How to keep your car clean on a road trip

It’s road trip season! To keep the good times rolling, follow these car care tips to keep your car clean for you and your passengers to enjoy all vacation long.

how to keep your car clean on a road trip - Comment garder votre voiture propre lors d’une escapade routière

Before you go

Before you load up, carve out some time for car care to give your ride a thorough cleaning and maintenance checkup, inside and out.


Start your pre-road trip routine with a thorough car wash. Starting from the top and working down, be sure to completely coat your car in car shampoo before rinsing it off and letting it fully dry. If it’s time for a wax, you can apply one to seal in your work. You can also get your car professionally washed and waxed for extra confidence in its cleanliness.

(Do check local bylaws about washing your vehicle on your property. Some jurisdictions prohibit it outright. Others may prohibit actions related to car washing, for example, allowing run-off from your vehicle to flow into the sewer system. If that’s the case, use a self-service car wash instead.)

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Next, grab your tire pressure gauge and confirm that your tires are correctly inflated. If they need some air, use a tire inflator. Remember to check your spare too!

Summer weather means bugs everywhere, including on your windshield. Don’t forget to top up your windshield wiper fluid with one that’s designed to clear away bug stains.

If you notice any warning signs on your dashboard, resolve them before your trip. You can find advice for doing DIY repairs on our blog.

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Once you’re happy with the exterior, it’s time to move on to the interior. Grab a vacuum to pick up any crumbs and debris. A multi-purpose cleaner and wipes will help you remove any marks. Remember to use the right products for the surface you’re working on (i.e., leather, vinyl, etc.)

If you’re going somewhere muddy, lay down some floor mats. Seat covers may also be worthwhile. You can help keep things organized with packing cubes and storage bins so you don’t end up rummaging through your cabin on the side of the road every time you need something.

Remember, now is the time to check that essential features like your air conditioning system are working properly before you spend several days driving in the sun. Although it may seem like a hassle to do a full diagnostic check, it would be much more of a nuisance for your trip to be interrupted by a preventable issue.

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During your trip

During your trip, do your best to maintain the previous car care you did – without sacrificing too much of the time you’ve reserved for fun!


You likely won’t need to give your car a wash during your trip (unless you’re travelling for more than three weeks), but you’ll want to keep your windows clean to maximize your view. Aside from windshield wiper fluid and window cleaner, keep a microfibre cloth in your car to tackle little stains on your car’s exterior throughout your journey so you have less to manage when you return home.

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It’s always wise to keep cleaning products in your vehicle for on-the-go maintenance, especially when you’re going to be spending so much time in it during a trip.

Pick up a portable vacuum and stock up on multi-purpose cleaning wipes, air freshener, and some plastic bags to collect garbage. Empty your garbage at the end of each day so you can control how much piles up.

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Staying safe

Road trips can be unpredictable. To manage unexpected surprises, be sure to pack an emergency kit in your trunk. This should include:

If you can’t resolve a situation on your own, don’t be afraid to call roadside assistance and/or emergency services.

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For any car care questions or help in maintaining or repairing any part of your vehicle for your road trip, visit a NAPA Auto Parts store to speak with an expert.

Happy travels!

Planning a road trip this summer? Follow these tips to keep your car clean so you can focus on making memories.

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