Natural Cleaner for Car Dashboardsby Joshua Duvauchelle
Because your car dashboard sits right in front of both you and your passengers, it's one of the first places where you may notice dirt, stains and other grimy buildup. You may have noticed that many of the commercially prepared dashboard cleaning products on the market depend on chemicals that may be toxic. Additionally, some of these chemicals may actually harm your dashboard's appearance over the long term — silicone-based cleaners stain some dashboards yellow, for example. All-natural, eco-friendly homemade options can assuage all your worries while keeping your car's appearance in top shape, with each option tailored toward the material out of which your dashboard's made.
Simply dipping a soft rag in clean tap water can sufficiently lift away all but the toughest of grime and dirt on your car's dashboard. It's also gentle enough for all dashboard material types. Start on one end of your dashboard and work your way toward the other side to avoid missing any spots — missed areas of dust and dirt will become exceptionally noticeable once you've cleaned the rest of the dashboard. For spot touch-ups between more thorough detailings, dust the dashboard with a clean, dry rag. For the best results, use microfiber cloths.
Some car dashboards, specifically in mid- to high-end luxury cars, are surfaced with leather. Stay away from dashboard cleaners that contain even "natural" elements such as alcohol, which will dry out the leather, dull its luster and create cracks. Instead, use all-natural Castile soap -- a soap based on olive oil -- and a damp rag to clean leather dashboards and all leather upholstery in your car. To naturally boost your dashboard's glow and shine after cleaning, add a couple of drops of walnut oil or olive oil to a rag and buff the dashboard with it using circular motions.
For vinyl dashboards, any gentle all-purpose cleaner will do. However, some all-purpose cleaners contain harsh ingredients, such as ammonia, that pull the plasticizers out of the vinyl and cause fading or cracks. Instead, make an all-natural, eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner for such dashboards. Combine 1/2 teaspoon of washing soda, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil-based soap, such as Castile soap. Spray the natural cleaner onto the dashboard and wipe it away with a soft cloth.
Some dashboards come with an upholstered, carpet-like covering. Toss this covering into your washing machine for hands-free cleaning. Some laundry detergents contain harsh chemicals or toxins that may end up in your community's waterways. For natural laundry detergent, toss a tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of borax into your washing machine. If the dashboard upholstery has picked up road smells, add a couple drops of essential oil, such as peppermint oil, for an instantly fresher scent.
Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.