Even the best car on the street looks bad when it is dirty. But you have a show to you want to go to tomorrow and need to get your car ready! No problem we are going to give you a precise ten step guide to a showroom quality clean. Maybe you shouldn’t have left it till the night before.
Rinse and wet the car with normal tap water. A high pressure hose is best here but failing that you can use a hose pipe with a strong jet. Sponges are a no no here because it will pick up grit and act like sandpaper and tear your paintwork apart. Once you have loosened the grit with the hose the dirt will start to loosen. Whilst you are waiting for the water to dissolve the dirt you can start on the interior
The interior. Get rid of all those sweet packets, last night’s KFC and those parking fines giving yourself a good empty shell to work from. Remove all mats and give them a good vacuum and then move onto the interior with the vacuum. Move the seat back and forth, don’t just leave them and hope you have got everything. Once this is completed move onto the dashboard, wipe these down with a damp cloth. For stained areas use a mild detergent but make sure that they wiped off thoroughly. Make sure you don’t use products with Silicone in them as they can leave a greasy mess, and an overspray onto the pedals can be lethal. Finally wipe over the sills, boot, seams with a damp sponge.
The car should still be wet, but hose over once more time ready for the pre-wash. Grab a clean soft fluffy wool mitt and very slowly and very gently wipe over the whole car trying to remove any grid particles. You are not scrubbing at this point.
You can start at the very top of the car and work around it in circles, making sure that the sills and the bumpers are the last things that you touch overall. The reason for this is that they are generally the ones that contain the most dirt and grit.
Time for the Pre Wash. Using a bucket of clean water and a car wash product – something that does not foam up or cause lots of bubbles (I suggest Autoglym Car Shampoo) Choose a shampoo that doesn’t have a built in polish as this would effectively seal the dirt and grit underneath a thick layer of wax making the cleaning job 100 times harder.
Main Wash. Like before you should start with a high quality car shampoo, use a slightly harder sponge or cotton cleaning pad. Work from the top again making your way around the car. A scrub pad could be used for those extra tough stains but only on hardened areas of paint work like the sills and lower front bumper.
Wheels and Tyre next – start with a brush first and then move on to a hard sponge or a scrub pad. A little note here, if your wheels have special chrome or paint finish then the same rules apply as for paintwork. Do not use anything that you use to clean the wheels on the bodywork next time as it will be full of grid and scratch your paintwork. Brake dust is difficult to remove and this will usual require a chemical brake dust and alloy wheel cleaner. These will usually need brushing on leaving for a while and then sponging off. Make sure that you use gloves and avoid contact with your skin.
Rinse off the car, it’s time for some fresh clean water. A watering can is the easiest way of rising off the car, start from the top again and make your way down. Use two buckets to avoid grid contamination.
Dry the car off using a Chamois leather. They should be slightly damp to work best and you are buffing the water into small droplets, a mist then a haze and then the water is gone. People expect the Chamois leather to work like a towel and soak the water up but it needs to be treated like a wiper blade, creating a thin layer of water and then letting that evaporate itself. Patience is the key here.
Time for the glass clean – use a good high quality automotive glass cleaner here. Don’t use house glass cleaner! Go over the windows inside and out in a circular motion, the best results can be achieved by using a slightly damp microfiber cloth.
Polish. This should be rubbed on in straight lines, not circles to a light haze and then buffed off. Car paint work is very delicate and pressure should not be applied and only soft cloths should be used. Use one cloth to apply the polish, use another to buff it off and finally with a really soft cloth buff up the polish. Two applications and two buff off’s are far better than piling on as much polish as you can and hoping for the best.