Washing your car seems simple enough. Give it a vacuum, scrub on some soap, and rinse it off with your garden hose. But there are a few car cleaning tips to help you clean your car as well as a professional detailing – and for a lot less money.
It’s best to start from the inside and work your way out, so here’s our best advice for getting the inside and outside of your car as clean as the day it drove off the lot.
1. Give carpets and upholstery a thorough vacuuming to remove dirt, hair, and debris. To get an even deeper clean, scrub them with a stiff brush and give them another vacuum. Don’t get too aggressive scrubbing your carpets though, because they could easily become frayed or damaged.
2. Before you get start wiping anything down, it’s best to do a patch test of cleaners first because your vehicle’s interior can be sensitive and react poorly to cleaners. Wipe a little bit of product in a hard to see spot and wait for a reaction. If nothing happens, you’re good to go. Only use a cleaner that is approved for your car’s interior.
3. Dust and debris love to hide out in heating and conditioning systems, especially the ducts. An air compressor is the best solution for blasting out the ducts and keeping your car smelling fresh and your sinuses clear.
4. Don’t forget to clean windows and buff from the inside, too. Use a non-ammonia based solution.
5. Wipe down dashboards with a damp cloth and a diluted cleaner if needed. Wipe down the rest of the interior, including seatbelts, doors, and headrests. Use a paintbrush or toothbrush to access hard to reach spots
If your interior has some lingering odors, vinegar or a commercial deodorizing product, like Febreze, can go a long way in removing them.
1. When it comes to cleaning the exterior of your car, start at the top and work your way down.
2. Don’t use dish soap to clean your car. It can strip wax coatings and leave your vehicle vulnerable to scratches and nicks. Use a proper carwash solution.
3. It takes a little longer, but it’s worth the effort to handwash. We’ve all been through automatic car washes that leave patches of dirt on our car, and washing at home is no different. It takes a little elbow grease to get things in top shape. For best results, use a soft cleaning mitt or sponge.
4. Before you start washing the paint, pre-soak your car to help loosen up dirt.
5. Don’t double dip dirty sponges. Keep your sponges clean and rinse them off before dipping them back into the soapy bucket.
Think you’re done rinsing? Rinse more! Rinse well past when you think you’re done rinsing
6. To get the best finish, dry your car with a squeegee.
7. Use a separate cloth or sponge for the tires. Tires hold debris that could scratch your paint. Use a non-acid base cleaner and a degreaser on your wheels.
8. If there’s still dirt on your car, spot clean either chemically or physically (or both, for the most stubborn bird poo). Look for a paint cleaner or rub a paint-cleaning clay lubricant with liquid cleaner over the tough spots.
9. At the very end, clean the windows with an ammonia-free glass cleaner, then buff them with microfiber cloth. Don’t forget to roll them down a bit to clean the top.
10. Finish it all off with a wax. Over time, your vehicle’s original wax will wear off. Wax is important to protect your car from the sun, stains, and bumps and scratches. Look for a liquid or paste wax, and for a pro-like finish use two coats. It’s best to wax every season for optimal protection.