Whether you have a lot full of cars to sell, or your own engine needs a good cleaning, knowing how to clean your car like a pro comes in handy.
If your car isn’t well cared for, the interior is likely to be the part that takes the most time. Although a fast vacuum will improve it, you need to spend more time on it to really take it to professional levels.
If the vehicle has floor mats installed, remove them from the vehicle and that means you can properly vacuum underneath, and you may need a damp cloth to scrub any dirt underneath as well as on the floor mats themselves.
Don’t forget the seats too, especially if they’re leather: if the leather is shiny, it means it’s very dirty, you want a nice matte finish instead. For leather, it’s worth investing in a special cleaner to avoid damaging it over an extended period of time.
Lastly, don’t forget to clean and disinfect key touch points like the gear selector, steering wheel and gauges and windshield wipers, which are often clogged with dirt.
Once you’ve got the interior out of the way, it’s time to move on to the exterior. If you are looking to sell a car, this is the area that possibly matters the most, as it is the first area that potential punters will look at.
It pays to use a pressure washer here. Before you even touch the car, you should try to remove as much dirt as possible with a stream of water, although be careful not to spray the nozzle too close to the paint.
Pay special attention to the wheel arches too – this is an area that is often overlooked.
We recommend making the wheels with your own bucket of shampoo and water. The finish and appearance of a set of tires can make or break the overall finish, so it pays to pay special attention here and make sure you clean the wheel cylinder, not just the faces.
A range of wheel brushes can help with this, while you may need to invest in a specific wheel cleaner for embedded dirt that can’t be removed simply by scrubbing.
When you’ve done the wheels, it’s time to move on to the rest of the car. For this, you need to use two buckets: one with just clean, warm water, and the second with the car shampoo mixture.
The best method to avoid sandblasting your car’s paint is to dip your wash mitt (throw away that old sponge, it’ll only damage the paint) in clean water to rinse it off, then wring it out and soak it. in the car shampoo and continue like this.
You should also work from the top down, the idea being that the roof and hood are the cleanest areas, while the lower doors and sills will have the most dirt.
Once you’ve turned the entire car over, you should rinse it off right away, and more importantly, don’t let it dry out on its own, as it can ruin the finish if there are water stains left.
Instead, get a suitable microfiber towel and dry it like this; it will really enhance the finish. Don’t be tempted to use a squeegee either, as these will scratch your vehicle’s paint.
There’s a good chance potential buyers will peek under the hood and it won’t make the best impression if they open the latch to reveal a dirty engine compartment.
It is recommended not to use a hose/pressure washer to clean under here, but to do it by hand.
You don’t have to be obsessive, but even fixing the top surfaces and underside of the hood will dramatically improve the finish.
We recommend using a well-diluted multi-purpose cleaner in combination with a few damp cloths; there is no point in using new cloths, as they will only stain and spoil them. Be careful not to be too heavy here too, especially in areas like the fuel hoses.
Other areas that are often overlooked are the trunk and door locks, as they are technically neither the interior nor the exterior of the car. However, they really attract dirt buildup and if left wet can cause corrosion later on.
So it’s worth giving them a little TLC, especially in the lower areas where people get in and out of the vehicle, and which you’ll probably notice as soon as you open the door.
Again, it doesn’t have to be excessive, but even just 10 minutes of attention here will reap the benefits in the long run.
Finishing touches really do matter when it comes to making your car look like the work of a ‘pro’.
Inside, you may need to walk around and do one last vacuum to get rid of any dust that has accumulated or that you may have missed earlier.
As for the exterior, apply a spray wax once the car is completely dry. Not only will this help remove any water marks or drips that may have built up, but it will also add extra gloss and shine to the car, as well as a bit of protection.
Other clever touches that can be done include adding shine to the tyres, which will ‘blacken’ the rubber and make it look much nicer, while if the vehicle has exhaust tips with a silver finish it is worth polishing them. It’s details like this that really count.
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