It doesn’t matter if you drive a Daihatsu or a Bugatti, making your car presentable is part of being a responsible owner. Unless you’re the type that invites friends and passersby to finger paint nasty messages on your dust-caked windows, there are a few surprising things you should know about washing and detailing a car.
Take a little time to understand how to properly wash your car, so you’re proud of its look. Most people think they should wash from the top down, but there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s possible to wash your car incorrectly, and you could be committing some real car-detailing crimes as well.
Consider the following tips — you can thank me later when you’re not scrambling to remove water spots.
Steer Clear of Sunlight
Don’t wash your car in direct sunlight, no matter what the season, and no matter how often you see it being done. Doing so can make soap dry quickly, which will leave a residue. Use a garage to keep this from happening if it’s hot where you live.
Remember That Wheels & Tires Come First
Don’t save wheels and tires for last — they’re typically very dirty. Use a different set of towels and other tools to clean them, so you don’t spread dirt to the rest of your car.
Recognize That Windows Are Crucial
Windows are the only part of your car that you constantly look at, so they need to be clean. Dirty windows can also pose a safety issue. Use a microfiber towel and ammonia-based glass cleaner to finish windows as you wash the top of the car. Have a second towel available to dry them.
Know That All Soap Is Not Created Equal
If you’ve become accustom to using dishwashing detergent to wash your car, you could be removing the waxes and sealants you’ve put money and effort into applying. Rather than damaging your finish, use a dedicated car detergent. And remember: Washing your vehicle is important regardless of the season.
Don’t Apply Wax and Polish Directly
Rather than placing these agents right on your car’s finish, use an applicator to avoid leaving streaks in your car’s finish. You typically don’t need a great deal of product to achieve a sparkling finish — a thin layer will dry more quickly and deliver the results you’re looking for.
Use a Toothbrush for Hard-to-Reach Spots
If you really want to clean to those nooks and crannies on the interior, use a toothbrush. It’s an old detailer’s trick, and it costs next to nothing.
Use a Cleaner and Protectant on Interior Plastics
Cleaning your interior effectively is equally as important as cleaning the outside surfaces. Not all plastic surfaces require the same treatment. Penetrating protectant works better on soft plastics, while more traditional plastic polish is best for hard surfaces.
There’s no need to spend wads of cash having your car professionally detailed. Everything you’d pay a pro to do you can do on your own. With a little practice, you’ll be doing it like a pro yourself.
Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA.