Car Cleaning

How To Clean Your Car Properly

Once upon a time, surburban men everywhere could be seen out on a Sunday afternoon, cleaning their cars.  Now we tend to take the short cut and head for the nearest drive through car wash.  But is this the best way to wash your car?

In a word, no.  Automated car washes cannot bend and flex to get into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, or even follow the curves of your vehicle accurately.  In addition to this, the brushes are often too stiff and will actually scratch your paintwork, while missing vast areas of the rest of the car.  If you want to be sure that your car will be absolutely clean after it’s been washed, your best bet by far is to clean it yourself.

Effective Car Cleaning

Effective car cleaning is something of an art.  You can get out there on a sunny day and wash your car in soap and water, but this would be more an excuse for showing off your (hot?) body in a swimsuit than for actually cleaning your car.  If you throw water all over your car on a hot, sunny day, it will dry before you can reach it and leave streaks all over the bodywork.  If you throw soapy water all over your car on a hot, sunny day, you will get streaks with an extra helping of flaky residue.

Your first step should be to get a hose (high pressure is preferable but anything will do) and wet the car all over so that the dried dirt gets damp and will be easier to remove.  On no account should you use a sponge at this stage as it will just pick up all the grit and swirl it around, scratching your paintwork.  When the car is good and wet, get inside and clear out all the stuff that has accumulated since the last time you excavated.  Cleaning your car outside also requires cleaning it inside.

Clean the Inside of the Car

Chip packets, candy wrappers, pick it all up and put it in a bag, then pick up the floor mats, vacuum them, and then vacuum the rest of the interior.  Don’t forget to wipe over the dashboard, gear stick and steering wheel, but don’t polish the dash – you’ll regret it on sunny days when the sun is reflecting up straight into your eyes.  Also wipe over the sills and seams with a damp (not wet!) sponge.  Work from the top down, going round the car in circles so that you get to the wheel sills last – this is where the majority of the grit will be and you don’t want to spread it around your car and scratch the paintwork.

Clean the Outside

By this point the outside of your car should be ready for you to start cleaning it.  Wet your car over one more time with the hose and then wipe the car over very carefully with a very soft sponge – this should help get rid of the grit that will otherwise scratch your car when you clean it properly.  It is important to get rid of this stuff at the beginning.  Now get hold of a high quality shampoo developed specifically for cars and again, work from the top down in circles.  If you hit a really tough stain, feel free to use a hard scrubbing pad on it, but only do this on the sills and bumpers where the paintwork is tougher, otherwise you will cause damage.

Use a stiff brush and then a scrubbing pad on your wheels and wheel trims and don’t ever use that brush and pad on any other part of your car – the grit will scratch the paintwork for sure.  You may need a chemical cleaner specially formulated for the removal of brake dust – if you do use one, make sure you wear gloves as these chemicals won’t do your skin any favors.

Finally, when it comes to applying polish, do so in straight lines and don’t go overboard.  You will need three cloths overall – one to apply the polish, another to buff it off afterwards, and a third, really soft, fine one to buff the polished surface to a shine.

Of course, you can always let the rain or the automated car wash do the job of cleaning your car for you, but unless you are there with cloths and sponges, bits will get missed.  If you want to get your vehicle truly clean, you need to take the necessary time and effort to personally make it so.