7 Car Cleaning Tips From the Professionals

  1.       Wash at the Right Time

Avoid washing and waxing your car either in direct sunlight or extreme heat. If it is hot, water will evaporate fast and leave grimy residues before you even have the opportunity to wipe them off. Dark-colored cars usually absorb so much heat that they can become hot to the touch, which not only burns your fingers but also may affect some chemicals used for car valeting.

  1.       Get Rid of Rubbish

Clean the inside before cleaning the exterior. Start by getting rid of any obvious rubbish from the glovebox, door bins, ashtrays, along other interior storage spaces. Don’t forget to check under the seats for mislaid currency, missing glasses, and candy wrappers.

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If you use seat mats, take them out to clean them separately. Buy branded Mini cars mats. A quick dusting down is usually not enough, so if they are rubber, use warm soapy water to wash them. If you use carpet mats, you may consider running them through your washing machine, but only after checking the instructions.

  1.       Vacuum

You can now vacuum up all the grit and dust, but you must first loosen it up or move it out into the open where the nozzle is able to reach it. So, loosen any dirt in the carpets or upholstery using a stiff brush.

If you own a pet, you are probably all too familiar with how challenging shifting pet hairs can be, so try using a moistened rubber glove or wrap sticky tape around your hand with the sticky side facing upwards.

Finally, you can use a canister of compressed air to blow dust and grit out of the nooks and crannies that are impossible to reach with a brush or vacuum cleaner nozzle.

  1.       Dash and Instruments

The interior is still not quite done yet. The dash and instruments also collect a lot of dust. However, they are more delicate, which is why only a damp cloth should be used on the dash as well as controls. You can buy dash and upholstery cleaning products specifically designed for this. Finally, you can use a soft paintbrush to flick out dust from the rims of the instrument dials.

You shouldn’t be tempted to add some shine using a silicone spray – a shiny dash usually creates a horrible glare and any overspray that reaches the pedals can make them slippery, thus posing a serious hazard.

  1.       Easily Missed Spots

With all your doors open, fetch a bucket and clean the door openings and sills. It is usually easy to overlook these during a regular wash, but they, unfortunately, stick out like a sore thumb after you later open the door.

  1.       Washing Is a Science

You will come across a lot of advice about the best way to wash a car. Some will suggest that you first use plain water to wash the car to get the worst dirt off. It isn’t a bad idea if you have an especially dirty car, and it will lower the risk of later rubbing some grit into your car’s paintwork.

Now use a proper car wash solution to clean your car. Avoid using household detergent since it will strip away any protective layer of wax on the paint.

Start from the roof, then work your way down the sides, front, and rear of the car. It will give the car wash solution a bit more time to soak into the grimiest areas close to the bottom and means that the water will stay cleaner for longer.

Be careful that your bucket doesn’t collect grit. You can buy grit guards to fit in the base (plastic grid that prevents your sponge from reaching the bucket’s bottom). Otherwise, you can simply watch the color of the water or feel any grittiness in the bucket’s base while rinsing out the sponge.

If you aren’t too sure, get a different bucket to wash your car rather than risk rubbing grit into the paint. If you have some stubborn spots, avoid simply rubbing away since you risk damaging the paint. A better idea would be to use a tar and bug remover spray.

If there’s any dirt that seems to be bonded into the paint, you can always use a clay bar to remove it. However, ensure that you carefully read the instructions since it is professional valeting territory.

  1.       Waxing

Waxing isn’t mandatory whenever you wash your car. Certain car shampoos contain wax too, but most detailing/valet experts recommend waxing the car properly 2 to 4 times annually. If you use the proper car wash solution, it is possible to preserve any existing wax layer.

You need to rinse off the car prior to waxing and let it dry. Avoid leaving water to ‘puddle’ and dry naturally since this usually leaves some residue, even when the water appears clean.

A better idea would be to use silicone squeegee or chamois leather. These are not designed to dry the surface on contact – instead, they help spread out the water into a thin layer that evaporates more cleanly and quickly. If any puddles of water are observed, compressed air can be used to blow away the water.

Now, apply the wax, following the manufacturers’ instructions carefully. Apply the wax in straight lines without buffing the paint surface in circles. Finally, allow it to dry before you polish it off. A microfiber cloth is ideal for this.

Avoid using more wax than advised in the instructions. It will not make the car any shinier, but it will make it more likely to become trapped in fittings and seams where it will dry, appear messy, and be difficult to shift later.

Valeting professionals will sometimes wax the car twice, and there is a clever test for checking the depth of the shine. All you need to do is place a rule perpendicular to the surface and see just how many numbers you are able to read off in the reflection. The more the number that you are able to see, the better the shine.