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A woman's perspective of living with and loving a Mercedes-Benz Maniac

Authored by our own Bonnie Fancy.

Reprinted with permission from The Star Magazine. May / June 2009.

When spring comes it's time to wash windows and clean carpets and upholstery. In short it's time for spring cleaning. No, I don't mean the house; I mean the car. For the Mercedes Maniac spring is a time to open the garage, back the Benz out and prepare it for the summer. This usually takes a week and a half, taking time out now and again to go to work, attend club events and read The Star.

With all the similarities, you would think some of the same methods used in spring cleaning a house will work in spring cleaning a car. Not necessarily, but I can think of a few that will work in either case. None of these ideas is original; I'll steal ideas from anyone. Most of them are less expensive and more environmentally friendly than some of the methods currently in use for spring cleaning cars.

I recently saw a demonstration of how to get pet hair off a couch, and I tried it in my car. It worked better than most things, including the shop vac. Take a damp dry chamois and wipe the seats, always going in the same direction. The hair will gather in a clump that is easy to pick up. This is a bit time consuming, but it works, and it doesn't involve anything toxic. Designate one chamois to this purpose; otherwise you could end up with pet hair on the exterior of the car or in your wash bucket. You could also use this method on carpet. I've used it on my front stairs and it works just fine.

There is a company that offers a pet hair removal system. It's a disposable pad with little teeth on it. The pad fits on a special holder and is said to remove pet hair from even the smallest areas on the couch. The problem is the pads are disposable, filling landfills and other places. A chamois is reusable.

The only other thing to do is to banish pets from the car, or teach them how to vacuum. I have tried the latter, and the dog just whined something about having no opposable thumbs.

A sculptor I met told me the best way to dust a sculpture or anything with nooks and crannies is to use a soft paint brush. This will also work on dashboards and other intricate parts of the interior. Another plus is that the brush won't leave lint which some cloths will. For really small areas like around the radio dials, a small to medium water color brush will work. DO NOT under any circumstance go into your spouse's paint kit and steal one of the good camel hair brushes that are there. Even the most tolerant spouse will consider that completely unforgivable. It would be like using your good chamois to clean soap scum off the shower. To remove dust from even smaller areas, a small container of compressed air, such as those used to blow dust off camera lenses will work. Just don't take the one out of the camera case.

I found out that using ¼ to ½ cup of white vinegar in a dishpan of water is a good final rinse for glassware. The glass comes out shiny and streak free. I haven't tried it on car windows, yet, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. White vinegar is very inexpensive and can be bought by the gallon, so there is no need to deplete the supply in the kitchen.

I understand that coffee filters do an excellent job of polishing windows. Coffee filters are lint-free so they'll leave windows sparkling. They can be bought by the thousand pack at the dollar store. I don't know how coffee filters will stand up to car wax, but it might be worth a try. If it works, then you can relegate your chamois to removing dog hair from upholstery. However, you will also be filling landfills with an abundance of coffee filters. Your spouse may also have plans for those coffee filters; something along the lines of making coffee comes to mind, so check first to see if they are available.

I have also heard, though I have never tried it that Bon Ami if used gently will polish car windows to concours standards. I stress “gently” because any powder, regardless of manufacturer's claims is somewhat abrasive and could scratch the surface. In the case of car windows, especially windshields, not only will scratches reduce the points accrued in a concours, they also present a safety hazard. Light hitting a scratched windshield, refracts and reflects and in general obscures the driver's view of the road. This is not a good thing. Dented cars and drivers don't do well in concours.

One man told me that he starts spring cleaning in the fall by putting the car in the garage and covering it, which is a good thing. It probably helps keep rodents and such out of it. He said in the spring he does a top to bottom exterior wash, engine clean and interior cleaning and conditioning of the leather. Before he polishes or waxes the car he goes over it with paint cleaning clay to remove any contaminants.

I wonder how that would work on a refrigerator. I'll have to check in the garage and see if Ernie has some of that clay. He'll never miss it.