Did you know that, apart from a house and the expense of raising children, an automobile is the most expensive item the vast majority of us will ever buy? Why then do we find it acceptable to neglect these expensive purchases? C’mon folks, let’s get out there in the sunshine and give our cars a good cleaning! They love it, I know they do.
I used to run a pickup and delivery car ceramic pro detailing business, and I quickly realized the importance of the following five tips that I’m going to share with you. Some may sound simple, but you’d be amazed at how many of my friends and neighbors I see washing their cars the hard way.
I’m going to assume that everyone knows to spray your car down with water thoroughly before employing these steps. It dislodges the loose dirt and dust that would otherwise be swirled around with your mitt, and it also effectively cools the surface temperature of your car a bit before washing, which makes cleaning easier.
#1 – Clean the Tires First.
I never condone the use of harsh chemicals on a vehicle’s paint, but on tires and rims it’s generally a good way to go, simply for the time savings and the effectiveness of most cleaners (email me or visit my website for recommendations). I use a soft bristle brush and an old wash mitt. Do NOT use the same water that you’re going to use to wash the car, since the brake dust and road tar that your rims accumulate, not to mention those harsh chemicals that you used to clean them, are not good for your paint at all.
#2 – Repeat After Me:
We wash the car from the TOP down! This is a simple tip, but most folks tend to forget it, instead just dunking their mitt in the water and slapping it up on the nearest body panel. Why does it matter? Not only does gravity dictate that dirt and water always run to ground, but you actually end up saving a lot of time, soapy water, and rinse water when you start at the top. Try it and you’ll agree. I also find that it ensures a more thorough and consistent cleaning.
#3 – Don’t use old bath towels to dry off your car.
I know it’s easy to do it that way, but those towels actually aren’t soft enough to keep from putting minuscule scratches into your paint. You won’t notice it right away, but try drying the same car with crusty bath towels for a couple years, and you’ll definitely notice a duller paint finish. But don’t throw those towels away! Use them to dry your windows, rubber trim, door jambs, wheels and tires, really anything but the paint. What do you dry the rest of your car with? A chamois. I’ll always prefer the genuine sheepskin chamois, but there are some competitive synthetic ones out there.
#4 – Cost Saving tip here:
Save your old newspapers for cleaning your car windows! You still need to use Windex of course, but old newspapers are essentially free and they actually do a MUCH better job of cleaning your windows, with drastically less lint than paper towels. Also, a wad of newspaper goes a lot longer before needing to be replaced. At the car wash where I ran my business, we used to dig the newspapers out of the trash cans. Free! Just grab a full page, crumple it up into a large wad, and off you go. For some reason, the color pages don’t work as well, so try to use the black and white pages. Seriously, if you’ve never tried this then you’ll thank me.
#5 – Use a damp rag on your dashboard and interior trim before applying the vinyl detailer (Armor All or similar).
When you spray your dash, your seats, the door panels, and everywhere else with detailer without first wiping it down, all that dust and grime just gets spread around, not really removed. This step is also free, and will save you money in Armor All as well. Take a clean rag, dampen it with water, and quickly wipe everything down. Take a peak at your rag. See? Afterwards apply your vinyl detailer SPARINGLY. Now that’s a nice looking interior.
We spend so much money on our cars, and so much time in them, folks. I for one am glad to spend so much time in mine. Without my car I’m . . . well I’m a guy who’s looking for his car. Let’s send the right message about ourselves by keeping our cars in great shape!