5 The Devil is in the Details
We vacuum and clean the dashboard and give the windows a wash – but we forget about all the small nooks and crannies. We forget about the door handles, the window latches, the locks and the mirrors. Wherever your fingers touch there is going to be oil and dirt left behind. It bothers me so much to see a perfectly clean car but the area around the lock or the windshield wiper dial is all gunked up with years of filth – or I see the gear-shifter’s leather is worn because it had never been conditioned, or the seatbelts haven’t been cleaned in years and they are covered in black filthy smudges. If you’re cleaning your car, concentrate on the details, because they’ll only stand out more as they get worse and other parts of your car stay clean.
4 Choose where you park
When parking under trees, you might end up with sap on the body of your car. Park in direct sunlight all the time and your paint will fade along with the luster of the interior. If you can’t park in a covered area, then make sure you at least avoid parking near or under rain run-off. Check for hanging ice and snow in cold climates, too. I had a friend park on the side of a garage where there was heavy sheet of ice up on the roof. The next morning, the sun had heated the ice sheet up enough for it to slide off and crash down onto his car, denting the roof and breaking his windshield. Oops.
3 Spot Clean the Serious Stuff
I just said to spot clean the interior, but you should do this with the exterior too. This means hardcore bird poop or the worst, tree sap, should be cleaned immediately. These elements should be removed as soon as possible even if you aren’t going to do a full wash because they can slowly eat into the paint of your car and do some major cosmetic damage. Everyone has a different way of cleaning this stuff off, so find the best way for you.
2 Proper Interior Cleaning With the Right Cleaners
Using the right chemical and cleaner for the right material is super important, as the wrong cleaner on the wrong material could cause damage. Cars have so many types of materials inside: vinyl, rubber, leather, cloth and metal, so make sure you know everything about the product you are using. There are many gentle, higher-end cleaners and lower-end cheap cleaners to choose from, so do your research for what fits your needs. I try to clean my interior once a month at least, even if it is not looking dirty, just to keep up. If you have kids or pets you may want to clean more often. Always spot clean major stains or messes right away or they will end up being impossible to clean later.
1 Wash When Dirty
Some of us have the time and the space (and money) to get our cars washed once a week. If you can, then do it. Make sure you are following the proper washing tips (such as not using dish soap or letting your car air/sun dry) or going to a car wash that has folks who know how to properly wash a vehicle (What I’m saying is, don’t go to an automatic bristle-wash that costs 1.00 behind an old gas station built in 1960). However many of us don’t have the luxury of getting our cars washed every week, so I often go by the rule: wash when dirty. When I don’t want to brush up against my car because it might dirty my clothes, or its looking… well, not so clean, I wash it.