From Washing at Home to Detailing, Here are Some Tips for Keeping Your Car Clean

Keep Your Car Looking Pristine

Car washing is an important part of basic car maintenance. Dust, sand and especially salt can eat away at your car's exterior, and other substances like tree sap and bird droppings can eat through the clear veneer. You should wash your car, at minimum, every few weeks.

Should you wash your car at home?

While cleaning your car at home will save you some money, you really need to do your homework beforehand. Dishwashing soaps or other household cleaning supplies might be too rough for your car's finish. Make sure you visit a car care store to find a gentle, non-abrasive soap, specialty car wax and soft chamois towels made specifically for car washing.

When washing the exterior, start with a good location. Park your car in a shady area if you can, as direct sunlight will tend to dry the soapy water and leave spots all over the veneer. Before you begin to scrub the car, gently spray water all over to remove any loose grime or grit that could scratch the paint once you apply pressure. Finally, prepare two buckets of water: one filled with very sudsy water and the other with clean, clear water for rinsing the sponge or cloth as you go.

It's equally important to clean the inside of your car. Wipe down the dashboard, steering wheel, cup holders and other surfaces with a specially formulated product like Armor All. This will not only polish these surfaces, they'll also stop the surfaces from cracking. Don't forget to clean the inside of your windshield and your windows with a glass cleaner; you'll be amazed how grimy your windows can get. This can impair your vision while driving, potentially leading to accidents.

At the Car Wash

You might also choose to take your car to a professional car wash, either of the self-serve or completely automated variety. Professional car wash equipment is specially made to be tough on dirt and gentle on paint. Their products are also better for the environment; professional car washes are designed to drain water and chemicals into appropriate channels, rather than down a storm drain where runoff could empty into a river or lake.

Whether automatic or manual, look for a car wash that offers a lot of options, including things like pre-soaking and waxing products or spot-free tire and engine cleaners. It's nice if the location offers ways to clean your interior, too. Look for vacuum cleaners, dust rags and cleansers available for rent or purchase. Some businesses will even offer these items to customers free of charge.

Car Detailing

For those looking to go above and beyond a regular wash, consider a car detailing service. Detailers will clean and polish every inch of your car, from the inside of the trunk to the engine block, to make sure your vehicle looks and feels brand new. It's called "detailing" because no detail is left untouched; professional detailers have even been known to use cotton swabs to clean dashboards.

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