As gas prices continue to go up, so does the cost of…well…everything. During this inflationary period, we all know that everyone is looking to save money wherever they can. When it comes to detailing your vehicle, you may not have the extra cash lying around to get a professional deep clean done at a dealership or even at your local car wash, but regularly cleaning and monitoring the interior and exterior of your vehicle is essential to maintaining its value and ensuring it’s safe to drive for you and your family.
We’ve put together some simple tips on how to clean and inspect your vehicle at home and on a budget. All you’ll need is a hose, a couple of buckets, car shampoo, rags, and a nylon brush.
1: Cleaning Your Wheels and Tires
To start the process, give your wheels and tires a thorough rinse with the hose. After the wheels are wet, coat them with a pH-balanced car shampoo and then scrub off any excess dirt or debris. When you are done cleaning the tires, take either a microfibre wash mitt or brush and scrub them one last time and give them a final rinse with water.
As tires are usually the dirtiest parts of your car, regularly cleaning them is an important part of preventative maintenance. It can help remove any buildup of brake dust, road grime and other elements that could potentially damage the tires and wheels. And as under-inflated tires are the leading cause of tire-related crashes (also decreasing vehicle handling and gas mileage, and increasing premature wear), the simple process of cleaning your tires gives you the chance to inspect them up close and ensure they’re at recommended inflation levels.
2: Clean The Body
Set aside the microfibre mitt that you used for your tires and grab a new one for the body of your vehicle; using the same dirty mitt on the body could damage the paint.
You’ll want to start by filling two buckets with water, adding car shampoo to one, and reserving the other for clean water. After rinsing down the entire body of the car with the hose, begin to gently wash your car with the soapy water. Scrub in a linear motion moving the mitt in a downward line starting at the roof of your vehicle to the sides of your windows, until each section of the car is sparkling and then give it a good rinse.
Simple, regular washing of your vehicle prevents the collection of dirt, grime, and salt on the body which can damage the paint and lead to corrosion of the metal. This type of damage can be quite expensive to repair, so prevention is key.
3: Clean The Interior
Start by taking out the vehicle’s mats and shaking off any excess debris. Then give the dashboard a good wipe with a damp microfibre towel. After it dries, use Armor All or another interior cleaner to coat and protect the interior surfaces of your vehicle (ensure you’re using a cleaner formulated for your vehicle’s specific interior).
Once all surfaces are wiped, move on to your seats, vacuuming them thoroughly. If the seats have noticeable stains, you can pre-treat them with an upholstery cleaner and work it into the fabric with a soft brush. Then apply an upholstery cleaner solution. Depending on the cleaner you selected, you may need to mix the cleaning solution with warm water. Finally, work in the cleaning solution and finish it off by wiping away any excess moisture with a microfibre cloth. If your seats are leather, you can use a commercial leather cleaner or make your own. Once all other surfaces are clean, vacuum your mats and the floor of your vehicle.
It’s often overlooked how important it is to regularly and comprehensively clean the inside of your vehicle. Buildups of dirt, dust and mold can inflame allergy symptoms and have an overall negative impact on your health. These buildups can also wreak havoc on your interior surfaces over time, causing fading, cracking and other damage that leads to an unsightly appearance and more importantly, a reduction in the vehicle’s value.
4: Clean Your Windows
To clean the inside of your car’s windows, you can use either a glass cleaner such as Windex or a damp microfibre towel to cut through the grease and debris. Gently wipe the window in a circular motion to avoid any linear streaks.
Ensuring that your windows are clean and streak free will help you pin-point any new cracks or rock chips in your windshield or side windows. Spotting these early and intervening immediately is essential to limiting the spread of the cracks and avoiding a very costly replacement.
While it may seem simple or not a priority, detailing your vehicle on a regular basis and maintaining its cleanliness has a number of short and long-term benefits. Overall, a clean interior and exterior can extend the life of your vehicle and lead to better physical and mental health, safer driving, and a higher value should you ever choose to trade it in or sell.