Let’s talk about the most rewarding activity when taking care of your car at home: cleaning. The process might not be enjoyed by everyone, but the result is sure to please drivers and passengers alike. We all love seeing our car shine and look almost as beautiful as new.
Here are some at-home care steps and tips to cleaning your car:
Washing the exterior of your car at home will be possible only if you have a dedicated area where you can splash, be that your driveway, parking lot, or garage. If you do have access to one of these areas, here are 5 steps for a good car wash.
Tip: If you plan to wash your car outside, make sure you do so in the shade in order to avoid water spots caused by premature drying.
Step 1: Gather some basic equipment.
- You will not need too much to be able to give your car a good wash, here are the following recommended basics:
- two buckets
- car wash soap
- a sponge (or two)
- microfiber towels
- a brush (optional)
Step 2: Start with the wheels
After having mixed some soap and water in one bucket, you are ready to take care of the exterior of your car, starting with the wheels.
Apart from mud, a major part of the dirt you can see is brake dust. You will want to remove it carefully to avoid future stains or even corrosion. This is when having a brush will come in handy as cleaning it with a sponge only might require a bit more effort.
Tip: clean your wheels one by one. You don’t want to let soap and dirt dry up before rinsing or you might have to start over.
Step 3. Scrub, scrub, scrub
Start with pre-rinsing your car with the hose. Once done, scrub all parts, from the top down, with the sponge, soap and fresh water.
Tip: wash one small area after the other, rinse your sponge in between each area, and keep your car wet by misting with the hose as you scrub. This will prevent water and soap spots from forming.
Step 4. Give special care to the windshield
As you wash your car all around, give some extra attention to your windshield. For a deep and efficient cleaning, lift the wipers in order to access the entire area -and allow you to clean the wipers themselves. Remove the dirt and possible sticky and/or greasy pollutants from both. This will greatly improve visibility when driving.
Tip: when you are ready to bring the wipers down, make sure you do it gently instead of letting them go on their own. The impact could damage your windshield.
Step 5. Final rinse and dry
Once you’ve gone around the car and feel confident you have not forgotten any area, it is time for a final rinse. Use your hose and rinse from the top down. You may want to let the water sheet over the surface of the car to avoid water spots.
Then, dry your car with microfiber towels. Do a first pass to soak most of the water, and a second one for touch ups.
Now that your car is shining from the outside, make it shine from the inside.
Step 1. Take the trash out
We all tend to leave some trash behind, whether it is an empty bottle of water in the cup holder or the wrapping paper of a quick snack in the door pocket. The first step to clean your interior is to remove forgotten trash. You might want to check every box, door pockets, your car floor, and the space under the front seats. This step will make the following ones much more efficient.
Step 2. Start with your floor mats
Unlike the exterior of the car, adopt a bottom up approach for the interior. Start with taking your floor mats out, give them a good shake and vacuum them. If you feel like more is needed, you can also scrub them with soap and warm water. Make sure you let them dry completely before reinstalling them.
Step 3. Make some (vacuum) noise
This is the part where your ears will NOT thank you, but your car will and your passengers too. Vacuum every corner of your car, from the top of the seats to the floor behind the pedals, the cup holders and every door pockets, without forgetting seat cracks.
Tip: vacuum the inside of your trunk too!
Step 4. Clean surfaces
Just like any other closed space, your car gets dusty. With a microfiber towel and water, or dedicated products, wipe off all the dust and dirt that accumulated on every surface. This includes your steering wheel, console, cup holders, seat belt buckles, etc. Dedicated products in this situation will make your car looking like new with additional shine.
Tip: some areas like cup holders and buttons on the console can be harder to clean with a towel. Grab a few cotton swabs – they will help you greatly.
Step 5. Wipe windows and windshield
Your windows have been taken care of from the outside, now is time to finish the work inside. Using a microfiber towel and some window cleaner solution, wipe all windows including your windshield. Be careful not to leave any dust/sticky area to ensure great visibility when driving.
Tip: if you do not have cleaner solution handy, you can always mix 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 of alcohol in one cup of water. This will make a perfect homemade cleaner.
Step 6. Freshen up homemade style
If you want to give a fresh smell to your car, but don’t have any car freshener at home, you can make one yourself with 1 cup of baking soda and 5 drops of essential oil. Place both in a jar and let it sit for 24 hours. When ready, shake the jar, sprinkle it on your car floor and let it sit for 20 minutes. All you’re left to do is to vacuum it off.
Taking care of the appearance of your car inside out is an important part of at-home maintenance. But you will want to go one step further with an at-home inspection to fully care for your car at home. Learn what step to take for a full at-home inspection here.