How to Get the Most Use Out of Automotive Products

Everyone loves a tool that can multitask, from the classic Swiss Army knife to the modern smartphone. These tools save you time, money, and space, and if you have a vehicle, odds are you have some of these products sitting around without even realizing it. Here's some creative ways to use them more effectively.

Tools in a garage

Source | btwashburn/Flickr

Brake Cleaner

Brakleen cans

Brake Cleaner is great at cleaning rotors, calipers, and whatnot of all that gross, sticky brake fluid and baked-on crud. It's also useful in other ways.

  • Clean your windows. Just wear gloves, use sparingly and wipe dry. Then your windows are ready for Rain-X (see below).
  • Remove stains from driveway. Throw down sawdust/cat litter and sweep most of the spilled oil. Get the rest by applying brake cleaner and rubbing with a rag.
  • Kills scary bugs from a distance. If wasps or other nasties are invading your garage, a light spray will instantly knock them down.
  • Find vacuum leaks. Spray on the suspect gasket area and watch for bubbles.


Rain-X products

Rain-X should be the last step of your vehicle's detailing process. When applied to a car's windows, it creates an invisible barrier that sheets off rain. The difference is dramatic, but take your bottle inside for more uses.

  • Apply it to glass shower doors for the same water-sheeting effect. You'll notice less water spots over time, as the water won't be able to dry and leave spots on the glass.
  • While in the bathroom, apply Rain-X to the bathroom mirror. It will keep the mirror from fogging over during hot showers.
  • Speaking of fogging, try Rain-X on your camera's lens. It acts as a cleaner but also prevents fogging caused by changes in humidity and temperature, making for clearer photos.
  • If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, apply Rain-X to your exterior windows. The window will remain snow-free.


Metal polish is a must-have for car collectors, and even if you just like to keep your car spic and span, it's a good product to have around. But your car isn't the only thing in your life that needs its metal polished. Think about all the metal in your house, whether it's stainless steel surfaces, metal door knobs or handles, door hinges, cabinet knobs, even sink and shower faucets. You can use that automotive metal polish on all of the above, and just like the glass cleaner, it might even do a better job than an actual household product, since cars really need high-strength formulas to deal with all the grit and grime.


WD-40's most common use is quieting those creaky hinges, whether on your classic Mustang or your home's front door. While it's great at silencing squeaks, it has a ton of other uses.

  • General purpose machinery penetrating oil, for everything from garage doors to bicycle chains and zippers.
  • Tried on a ring and now it's stuck on your finger? With some WD-40, it should slide right off.
  • Remove black scuff marks from flooring. It's so good at this one, WD-40 could be a dedicated cleaner. It will remove everything, from an old bumper sticker on your car or crayon from walls.
  • Rainproof your gear. The “WD" in WD-40 stands for "water displacement," so when lightly sprayed on a tent or a pair of boots, WD-40 makes your equipment rainproof.

Next time you're in a pinch, take a look around your home and see how you can improvise. You might be surprised at the results. Have any creative tips on applying automotive products outside their intended use? Let us know what you've done, in the comments below.

Last updated May 1, 2020