Spring Cleaning: Detailing Your CarAs the warm days of spring arrive, it’s the perfect time to get your car ready for road trips and summertime adventures. Between rain, sleet, snow and salt from winter roads, our cars could use some cleaning up both inside and out. One option is to head to a local car wash, but if you’re looking to save money and don’t mind putting in some work, cleaning your car yourself is a great choice. Check out our suggested items for detailing your car as well as steps for a thorough cleaning.
Car Detailing: Cleaning Tools
Before you can give your car a makeover, you’ll need to have supplies ready. While you don’t need to buy the most expensive cleaners on the market, it’s important to buy brushes and cleaners designed for cars if you don’t want to risk damaging the paint or interior.
Exterior Cleaning Supplies: Liquid car wash soap, car wax, a wash mitt, microfiber towels, wheel and tire cleaner, and two plastic buckets. If you want to go one step further, you can also pick up an automotive clay bar to remove extra dirt and debris between the washing and waxing steps.
Interior Cleaning Supplies: Leather and fabric cleaner, interior detailing spray, a vacuum, a soft bristled toothbrush and cotton swabs for cleaning vents and tight areas, extra microfiber towels and glass cleaner.
Detailing the Exterior
Now that you have your supplies on hand, it’s time to get to cleaning. For the best results, avoid cleaning the outside of your car while it’s in direct sunlight or hot to the touch, as this can dry out cleaning products and damage the paint. Below are steps to follow for a detailed exterior clean:
- Pre-Rinse: Start with a thorough rinse to get all the dirt and debris off before you apply cleaner. This will help prevent the paint from getting scratched in the process.
- Clean Up the Wheels: Depending on the wheel cleaner you purchase and how dirty your wheels are, you can either spray on the cleaner and rinse it off, or spray it on and use a brush to remove dirt and mud. Avoid using the same wash mitt you plan to use on the body of the car.
- Wash the Car: Before beginning the washing process, be sure to have two plastic buckets prepared - one with fresh water and one with diluted car soap. As you wash and scrub off any debris, you can dunk your wash mitt into the plain water bucket to avoid contaminating the soap and potentially moving dirt from one area of the car to another.
- Rinse: To prevent the soap from drying, rinse off small sections of the car as you wash it. Then, finish off with one all-over rinse at the end to make sure no spot was missed.
- Dry: Dry the car completely with a microfiber towel to prevent water spots from forming.
- Wax: Wax not only provides a beautiful shine, but also protects the paint. Apply wax to a rag or applicator and slowly buff in a circular motion, removing any excess with a microfiber towel.
Detailing the Interior
Once the outside of your car is clean and shiny, it’s time to deep clean the interior. Working from the outside in will ensure you don’t miss any spots:
- Vacuum: Start with a thorough vacuuming to remove any dried mud, rocks, food crumbs or pet hair. The floor mats will probably need the most attention, but don’t forget about the seats and trunk, too.
- Wash the Floor Mats: Take out your floor mats and give them a deep clean. If you have rubber or plastic mats, a simple rinse may be all that’s needed. If you have carpeted mats, scrub them down with carpet cleaner, rinse and leave them out to dry.
- Clean the Doors, Dashboard and Air Vents: Using glass or interior detail spray with a microfiber towel, wipe down the door panels, arm rests, dashboard, middle console and air vents. Use a small, soft bristled brush and/or cotton swabs to reach into the nooks and crannies.
- Clean the Seats: Depending on your seat material, you’ll need to use either fabric or leather cleaner. Leather cleaner can be sprayed and wiped off, while upholstery cleaner can be scrubbed into the fabric to remove dirt and stains. Once the seats are dry, you can also apply a fabric protector to cloth seats to prevent future stains.
- Wipe Down the Windows: Now that your car is almost done, use glass cleaner and a microfiber or paper towel to wipe down the inside of the windows. Be sure to clean the inside of your windshield too.
- Freshen Up the Air: If you want that professional clean car smell, use a car deodorizer, Febreeze, or air freshener for a final touch.
Once your car is in tip-top shape, it’s time to enjoy your clean ride knowing your hard work paid off!
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