Refresh Your Ride For Spring

Car Cleaning Tips

Now that spring has finally returned, it’s time to clean the winter nasties from your vehicle before they leave a lasting mark—it’s easier than you might think. Read on for some simple and helpful tips to freshen your ride for spring.

  • Take out the Trash – use a stiff brush and a vacuum to clean out the junk that’s built up all winter. Pay attention to nooks and crannies like between and under the seats where loose change, straw wrappers and half-eaten French fries love to hide.
  • Freshen the Mats – use a power washer to get out all the dirt and grime off the floor mats. (Yes, you can use a power washer on carpeted floor mats.) If you don’t have a power washer, use one at a self-service car wash; then let them dry thoroughly in a warm place.
  • Silent the Squeaks – use a water-displacing lubricant such as WD-40 or white lithium grease on each door, trunk, and hood hinge to eliminate any squeaks and prevent premature wear.
  • Clean the Interior – wipe down the dashboard and the gauge faces, and use a cotton swab to clean out the air vents. (Avoid cleaning agents that contain silicone, as it will simply attract more dust and dirt.) Rent a steam cleaner or apply a rug-cleaning spray to the carpeting to remove all the ground-in salt.
  • Get Down Under – put your vehicle up on ramps or use a jack to make the undercarriage more accessible; then use a pressure washer or hose to spray the vehicle’s bottom. If you’d rather not get messy, pay the few extra dollars at the carwash for the undercarriage power wash.
  • Wash the Wheels – use a cleaner specifically formulated for tires and wheels to remove the grime. Never use the same washing cloth you used on the wheels to wash the rest of your car, as the road debris the cloth picks up will damage your vehicle’s paint.
  • Bring on the Suds – whether it’s in your own driveway (out of the sun), at a self-service car wash, or at an automated drive-thru wash, get the gunk off the exterior. If you wash it yourself, use a detergent that’s made for cars, as dishwashing liquid is too harsh for your vehicle’s paint.
  • Scrub the Sills – wipe down the doorsills to keep your pants clean, and clean any nooks missed during the wash. Rub door seals with mineral oil or use silicone spray to keep them supple.
  • Wash the Windows – winter is especially hard on your vehicle’s glass, and the built-up layer of grime can cause them to fog very quickly. To prevent this, wash the windows inside and out with a good car-window cleaner. Don’t use household cleaners containing ammonia, as they’ll make the glass fog even easier.
  • Use a Cleaning Clay – after washing your vehicle, rub it down with a cleaning clay—a soft pliable bar that resembles Play-Dough. Follow the directions that come with the clay and always use an appropriate lubricant with it.
  • Wax On, Wax Off – lastly, apply a protectant wax immediately after you dry the vehicle to protect that newly cleaned surface. There are many types available—we’re a big fan of pure carnauba wax—but whatever product you choose, apply it following its directions.

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