Car Cleaning Basics


Nothing smells quite as wonderful as a brand-new car. That smell, along with that of new car tires, is one of my favorites. The first time I bought a new car was a wonderful feeling. Many days, I would sit inside, without it even running, and I would breathe in that wonderful smell. My family thought I was crazy, but I knew the newness of it all wouldn’t last forever, so I enjoyed it for the first few months. Now, when I clean my car, I always have one goal in mind – getting my car to smell like it did the first day I bought it. With a lot of scrubbing and the right tools, my car gets that fresh feeling that so many people crave. Follow these tips and your car can be looking, and smelling, new again.

1. Scrub the Carpets

Vehicles get a lot of foot traffic. There is no place to remove your shoes, so dirt, bugs, grease, and leaves get dragged in and smashed into the floors. Start with vacuuming the carpets to remove the larger debris, and then grab a scrub-brush. With soap and water, scrub the carpets until your arm feels like it is going to fall off; then, keep scrubbing. Using a Shop-Vac, vacuum up everything.

2. Use an Air Compressor

This is one of the best tools to have around the house. Using the force of air, blow air in the vents, cracks, and corners of the car. Dirt that is trapped in the edges of the carpet can easily be blown out and then vacuumed up after. Removing buildup in the vents will get your car smelling new again.

3. Hand-Wash the Exterior

While driving through a car wash is a convenient way to get your car clean, hand-washing your car does the best job. Using automotive soap and water, scrub the car with a soft sponge. Feel the car with your bare hand for spots that need extra cleaning.

4. Clean the Tires

Many people forget to clean the tires, but without them polished, your car doesn’t have that complete new look. Use a hose to spray off the dirt and then get down and scrub away with a rougher sponge.

5. Dry With a Rag

Once the car is washed and rinsed, grab the towels and start wiping. The sun can dry it up great, but you are going to be left with water stains and streaks. Dry every drop of water, and stare at that perfect shine.

6. Wax the Paint

Time to wax. I was always scared to wax my car in the beginning. I don’t know why, but I was afraid of messing up. Follow the instructions on the bottle and you should be done quickly. It is incredibly easy and is a great way to protect your paint from bird droppings, wind, and the sun.

7. Shine the Windows

Always wash the windows last: Water can leave streaks on the windows. Instead of worrying about what cleaner to use on the glass, buy a cheap bottle of washer fluid. It goes on fast and is streak-free.

The more you clean your car, the easier it becomes. Every single time I get out the vacuum, I discover a quicker method or a new way of cleaning my car. Is there something you do every time? After using my air compressor, I have never been able to clean my car without it. Now that the sun is starting to shine more, I am itching to give my car a thorough wash. I simply can’t wait for it to smell new again.

Image Courtesy of Gavin Robinson (Flickr)

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