How to make your ride sparkle
Almost everyone has washed a car before, but are you doing it right? I remember cleaning my dad’s car when I was young, often using products that weren’t specifically designed for cars. A lot of people are still doing this today. Here’s a handy guide for washing your cherished vehicle.
What should I include in my cleaning kit?
There are several practical items to have in your kit. Some are essential, while others are desirable but optional.
For the car’s exterior, I strongly advise that at the very least you have the following: a mitt, microfibre cloths, two buckets, car soap, and a hose and nozzle.
I’d also recommend a pressure washer, rim and tire cleaner, bug and tar remover, a chamois, and wax.
For the interior, I suggest a portable vacuum cleaner, fabric and/or leather cleaner, microfibre cloths, a cleaner for plastic trim and dashboards, and a spray bottle filled with a mixture of water and vinegar (¾ water to ¼ vinegar).
When should I wash my car?
It’s best to wash your car in the morning before the sun makes it too hot. You should also remove bird droppings as quickly as possible; immediately if you can. It’s the same for bug splatters and tree sap. All of these things can permanently damage the paint.
What type of soap should I use?
Only use soap designed for washing cars. Some soaps, such as dishwashing liquid, can remove the layer of wax that protects the paint. Certain soaps created specifically for cars even include wax, which will make your car look spiffy while safeguarding the paint.
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Should I use a chenille wash mitt or regular cloths?
A chenille mitt or pad is, in my opinion, the best option to give your car a thorough wash. The chenille traps and holds dirt, preventing debris from scratching the paint. A simple rag can cause scratches by dragging grains of sand and other abrasive material over the car. Be sure to rinse your mitt or pad frequently to remove debris buildup. Always use two buckets to wash your car, the first filled with soap and water, the second with just water. Use the first one to soap up your mitt and the other to rinse it off. Having a separate rinse bucket reduces the amount of debris in your wash water.
Getting to work
First, rinse the car using your hose or pressure washer. This will remove a layer of dirt and wet the car for the soapy mitt stage.
If you have a suitable cleaner, use it to remove any insects or tar spots you see. Let the product act for five to 10 minutes before starting to clean the car. This is also a good time to apply the rim cleaner, if you have some.
Now, with your chenille mitt soaked in soapy water, you can begin to wash the car, starting up top with the roof, hood and trunk, and then moving lower down. Rinse the car after each part is washed to prevent the soap from drying on it, and don’t forget to rinse your mitt regularly as well. It’s best to clean your rims at the very end because they’re usually filthy, and your mitt, pad or cloth won’t come out unscathed. In fact, I advise you to use a separate mitt for the car and another (less expensive) one for your rims.
Next, it’s time to clean the windows. You can, of course, buy a product designed for this, but I just use water and vinegar mixed in a spray bottle and a microfibre cloth.
Take a few minutes to dry the car thoroughly once it’s been washed. This step is optional but will prevent water marks. After this, you can apply the wax, choosing from a range of pastes and liquids. Personally, I prefer liquid wax because it goes on more easily and makes the task less arduous. If you wish, you can also use a tire cleaner, which will restore shine to faded tires.
I always start the inside of the car by vacuuming. Then, I take a damp cloth to the dashboard and plastic trim to remove accumulated dirt.
If there are stains on the seats or carpets, I use a specially designed cleanser to dislodge them. For leather seats, I use a leather cleaner.
For the rest of the passenger compartment, you can use other products available in stores. Personally, I avoid cleansers that give a shine or have a greasy finish. In most cases, slightly soapy water does the trick, and I use the spray bottle of water and vinegar on the inside and outside of the vehicle.
So that’s how I like to clean a car, but that’s my method. You may have a better one, so don’t hesitate to share your tips.
Enjoy washing your beloved car, and have a great week.