Whether for professional, personal or financial reasons, the appearance of your vehicle is an important, often over-looked aspect of an enjoyable driving experience. Frankly, a good-looking car makes you feel better – you have more confidence, feel more comfortable with others in your space and even your mood improves. Behavioral studies have long established what many of us experience every day – that our surroundings dramatically affect how we feel, our productivity and even our mental well being. In fact, our surroundings affect our health in important ways, both physically and psychologically, and a cleaner environment typically equates to better organized thoughts, easier practical functionality, greater safety and fewer distractions. On top of this, the care you take of your vehicle’s appearance speaks volumes to the people you come in contact with: A better kept, cleaner appearance indicates competence, good personal stewardship and diligence with the day-to-day tasks necessary for success. These are attractive qualities to peers and clients alike, and may affect your life in unexpected, less quantifiable ways. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the practical benefits of basic maintenance and the value to your person and the better health and greater happiness that comes with a cleaner driving environment and a better professional and personal appearance.
The interior air quality of your car is important: The average driver spends about 101 minutes in their car every day, the equivalent of about 25 full days every year. As a matter of principle, the fewer chemicals you come in contact with, the happier your biology is. So use low-VOC, non-carcinogenic and preferably non-toxic cleaning supplies, and if you are having your car professionally cleaned, take the time to find the shop that uses better environmental practices themselves. These shops are more likely to have options for chemically-sensitive people, and whether or not you are yourself sensitive to the smells or affects of chemical-laden air fresheners, glass cleaners or fabric / leather / surface cleaners, the plain truth is, the combined affect these cleaners have on your body are very real, and someone riding with you, be it your child, a client or a friend, is likely to have such sensitivity, and the fewer chemicals in your living environment is better for everyone. Your better practice and more conscientious approach will bear reward.
Practically speaking, the steps of quality car care are pretty easy, and with some basic preparations can take very little real time. With a few good habits, a little well-allotted time and some practice, you can have all the benefits mentioned above and more, with relative ease. First, keep a bag in your car for trash and keep it readily accessible. Having all your trash in one place makes it easy to toss out at the gas pump, or when you pull into the garage. Make it a habit to take out the trash and replace the bag and your 70% there. Second, keep two spray bottles in your car: One with water in it, the other with either glass cleaner or a Simple Green kind of cleaner in it. Keep two or three clean cloths ready, and know where the most convenient, drive-through DIY cleaning station is. Almost all basic maintenance can be accomplished with these: Clean smudges from windows every 10 days or so, and while you’re at it, spray down the dust from the surfaces you use the most.
Otherwise, every once in a while drive to the nearest DIY car care station, open all your doors, the trunk too, take out your floor mats if you want to be thorough, put your quarters in the vacuum machine and run a quick vacuum to remove all the dirt and other detritus that has accumulated – it really is that simple, and for most people that is enough. Professional detail shops are great for the exterior scuffs and scratches that are hard to handle at home, and for shining up the exterior as it dulls with normal wear and tear. They also have the extractors and shampooing equipment needed for cleaning the spills and stains that cannot be done with a basic vacuum and cleaner – remember to tell them you will have chemically-sensitive people in your car, and especially mention children and clients. A professional shop will know what to do, and you will be happier with the results.
Being consistent is the key, and as you experience the rewards of your efforts, you will become accustomed to the habits and more efficient at the process until it becomes second nature to you. Enjoy the experience!
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