Getting your car detailed can be pricey, but heading into the warmer months with a nice clean car is always a treat. The good news is that you can save quite a bit by doing it yourself, and it’s not that difficult, either.
Start With The Interior
Cleaning the interior of your car first ensures you don’t muck up the exterior while you’re getting in all the corners. The interior takes longer to do, but you also enjoy immediate benefits.
Removing dirt improves air quality and scent, ensures mechanisms work smoothly, and makes everything look as close to new as possible.
Get In Crevices
Detailing a car is much more than just cleaning it. You need to delve into every nook and cranny within the cabin and around the doors. All you need are inexpensive cleaning items to get into small spaces such as cotton swabs, a wooden skewer, and a soft toothbrush or paint brush to rid the vents, seams, controls, knobs, and crevices of debris.
Go gently – you do not want to scratch the leather or vinyl as you remove dirt. Remove the mats and clean them separately. Vacuum all areas, including around and under the seats, the back window area, and the trunk. Use soft microfiber clothes to remove any remaining debris.
Clean Fabric, Vinyl, or Leather
Clean vinyl door panels, consoles, the dash, and seat backs with a proper vinyl cleaner and a soft brush. Start at the top and work down. Do not clean aggressively or you could remove the texture on vinyl.
Clean fabric seats, carpets, and mats with a foaming aerosol cleaner. Follow the instructions and vacuum the residue once it dries. Alternatively, steam-clean the seats after pre-treating stains with a gentle stain remover.
Buy a leather cleaning kit for leather seats, and follow the instructions. Typically, a kit includes a conditioner you apply before you apply the cleaner and the leather protection cream.
Clean The Glass
You may need to wash the outside of the window before you clean the interior so you can see the dirt.
Wipe the interior of the windows with a clean, dry microfiber cloth using a circular motion. Flip the towel and wipe up and down. Spray automotive glass cleaner onto a clean towel, and use circular and then up and down motions to remove it. Always wipe spots of cleaner off the dash so it does not stain.
Do a final vacuuming to pick up any cleaning dust and bits you missed on the first pass. You may want to add a car deodorizer at this time, too.
Wash & Dry Exterior
Wash your car with car detergent. Don’t use dish or laundry detergent – they’re harsh on the paint. Don’t wash in direct sunlight, start at the top and work your way down using a lamb’s wool mitt. Rinse the mitt often in a bucket of clean water. Clean the door jambs and under the doors well.
Dry your car with a chamois to eliminate water spots. Run your hand over the paint. If it feels rough, buy a clay bar and gently pull it across the body to remove dirt particles lodged in the paint.
Clean The Tires & Rims
Use a caustic-free wheel cleaner that can’t harm the wheel’s finish. Scrub with a sponge and a soft-bristled brush. Rinse well with clean water and check for any spots you missed.
Lubricate Window Tracks & Hinges
Lubricate window tracks with silicone spray so they slide easily and do not put strain on window motors.
Clean the hood, truck, gas tank, and door hinges with a clean rag and apply lithium grease to both sides of the hinge. Move the hinge back and forth several times to work the grease in and wipe off the excess.
Repair Paint Chips
Repair small paint chips with a color-matched paint pen or brush to prevent rusting. Take your time and do the work carefully.
Compound Your Car
If your car has many minor scratches and buff marks, you’ll need to use buffing compound. Use a rotary buffer, add a few drops to the pad, and start on low speed. Gradually increase the speed and once you’ve removed the scratches, remove the residue with grease remover.
Seal Your Car
Wax or seal your car with a good quality product and a clean buffing wheel. You can do this manually if you wish, but don’t work in the sun. Work in small areas and buff to a high gloss.
Don’t Omit The Final “Detail”
Now that your car’s looking its best, you’ll want to protect your investment and everyone who rides in your car, and the state-mandated minimum auto insurance coverages just don’t cut it.
Once you’ve finished detailing your car, give your insurance agent a quick call. They’ll tailor your policy to your needs so you don’t pay for unnecessary frills and direct your money to where coverage matters most. You can have good coverage that suits your budget.