to the clutch, gas or brake pedals. When the towel gets dirty, pop it into the washer.

• Clean up spills right away. If you don’t, they may become permanent stains. Spills can look bad and give off offensive odors.

• Never smoke or let anyone else smoke in your car. It is probably not a good idea to eat in the car either. Smoking is unhealthy for you and your passengers and both smoking and eating distract you from the important job of safely driving your car.

• Every time you leave your car, look for things that can be taken into the house or thrown away. Even small items can be dangerous under some circumstances. For example, unsecured items in your car can become projectile missiles in a crash. At 55 mph, a 20 pound object strikes with 1,000 pounds of force. Even a child’s sippy cup can cause a serious head injury, so please be aware of tools, loose cans of soda and any other objects that can cause injury during a crash.

• Of course, the easiest way to keep your car from getting dirty is to clean it and keep it clean!

I hope these tips will help you have a tidy and safe summer vacation season.

Donna Bellino is a Registered Nurse and owner of Gertie’s Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health, and your home. Gertie’s: Naturally Clean!

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141