closeup of soap suds on blue car being washed at car wash.

Car cleaning tips

For many drivers, their car is simply a means of getting from point A to point B; but for many of us, our car is an extension of ourselves. It is a part of who we are. And if we take any small bit of pride or care in our appearance, you can bet that we want to offer our auto the same (and sometimes greater) care and attention. So, if you fall into the category A car owner, feel free to skip this post. For the rest of you, here’s our quick guide to cleaning and caring for your car.

If you want your car to look good but don’t want to put in the effort or elbow grease yourself, feel free to use an auto center or professional car cleaning or detailing service. It will cost you more than you’d spend doing it yourself if you opt for a hand-detailing service, but better to do that than skip giving your car the care it needs altogether.

If, however, you prefer to do the cleaning yourself, start with the basics.

Pre-Game Setup

Preschool Cleaning Basics

If you wear rings or a watch or any other piece of jewelry on your hands, wrists or arms. Take it off. Metal scratches. And soap can loosen jewelry – do both your car and your marriage a favor and you’re your jewelry off and put it in a safe place before you get down to the task of cleaning.

Get a Clay Bar

Ever wonder how that local detailer pulls an amazing gleam out of your car while the best you can muster is some spots free of watermarks and swirls? Clay bars are the secret weapon of the professionals. Get a decent one for yourself so your cleaning job will measure up.

Two is One, One is None

You need two buckets if you want to clean your car instead of simply moving the grime from one end to the other. Keep one filled with clean water and use the other to rinse all the dirt and debris from your sponge or wash mitt.

You Don’t Need Power

Do not use a pressure washer. You probably know better, but many don’t. And as a result they use the same washer for their deck on their car and are surprised to learn that (1) that power jet of water just moves the dirt efficiently across your vehicle’s paint instead of off it and if the paint’s been damaged, that jet of water is just going to make it worse.

Skip The Dish Soap

Dawn may take grease out of your way, but it isn’t going to do your car’s finish a single favor. Other household cleaners can have a very acidic or alkaline balance which can be harsh and damaging to your car’s clear coat. Don’t skimp and get a cleaning agent designed with a PH-neutral balance for your car or truck.

Get Specialized To Get Clean

Car soap does the job for small bits of dirt, but really stuck on grime like road tar, tree sap, etc. requires more powerful agents. Invest to clean the mess.

Micro-fiber Clothes & Shop Towels

Get a bunch of micro fiber clothes and a couple rolls of shop towels.

Ditch The Chamois

Heresy? Nope. Not if you want a streak-free shine when you’re all said and done. Get a soft silicon water blade and never doubt again.

Quality Wax or Polish

If you’re going to put your Saturday afternoon on hold so you can put a shine on your pride and joy, don’t short change your ride. Get a good quality wax and treat your ride right.

If You Use Silicon Cleaners, Keep Them to Your Exterior

Some owners have made the mistake of using them to detail their engine. Not smart. When it dries, it’s sticky which means all the dirt and debris that gets kicked up in the engine compartment sticks to your engine, making it dirty even faster than you thought.

Hard or Soft Water

If you live in a hard water area, don’t clean your car on a hot and sunny day. The soap and water will dry out and cover your car in calcium streaks quicker than you’ll ever be able to rinse it off. If you have do it, then put your car in the shade or under an awning to give yourself a fighting chance.

We hope these tips will help you keep a better shine on your beautiful ride. We’ll have a more detailed cleaning guide for you soon!

Keep driving!

Categories: Maintenance

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