Car hacks: Drivers warned against TikTok cleaning tips that may damage your vehicle - but one that does work

You may have read that cleaning scratches on your car with toothpaste is effective - but it is really?
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Cleaning and maintaining your car can be a time-consuming hassle, but it’s a must-do chore for any driver, so it’s no surprise that they are turning to popular social media site TikTok to find the quickest hacks for making their motors look shiny. 

There are around 110,000 searches every month on TikTok for 'car cleaning’ and ‘car cleaning products’, according to specialist insurance broker ChoiceQuote, and this has risen 175% over the last 12 months, suggesting drivers are increasingly looking for ways to save time and cut costs when looking after their car.

But ChoiceQuote has found that some of these hacks may actually do more harm than good than good, and could actually then cause you to have to spend even more money sorting out the issues the tips have created.

Toothpaste to remove car mirror scratches - Not effective (1.6 million likes and 19.4k shares)

TikTok creator, @mrryhan, amassed over 1.6million likes in a video where he showed motorists that they can clean their car mirrors with one household item, toothpaste. However, as popular as this hack is for removing scratches on various parts of a car, drivers should be wary if they try it for themselves as toothpaste contains mild abrasives that can scratch the surface and could lead to further deterioration. To avoid causing further damage, drivers should clean their car with a solution made from mild soap and warm water or a specialist car cleaning product for mirrors, cleaning gently in circular motions.

Creating your own slime to clean your car - Effective (183.5k likes and 45.6k shares)

Making your own slime is a cheap and easy way to clean the interior of a car, according to TikTok creator @uniquozwsjl, and it really works. The creator shows that drivers can use slime to easily gather dirt and dust from hard-to-clean areas like the cup holder and steering wheel. Motorists can create their own cleaning slime by mixing glue, baking soda and contact solution. The simple hack is a great method for a quick clean. However, as slime cannot be reused, motorists will need to remake the solution every time they want to use this cleaning method which may not be as effective in the long run.

These car cleaning hacks have gone viral on TikTok - but do they really work? Photos by TikTok.These car cleaning hacks have gone viral on TikTok - but do they really work? Photos by TikTok.
These car cleaning hacks have gone viral on TikTok - but do they really work? Photos by TikTok.

Using beer and baking soda to remove oil stains - Not effective (28.5k likes and 12.3k shares)

Creator @lianggeshuoche advised drivers that if they want a quick and cheap way to remove oil stains from their vehicle, they should use beer and baking soda. The unconventional hack has gained popularity on TikTok, however, this method should be avoided at all costs, judging by the reviews given by those who have tried it. Comments from TikTok users on the viral video warn “please don’t try these” and “recipe to destroy your car”. 

Professionals at ChoiceQuote also warned that beer is not an effective cleaner and baking soda acts as an abrasive which could lead to more damage to the vehicle. In addition, if the mixture is used to clean areas such as headlights and taillights, this could damage the electrical components and lead to safety hazards for drivers. The beer and baking soda combination could also leave a sticky residue which would mean drivers have even more to clean up.

If harder-to-remove oil stains aren’t coming off with specialist car cleaning products, drivers may be best taking their car to a professional car detailer to remove the stain without damaging the paintwork.

Using coconut oil to clean plastic on car - Not effective (21.6k likes and 241 shares)

One proud creator @mrs_tink made a video showing drivers that they can clean the plastic elements on their cars using coconut oil. Using coconut oil will clean stains and make a car shine, as shown in her video, however, ChoiceQuote experts warn that this is not the most suitable car cleaner and could even create problems in the long run. This simple hack might work in the short term, but in time it could lead to damage to the car paint by harming the clear coat layer, making the paintwork look dull or even causing small scratches to spread. When a vehicles’ paintwork is damaged, the car is more likely to rust which could lead to expensive repairs and a shorter lifespan of the vehicle overall.

Car cleaning is a chore that all drivers must carry out. Image by Adobe Photos.Car cleaning is a chore that all drivers must carry out. Image by Adobe Photos.
Car cleaning is a chore that all drivers must carry out. Image by Adobe Photos.

Cleaning car seats with laundry pods - Not effective (620 likes and 81 shares)

A video by creator @cleanfreakpro advises drivers to clear their vehicles and car seats by dissolving a laundry pod into hot water and using a microfibre cloth to wipe surfaces. While this method might seem an easy solution to refresh car seats, laundry pods shouldn’t be used to clean cars, warn ChoiceQuote professionals. This is because laundry pods are designed to clean clothes and contain chemicals that could harm the car’s interiors. Drivers should instead use specialist car upholstery cleaning products if they want to give their seats a spruce as these products are specifically designed to remove any stains without impacting the quality of the fabric.

Car cleaning - how to clean your car effectively

After reading that the majority of these popular TikTok car cleaning hacks actually don’t work, you may be wondering how you can clean your car safely, cheaply and quickly. Here are some tips on how to clean your car effectively and easily that could extend the lifespan of your vehicle and help avoid costly repairs, as advised by ChoiceQuote experts.

  1. Wash your car regularly. Keeping up regular maintenance of your car can make it easier to keep it clean and to spot chipped paint work or scratches before they get worse. 

  2. Use the right products. Use specialised car cleaning products to avoid any potential damages. Household items like laundry pods and coconut oil aren’t the most effective and can make your vehicle more susceptible to damage.

  3. Use microfibre cloths. To avoid any scratches on your vehicle, use microfibre cloths - they are absorbent which means your car will dry quickly.

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