Keeping your car clean can be as important as making sure it has regular maintenance. Cleaning it regularly, inside and out, can reduce the “wear and tear” on the car which may mean a better resale value. Washing the car yourself will give you a chance to inspect your vehicle and identify any scratches or dents. It only takes about an hour or so of your time and can save you lots of money — esp. if you usually pay for detailing.
1. Wash your car early in the morning or evening and find a shady spot. Direct, full force sunshine leads to streaks.
2. Deal with the interior of the car first. Alternatively, take a break between cleaning the exterior and the interior to let everything dry completely.
3. Washing the exterior of the car should include the following steps:
- Rinse all the loose dirt from the exterior, including the windshield wipers, hubcaps, and wheel wells.
- Using a clean cloth or mitt, start with the roof, then the hood, sides, and truck. Be sure to rinse each section immediately after washing. There are several commercial cleaners available or you can mix your own using 1/8 cup of any mild dishwashing liquid to one bucket of water.
- For particularly dirty areas, use a sponge for scrubbing.
- Clean the tires, saving the front passenger side for last as it is usually the dirtiest. And don’t forget to clean the rims.
- Rinse the car a second time to make sure that all the soap is removed from the nooks and crannies.
- Carefully use a towel to dry the surface. This prevents water spots. Then use a chamois to catch any residual dampness.
- Save the window for last. You can use a regular glass cleaner or mix one part white vinegar with two parts water.
4. When cleaning the interior, make sure to cover all these areas:
- Dust the dash and doors with an electrostatic dust cloth then wipe with a towel or rag using any all-purpose cleaner
- Vacuum the gearshift and then wipe it down as well
- Shake out the floor mats and vacuum them.
- Vacuum the seats and the floor carpeting. Be sure to move the seats all the way back and then all the way forward so you can get all the debris. Use the appropriate cleaner or shampoo to clean and condition.
- Clean the inside of the window and windshield with water and a microfiber cloths.
Waxing your car can help provide protection between cleanings. For tips on waxing, see the video below.