gmtoday_small.gif
 

Larry Printz: Spring cleaning applies to your car too

April 14, 2014

   

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.

Start by 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 cotton swabs.

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 the glass.

Now itís 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 cracking.

Next, vacuum upholstered areas, including the headliner and the rear parcel shelf. Be sure to reach under the seats. And donít forget the trunk.

Finally, 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 the exterior.

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.

Start by rinsing your ride thoroughly with gently flowing, warm water to loosen dirt. High-pressure or hot water can damage modern paint finishes.

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.

Move the 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 or debris.

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 water leaks.

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.

The best 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.

Remember, use 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.

Finally, spray 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.

 

 

 

  McClatchy-Tribune Information Services