Easy Car-cleaning Tips: Dos And Don'ts

The ultimate guide to keeping your vehicle cleaner longer.

By Jordan Mendoza

How did my car get this dirty so fast?! We’ve all experienced it: You finally wash your car, only to have rain immediately leave chalky spots all over its pristine finish. Or you carefully tidy up the interior of your vehicle, then blink your eyes and it’s trashed again. Here are some car-cleaning tips to make that just-washed cleanliness last longer—inside and out.

Do:

  • Use a microfiber towel after you wash your car. If you wipe your vehicle off before the water dries, it’s less likely to get spots.
  • Wax your car regularly. If you don’t, contaminants such as ultraviolet rays, bird droppings, salt, dirt and rain can cause your clear coat to deteriorate, leaving your car looking dull and splotchy.
  • Quickly clean up bugs, watermarks and droppings.If you wait until they’ve hardened, they’re more likely to eat into your paint.
  • Keep microfiber cloths in your vehicle. After a rainfall, immediately run a cloth over the car body to help ensure that unsightly watermarks don’t appear. Microfiber is especially absorbent and easy to wring, and its fine yarns leave surfaces shiny and spotless.
  • Use a razor blade on the windshield to remove stubborn bugs or debris.
  • Clean the inside of your vehicle every time you wash the outside.
  • Use a high-powered vacuum on the interior. A hand-held mini-vac may not be powerful enough to suck all the dirt out of the upholstery, carpets and crevices.
  • Choose the proper cleaner for your seats. Use an upholstery cleaner on fabric, and soap and water for leather seats.
  • Bust out the cotton swabs. These will help you get at dusty air vents and any crusty nooks and crannies in your console.
  • Wipe down your dashboard. Use a dusting cloth—or just dab a little olive oil on a coffee filter. (For more car-interior hacks, including how to use dryer sheets to deodorize your car, watch The Top 5 Car Hacks Everyone Should Know.)
  • Get organized by using hanging multi-pocket storage units on the back of your seats. Use them to hold any soft items that make it into your vehicle (hard objects could come loose and pose a danger).
  • Store loose coins in a pill bottle in the center console.
  • Use a wicker basket as a trunk organizer.
  • Schedule an alert on your phone’s calendar to clean your car regularly.

Don’t:

  • Wash your car when it’s sunny and hot. The water will magnify the sun’s damaging rays and can potentially harm your finish.
  • Use household products such as dishwashing soap. They will strip car wax and damage the finish.
  • Air-dry your vehicle. Or you may see spots.
  • Scrub in circles when hand-washing your vehicle. This can leave light scratches and noticeable swirl marks. Instead, wash in straight lines, lengthwise along the car.
  • Press hard when cleaning leather seats. This could remove the dye.
  • Neglect your floor mats. Shake them out and scrub them with a mild laundry detergent and water.

Follow these tips and you’ll no longer feel like crying when raindrops start hitting the windshield.

Tags: Service

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