Spring's here! Time to clean out your car!

"The grasshopper raged all winter long
Then the grass returned and she hopped around
But this sudden bliss wouldn't last too long
As she remembered her car needed a good compound."

OK, that may not have been what Jean de La Fontaine wrote in his famous fable, but you probably grasped the analogy: With the joy of spring, melting snow, and longer days comes the unpleasant realization that our vehicles need a thorough cleaning.

Without further ado, here are some spring maintenance tips and advice that will help you take good care of your ride.

The 10 Spring-Cleaning Commandments

No. 1
You shall begin with a vacuum cleaner and a garbage bag

Those little rocks you see on the road during winter inevitably get stuck under your boots and then end up on your car's floor mats. And then there are cookie crumbs your kids leave behind during road trips (or is that you?), as well as crumpled gas bills, and other trash that overfill the door pockets.

So, take a garbage bag and throw away all that clutter laying around inside your car, including under the seats. Next, use a vacuum cleaner to remove dirt, sand, and rocks from the seats, mats, and trunk (ideally in that very order to avoid adding more dirt to your seats!). If your vacuum cleaner isn't powerful enough, go to the nearest gas station and pay a few bucks to finish the job.

No. 2
You shall use microfiber towels to clean the interior

No need to use endless strips of paper towel and gallons of spray cleaner to get rid of dirt and fingerprints inside your vehicle and on your windows. A microfiber towel, hot water or a mixture of water and vinegar can go a long way toward cleaning all those surfaces including door panels and the centre console. Whatever you do, don't use ammonia-based products as they could damage the plastics.

No. 3
You shall get rid of salt on your floor mats

These ugly stains can really ruin your floor mats and carpeting. Fortunately, there's a quick, simple fix: clean the mats with a vinegar-and-water solution, then hang them up on the clothesline and let them dry completely. Scrub the carpeting and let it dry, as well.

No. 4
You shall wash every inch of the exterior

Using your garden hose (ideally connected to a pressure washer), liberally spray the outside of your car to rinse all surfaces including inside the wheel wells and underneath the vehicle, without forgetting the wheels. Keep spraying until the car is completely rid of all traces of mud, salt or other contaminants that could otherwise scratch the paint when you wash the car with a mitt or sponge.

No. 5
You shall use proper soap to wash the body

Forget dishwashing liquid and other detergents as these products can leave deposits behind or even damage your vehicle's finish. It's best to use a product that was specifically designed for car washing. Moreover, under a hot sun soap can dry up and leave traces before you start rinsing the body, so you should wait for a cloudy day and/or until the metal has cooled off to get optimal results.

No. 6
You shall clean from the top down

That seems logical enough: Start with the roof and work your way down to avoid having to do the job over and over again.

No. 7
You shall use water only when the city allows you to

How frustrating would it be to receive a fine simply for washing your car at unauthorized hours?! I know you can't wait for your ride to be clean and shiny again, but be considerate to others who need water, too. You know, city rules and regulations exist for a reason...

No. 8
You shall remove all useless items from the trunk

Shovels and bags of de-icing salt likely won't help you in the middle of July, so take them out of your trunk and store them in the garage or basement until next winter. Ask yourself: Do I really need all the stuff that's in there? This will save you precious cargo room and maybe even a few dollars at the pump due to the reduced weight your car has to carry.

No. 9
You shall give the body a closer inspection

As you clean, check for any spots of rust, scratches, chipped paint or other issues. You can buy a touch-up pen from a local dealer to not only mask these imperfections but also help prevent rust from taking over.

No. 10
You shall take your car in for a tune-up

Oil change, tire rotation, multi-point inspection, etc.: Your favourite car technician can perform a final tune-up to ensure your ride is ready to go this spring.