How to Clean your Car

Depending on the sort of person you are cleaning your car is either one of the most laborious or rewarding parts of owning a car. For some keeping the car clean happens when you can no longer see clearly out of the windscreen and for others it’s when the merest speck of dust lands on the bonnet.

Here we’ve lined out the best way to keep your car clean without it involving too much hassle or time. Get your wellies on, pull out the rubber gloves and whack on your raincoat and you’re good to go!

What you’ll need:

  • Car shampoo
  • Two buckets
  • Two sponges
  • Hoover
  • A soft bristled brush of some description (an old dustpan brush works nicely)
  • Microfiber shammy (chamois leather)
  • Alloy wheel cleaner, can be purchased from most major retailers

Vehicle interior

Washing the inside of the car first is always a good idea as you’ll get wet and mucky washing the outside of the car. Start by collecting the bigger pieces of rubbish such as takeaway packaging, pebbles and unwanted receipts, and recycle when possible. Get the hoover out using an extension lead and hoover the seats first using the add-on that has a brush. This will get all the biscuit crumbs off your chair, and also remove some of the deeper dust.

The best way to deal with the plastic areas such as the dashboard is simply with a cloth, lightly dampened with water. A mild detergent can be used to tackle any stains as long as it’s well rinsed off any surfaces it has been applied to. Tip: Avoid cleaning the dashboard to a polished finished as this can cause glare on sunny days.

For the vents that have larger bits of dust in use the hoover to suck out any of this as well as any stray leaves or dead flies. Then use a normal duster to remove excess dust before using a damp cloth on the plastic areas such as the dashboard to clean it.

Cleaning the seats

Cleaning the seats depends on the type of material they are.

If they are leather then a damp cloth will remove any surface stains but deeper stains will need to be cleaned differently, some people recommend using nail polish remover or a non-gel toothpaste. Baking soda can also be used to remove oil stains. Once you’ve cleaned the leather seats use a leather conditioner that contains sunscreen to help protect the leather, especially from cracks or sun damage.

Cleaning fabric seats starts by hoovering well, as that will suck out all the dust that is embedded in the seat. If there are any stains, use a stain removal soap to remove any stains, following the instructions on the box. This then needs to dry out, so park the car in a secure location and leave the windows open slightly on a warm day. If you can, park the car so the seats are in the sun and this will help to dry it out.

Vehicle Exterior

You should wash the exterior of your car regularly to stop build up of dirt and moss etc.

The first step is to remove the dirt and grit from the body of your car with your hose or high pressured jet. It’s important to do this and not get stuck in straight away with the sponge as you might end up just pushing the dirt and grit around which could damage the paintwork. If you don’t have a hose, then squeeze a very wet sponge from the top of every panel, i.e. the top of the car door, to remove the excess dirt.

Mix your car wash solution with water and grab a sponge or soft bristled brush as it’s time to tackle the wheels. It’s always a good idea to clean the wheels first as they are often the dirtiest and therefore need more time and water. Get rid of all the big bits of dirt, and then use an alloy wheel cleaning solution, following the instructions on the bottle, and then rinse the tyre off. If it’s still dirty in the crevices, then use a brush or j-cloth to clean up the excess dirt.

Rub the car with your wet sponge (don’t use the same sponge you previously used to clean the wheels unless you want the brake dust and dirt from your wheels on your car’s body), starting at the top of your car and working your way down in circles. The bumpers are usually the dirtiest part of the car so should be the last thing you clean. Although it might be tempting to get out there and get cleaning on a hot sunny day, it’s actually best to wait until the evening or a cooler day to clean your car. Otherwise, you risk leaving smear marks on the body of your car if you can’t rinse off the cleaning solution before it dries.

Once you’ve cleaned the car with soapy water get a bucket of hot water and throw it over the car to remove all the soap suds, this will help to stop smear marks and also removes any residue. You may need two hot buckets if you have a larger car. Once you’ve done this, the car should be dripping wet.

Finishing Touches

The final finish of the car is what really makes the car shine. It is worth taking a minute or two to finish the car to make washing the car more worthwhile.

After washing all the soapy residue off the body work with water take a microfiber or leather chamois (shammy) to dry any excess water. This will stop smear marks and also get up any tiny particles that you may have missed.

Once your car’s body is completely dry you can apply wax in a circular motion using a clean cloth. After leaving it to settle for a few minutes you can then check for any residue by swiping your finger along the body and wiping down with a second cloth if needed.

Congratulations, you have cleaned your car! Now take some photos and show all your friends how clean and shiny your car is!


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