You just bought a new car. Now you want to keep it in pristine condition, right? There’s no better way to do just that than a bi-monthly wash – inside and out. Although most gas station car washes clean away surface grime, good ol’ fashioned hand washes will give your car the TLC it deserves. Try some of these professional car cleaning tips and tricks to keep your car looking, feeling, and driving like new.
Whatever you do, don’t use dishwashing liquid on the exterior of your vehicle. Find the right soap. Dishwashing liquid degreases the surface of your car, but it also sucks oil out of the paint. If you use only dishwashing soap to clean your car, the paint will eventually break down and start to rust. Try a vehicle cleaner instead.
Vehicle cleaners are formulated to remove dirt and grease while protecting paint. Fill two buckets with warm water. Add vehicle cleaner to one of the buckets. Place a wash mitt (available at auto parts stores) on your hand and dip it into the soapy water. Wash your car with the soap suds and then rinse the mitt in the water bucket. Repeat until you’ve covered the surface of your vehicle with suds.
Rinse all the suds off of your car with clean hose water. If you let the suds sit on your vehicle for longer than a few minutes, the suds will collect dust and grime and your car will end up dirtier than when you started.
Clay-bar your car to pluck out embedded grit and grime. You can find clay bar kits (a package containing lubricating spray and synthetic clay) at most auto parts stores. First, spray the surface of your car with lubricating spray. Next, use a small section of flattened synthetic clay and rub it over the surface in a circular motion. Knead the clay until it turns gray. Once it turns gray, throw that piece away and then continue to clay-bar the rest of your car.
Polish buffs the finish of your car and allows it to shine. Pros never skip polishing. Although a polisher is pricey, it’s worth it. First, smear some polish onto a polisher pad. Next, run the polisher over the entire surface of your vehicle. Start slow and build momentum as you see fit.
Wax adds a glossy finish to any car (different from polish) and protects the surface from harsh elements. Find synthetic wax at your local auto shop store. Apply the wax to a foam pad and rub it onto the surface of your car in a circular motion. After you’ve applied wax, wipe any remnants off with a microfibre cloth.
After you’ve washed, rinsed, plucked, polished, and waxed your vehicle, focus on the inside. Buy or rent a vacuum and suck up any dust on your dashboard, in the door panels, or on the steering wheel. Dust also collects in vents. Use a small brush to sweep the dust out of the vents and then vacuum it away.
Once you finish vacuuming up dust, turn your attention to the floors and seats. Use your vacuum to suck up any trash, food particles, or grime found on the floors and seats. Dust settles into carpet fibres—pay attention to every surface inside your car to ensure you get a squeaky clean finish.
Does your car have leather upholstery? Purchase a leather-cleaning kit and rub it on any spills. Let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe it clean with a cloth. Let it dry and then apply leather protection cream.
Wash the windows on the interior of your car with cleaning spray (try Windex) and a clean cloth. Roll the windows half way down and make sure you clean the top of the window as well.
After you’ve vacuumed all the grime away, deep-clean the carpets and upholstery in your car. Try one of the following:
- Rent (or buy) a carpet cleaning machine from a local rental center.
- Use spray-on cleaner and a scrub brush.
If you deep clean your car, your carpets will last a lot longer and you’ll avoid having to dish out money for professional carpet cleaning services.
Cars collect scents. Keep your car scent-free with one of the following:
- Odor-eliminating spray (Febreze Auto is available at most supermarkets or auto shop stores)
- Car air freshener
- Potpourri (place it in the cup holder)
- Perfume (spray your favorite scent into the air vents)
If you smoke, buy a freshener that neutralizes tobacco smoke and spray it on your seats and floor, as well as in the door panels and air vents.
Show your car a little bit of bi-monthly TLC with these 11 tips. If you do, your car will stay in pristine condition for years to come.
Although caring for your car is very important to keep it lasting for many years, it is important to practice safe driving to avoid damage to your vehicle. North Shore Driving School offers driving lessons at our driving school in North Vancouver for all levels.