The Tough Love We Need

This TikTok Grandma's Viral Car Cleaning Tips Are Here To Overhaul Your Messy Mom-Mobile

Is your car one floorboard Starbucks cup away from being a certified disaster zone? Babs is here to help.

Originally Published: 
Open car trunk with personal belongings in mess, outdoor close-up

How many Starbucks cups fell from your car’s back door during drop-off this morning? Even just one is embarrassing. Worse still is when you get to work and realize there’s an unidentifiable orange, crusty circle stain on your thigh from whatever your Hydro flask picked up out of the cupholder. And there’s nothing more annoying than digging through six million drive-through bags, half a dozen melted crayons, and so, so many discarded straws just to find that tiny toddler hoodie you could have sworn was in the backseat (but it isn’t).

Keeping a clean space is hard. Especially when you’re a working mom, constantly on the go. Or a single mom who doesn’t even have someone who can sit on the couch with the kids for a few minutes while you clean out your car. You can keep your home ADHD-friendly... but how can you apply that same magic to the tiny space of a “sensible” hatchback? One grandma is here to help.

Enter TikTok’s BrunchWithBabs, a 73-year-old grandmother who lives in Connecticut and tries to help busy moms by sharing her years of hard-earned wisdom. With a little dedication, a bit of patience, some glue slime, and a stray basket or bin, Babs is convinced that even the flakiest mama can clean her car and keep it clean. And, y’all, Babs is pretty convincing.

Babs’ Clean Car Tips

1. Empty Your Car Every Night

It’s safe to say it: Babs’ very first tip requires quite a bit of commitment and discipline — but you know she’s right. They say it takes 66 days to develop a new habit. Perhaps setting your alarm for a convenient time will encourage you to start running out and emptying your car each night. Two months later, you may not even need that alarm to remind you to clean it.

2. Erase Stubborn Smells

That caramel macchiato you left in your back cupholder for a few days in July? Yeah, it made the whole minivan smell like rotten milk. Babs says, “Don’t worry, just place 1 cup of vinegar in the car overnight in [an] open bowl or cup to absorb mysterious smells.” OK. Will your car smell like vinegar in the morning, though? Inquiring minds need to know.

3. Babs’ Magical Car Gummy Cleaner

There's really very little that's more annoying and disheartening while cleaning than doing all the work to get out the big stuff but still having a car littered with crumbs and gunk. You can get a "special" gummy car cleaner from Amazon. Or you can steal your kids' glitter slime. But at the end of the day, it's basically the same thing as Babs' gummy cleaner... except hers costs a lot less.


  • 1 cup white glue (like Elmer's)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp contact lens solution


Mix all ingredients together until completely combined. Let mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. Then knead the gummy cleaner a bit until it reaches slime-like consistency. Babs mixes her directly in a cup holder, although that's up to you. The gummy cleaner can be used to get crumbs and other small gunk out of cracks and crevices in the interior. When it's all done and full of grossness, just toss it out.

4. Keep A Go-To Bin

As a bonus tip, Babs also suggests keeping a bin of necessities in the trunk. You’ll want a blanket, sweatshirt, umbrella, some cleaning wipes, and maybe even a snack. Plus, if you have littles or a baby, it doesn’t hurt to keep some spare diapers and clothes. Keeping everything in a bin helps it look more organized. Plus, if you know you have it in the bin, you won’t be inclined to convince yourself to leave anything else in your car.

Even More Clean Car Tips

Babs isn't the only one weighing in on how to keep your car looking so fresh and so clean (clean). Every cleaning and organization expert has their own advice that may or may not work for you. A few highlights you'll find circulating online:

  • Condition your leather — and fake leather — using hair conditioner or oil. You can also condition it by simply using a rag and a small dollop of hair conditioner, then wiping it off after. A mixture of ¼ cup of olive oil and ¼ cup of white vinegar will also work.
  • Don't use dish soap to wash your car.
  • Shake out AND vacuum your car mats. No matter how good they look once you shake them out, a quick vacuum will make a big difference.
  • Vacuum the floor under those mats, too.
  • Buff out rub marks and use touch-up paint sparingly. A slightly mismatched paint is better than rust for a lot of reasons. Just don't go overboard when applying it.
  • Try not to eat in your car. Want that hard work to last? Avoid adding mess and crumbs back into the space by getting out of your car to eat.
  • Keep a lint roller in your car. Do you "shed" a lot? Keeping a lint roller on hand to roll over your seats occasionally will help the car seats (and floors!) look a lot cleaner.

Other than that, if you really want to keep your car clean, um, maybe don't have children? Ha, just kidding... sort of. I mean, if your car was dirty before, you know it's only worse now.

This article was originally published on