Sunshine, warm sand, cool blue water—a day at the beach is an easy thing to romanticize. However, reality is often slightly different, especially when it comes time to leave. Here are some tips for how to keep yourselves and your vehicle from suffering undue wear and tear after a beach visit.

Worried About Water

If you plunk yourselves onto the car’s upholstery while still wearing wet bathing suits, you’re increasing the risk of hard-to-clean mold growth in your vehicle. This is particularly true if the weather remains hot and humid. You can alleviate the risk by changing out of your swimming gear and into dry clothes before entering the vehicle. Similarly, make sure you aren’t tracking excess sand into the car. Bring along extra water bottles, douse your feet, and then dry them thoroughly just before getting in. If the beach offers access to running water, you’ll be able to fill the bottles as you’re leaving, instead of lugging them around all day. Finally, you can head off potential issues by lining the floors of your vehicle with sheets, towels, or extra blankets. You can do the same with the upholstery—just make sure the items you’re using are clean and dry.

Footwear Hazards

While you’re probably planning to wear open-toed shoes to the beach, you should pack along a pair of sneakers for the drive home. Keep in mind that sandals or flippers can become stuck underneath the foot pedals of a moving vehicle, so be extra careful. This poses an enormous hazard, especially if the shoe causes the gas pedal to stick to the floor. Similarly, a sandal that’s wedged beneath the brake will make it difficult for you to come to a complete stop. Always make sure you have the proper footwear for driving, no matter what you’ll be doing when you’re outside the car.

Hit the Car Wash

Even if you haven’t actually driven your car across the beach, the exterior may be prone to damage from the sand and the salty air. A quick visit to a drive-through car wash will remove any lingering particles from the finish. Don’t neglect the undercarriage of your vehicle either—this area will rust out quickly if it’s exposed to salt on a regular basis.

Going to the beach can be fun, but it’s important to make sure that you take care of your safety and your car afterward. By following this advice, you can help to keep your beach visits safe and enjoyable for everyone involved.