Spring is upon us! Birds are chirping, the grass is growing, and the allergies are fast approach. Ugh! It is now time to start cleaning those closets, attics, basements – and don’t forget your cars. Having driving all winter in the snow, slush, ice, and cold, they deserve a little TLC, don’t you think?
Rather than taking it to an auto detailer or paying a hefty price for car cleaning services, why not take things into your own, very capable, hands. DIY your car cleaning this spring.
Let’s start with a couple of interior car cleaning hacks to help you clean out all of the dirt and gunk that found its way into the cabin over the winter.
Pro Tip: Get Rid of the Hidden Dirt
Before you start getting into the tiny crevices of your car where you know dirty is hiding, remove all your belongings, garbage, and recycling. This will make it easier to find that dirt!
You will need a vacuum with a long hose attachment and access to an outlet. This will make it super easy to suck up all that dirt. While there are actual car detailing brushes out there, we’d like to think of ourselves as DIYers as much as possible. So we suggest using a toothbrush; one you intend to throw out, and no, don’t play a cruel joke on your partner or roommate. Take the toothbrush and start finding all those small nicks and crannies. As you pull out the dirt with the toothbrush, use the vacuum to suck it up. Don’t wait until the end though; you want to catch that dirt before it finds somewhere else to settle.
Take that vacuum and head to the area in between yours seats. If you’ve eaten in your car, you might find crumbs and bits of food. Now is the time to get rid of the evidence.
Pro Tip: Deep Clean the Carpets to Bring Them Back to Life
By far one of the dirtiest things in your interior after a long, wet and snowy winter are the carpets and floor mats. Before you start on the car carpet cleaning, take out removable pieces, beating and vacuuming them outside is the easiest.
Then then it’s time to tackle the carpeting; this will make a huge difference in your car. It’ll not only give the car or truck a refreshed look, but will help rid the carpets of any odors that may have built up due to constant wetness. One key tool you will need for this job is a wet/dry vacuum, which can be rented at some local hardware stores. Spray the carpets with an acid free degreaser; you can use the same degreaser that you’d use on your tires and wheels. Spray away and cover all the carpets and let it soak for a couple of minutes. Then get a bucket of hot water, laundry detergent (or car washing soap) and suds it up! Use a bristle brush and scrub away. After scrubbing away all the gross dirt, use the wet-dry vac to vacuuming out the water to ensure that it can dry properly. Take a towel and start rubbing the carpet with the cloth towel. This will fluff them up and really bring it back to life.
Thanks to Valley Motors for the awesome carpet cleaning tips! Check out this video for the full demo of how to really deep clean your carpets:
BONUS Tip: This same process can be used when cleaning car seats! If you are removing seat covers to clean the original upholstery, be sure let the seats dry COMPLETELY before putting them back on.
Now that you’ve given the interior a solid cleaning, let’s make that exterior sparkle and shine as if it were right off the lot!
Pro Tip: Clean Your Dirty Wheels with an Acid-Free Cleanser
Avoid using an acid based cleanser when cleaning your tires and wheels at home. As mentioned before, a degreaser has multiple uses, and cleaning your tires and wheels is one of them. Not only can the winter months create a thick layer of dirt and debris to reside on what were once shiny wheels, but brake dust can be a pesky culprit as well.
To avoid brake dust from corroding your wheels, it is important to clean them and getting all that dirt off will make them look much nicer.
Make sure the wheels are not hot and wash each wheel individually. Spray the wheel with water to get it wet and remove any loose dirt. Use the non-acid degreaser all over the first wheel and tire. You can use a toothbrush for this step of cleaning as well, but it may be useful to get yourself a special wheel brush in order to get into all the hard-to-reach crevices and clean the back of the wheel to give it a thorough cleaning.
From there, use a soft bristle brush to clean the front of the rims. Make sure to clean the tires as well before spraying off the degreaser. Make sure that you completely dry off the rim in order to avoid water marks. Repeat this process for each wheel.
Here’s a very detailed resource on how to properly clean and protect your wheels and tires. If you’re more of a visual person though, here’s a great video to walk you through the process:
BONUS Tip: Clean the tires and wheels prior to washing and protecting your car’s body.
Pro Tip: Clean Your Car’s Exterior with an Acid-Free Soap
Of course, you need to give the exterior a good cleaning, but when you’re doing it yourself, there’s you need be aware of which household items are safe to use and which could actually damage your car. While dish soap is great for getting grease off of your pots and pans, it can remove the wax polish on your car’s exterior. While this may seem like the easiest and cheapest way to give your car a good body clean, in the long run; you are causing damage to the natural gloss finish of your car’s paint, which could cost you quite a bit to have fixed. Instead, invest a little bit of money into buying a soap that is designed for your car’s exterior. They are milder and will not harm the paint. A car cleaning kit full of car cleaning products may be purchased or amassed overtime and should be full of safe car cleaning supplies.
To clean your car’s exterior: get two buckets, one for clean the sponge and one for the soapy water. Start by rinsing off the exterior with a hose. Use the soapy water, then rinse the sponge in the clean water to get rid of the dirt, then get some more soapy water. Rinse the car fully and dry completely to avoid spotting.
BONUS Tip: You can use toothpaste to clean those hazy headlights. For a full description, check out our another one of our DIY Car Hacks post.
Pro Tip for How to Clean Your Car: Make Your Car Shiny and New
There’s nothing like finishing up your spring car cleaning by making your car shiny and new! Now that your car’s interior smells like new, it seems fitting to give it that brand new shine too, right?
A couple things to keep in mind when waxing. Ensure that your car is clean and completely dry and make sure that you’re in a shaded temperate area.
With a paste wax, apply a dollop of the wax to the body’s car and use overlapping strokes to cover a small section of the car. You do not want to cover the car entirely, but work within smaller section to ensure that you can take off the wax when it starts to have that hazy look. Use light but firm pressure when applying the wax.
After about 5 minutes, the wax will be ready to take off. When it is dry, it will have a matte and hazy look. Use a microfiber towel to remove it. Use the same light pressure as before and make sure that you do not use the same microfiber cloth throughout the whole waxing process. When one side of the cloth is covered in wax, you will need to flip the cloth over. You should also have a backup one in case you start to feel a drag. By using the clean side to finish the waxing, you will be able to really shine it up!
Et voila, your car is as shiny as new! Woooo!
To see how to wax your car, check out this video:
FINAL Pro Tip: Know When to See a Pro
Even though all the car cleaning hacks we’ve giving you are easy enough for most people to execute and all the DIYers out there will be stoked to clean their car without needing a pro; there are certain circumstances that a pro might be required. For example, if you have serious paint scratches that go all the way down to the metal, you may want to consider visiting your local detailing shop as this sort of thing requires more than just sanding and if not dealt with correctly, can be a real disaster later on. You can always call them and seek advice before going in too.
Hope you enjoy your clean car! Do you have any big spring road trips planned? Let us know where you’re headed!
If you do, read these 5 DIY Car Hacks to Keep You Cool this Summer