You may not
have noticed, but it is now officially spring, and you know what
that means: spring cleaning. Many of us will subject our homes to a
top-to-bottom scrubbing, but far fewer will do the same to our
automobiles. If your car, truck, SUV or minivan qualifies as a
Superfund site, itís the perfect time to make your ride really
shine. With just an hour or two, you wonít have to call the
Environmental Protection Agency before taking a family vacation. You
can do it yourself without paying hundreds for a car detailer.
Cleaning a car
means doing so from the inside out. If you have any questions on the
types of cleaner to use, consult your vehicleís ownerís manual.
cleaning the inside of the vehicle. Remove accumulated debris from
the map pockets, glove box, center console and trunk. Next, wipe
down the dashboard and door panels with a mild cleaner. Use a
disinfectant for door handles, the steering wheel, turn-signal
stalks and any other surface you regularly touch. Clean buttons with
a soft, damp cloth; dashboard vents and panel seams will require
Then clean the
glass. Spray window cleaner on your towel so mist doesnít fall on
your clean dashboard. Follow with a second towel to avoid streaks on
time to clean the seats. Upholstery cleaner or a steam cleaner will
do for cloth seats. For leather seats and trim, use a mild leather
cleaner or saddle soap followed by a leather conditioner to prevent
upholstered areas, including the headliner and the rear parcel
shelf. Be sure to reach under the seats. And donít forget the
shampoo the carpet and floor mats with a scrub brush. Youíll want
to keep the doors open to allow for drying. Use this time as a
chance to grab a sip of iced tea before turning your attention to
For this part,
you will need multiple sponges, one for each cleaner. If you drop
one, get a clean one to avoid scratching the paint. Make sure your
car is in a shady spot. Washing a car when the body is hot increases
the likelihood of spotting; cleaning a hot wheel rim can stain or
etch the wheel.
rinsing your ride thoroughly with gently flowing, warm water to
loosen dirt. High-pressure or hot water can damage modern paint
Next, wash the
car from the top down, using a car washing liquid and a natural
sponge. Donít use dishwashing detergent or other household
cleaners which can damage paint.
sponge lengthwise across the car. Never rub in circles; it creates
swirl marks in the paint. Rinse thoroughly, starting at the top and
working your way down.
Use a bug and
tar remover to clean stubborn dirt. Next, clean brake dust from
wheels using a wheel cleaner designed for your type of wheel, be it
chrome, aluminum or painted. Once clean, rinse the wheel. Then,
direct the hose into the underside of the wheel well to remove dirt
Now, open the
doors and trunk. Wash the door jambs and the channel around the
trunk and sunroof. Apply a silicone spray to your carís weather
stripping in the door jambs to keep it moist and prevent air and
Next, use a
chamois or soft terry towel to thoroughly dry the door jambs,
sunroof and trunk opening channel. Then, close the doors and trunk
and dry the remainder of the car using a back-and-forth motion. Donít
let the car air dry; that will leave water marks.
Once dry, itís
time to polish the car.
results still come from polishing, then waxing. Polish is slightly
abrasive and removes fine scratches while adding luster to the
finish, while wax protects the paint and prevents it from fading.
a back-and-forth motion while applying the polish and wax. Also, be
careful not to get polish or wax on plastic surfaces unless itís
formulated for them. Otherwise, you might need a plastic cleaner to
remove it. If you have a dark-colored vehicle, look for polishes
formulated for darker colors.
on a tire-shine product to give that perfect finishing touch.
With a bit of
time and patience, you can save a lot of money and ensure that your
ride will look good for the warm weather to come.