Your car has probably spent weeks sitting in the garage gathering dust. Now that the end of lockdown is in sight, it’s time to make it sparkle again before you journey with it into the great outdoors. Having a clean car is almost like having a new car and it’s just so much nicer to drive around in.
Pieter Niemand, National Director of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says dirt and dust can settle in so many out-of-the-way places, especially when a car’s been sitting idle for some time. A dirty car doesn’t look great, but the bigger problem is that a layer of grime on your vehicle can damage the finish and make it wear down faster than it should, resulting in rust and other issues.
“Ideally owners should wash their cars once a week,” said Niemand. “Along with regular maintenance, it helps maintain resale value more than people realise.”
So, before you take your vehicle on that long-awaited post-lockdown spin, consider giving it a home valet by following these twenty easy steps.
- Remove any rubbish from inside the vehicle – slide seats forward and remove floor mats to ensure you don’t miss any hidden wrappers.
- Using a dry paintbrush, dust the vents of your air conditioner or fan and suck up the dust as you brush with a handheld vacuum to prevent it settling elsewhere in the vehicle.
- Clean all the knobs and buttons on your dashboard and doors with the brush and vacuum.
- If you’re handy, remove the cabin air filter and replace with a new one. This should be done about once a year and can affect the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems if it’s clogged. It’s a fairly easy DIY task, and is usually accessed by removing the cubby-hole or glove box. Consult your car’s manual for details on this.
- Use a pencil eraser to gently scrub any sticky patches off vinyl or leather.
- Scrub any dirt off vinyl with an old toothbrush and diluted dishwashing liquid.
- Polish the hard plastic on your vehicle with a little olive oil on a paper towel. Use the same to wipe down the dashboard and cup holders for a shiny odour-free result.
- Using a spray bottle of water and a squeegee, collect any pet hair from your upholstery and then vacuum up the clumps of fur afterwards.
- Using a toothbrush, remove crumbs and dirt from the seams of your seat cushions and vacuum them up.
- Clean the upholstery in the car with an all-purpose cleaner, a scrubbing brush and a sponge. Avoid drenching the fabric by dipping the brush in the cleaning solution and scrubbing out stains. Spray with linen spray once you’re done to ensure your car smells fresh.
- Clean any child car seats with the same technique above and use a toothbrush to reach any tricky corners.
- Apply stain remover to any stains on floor mats and wash them in the washing machine (or scrub with upholstery cleaner as above) and air dry.
- Hang an air freshener in your car to keep it smelling fresh (or make your own with bicarbonate of soda and essential oils in a bag)
- Wash the outside of your vehicle with car soap (not dishwashing soap as it can damage the finish but baby shampoo can also work) and warm water, using a sponge.
- Clean your windshield with steel wool and glass cleaner or vinegar.
- Clean your windows with glass cleaner or vinegar – and remember to roll them down to ensure you clean the grime from the tops too.
- Wipe windshield wipers with rubbing alcohol – this will prevent them making smears on your windscreen.
- Mix bicarbonate of soda with warm water and use to remove stubborn bugs from your grille and bumper.
- Shine your headlights with toothpaste and water.
- Use wheel cleaner or vinegar and a brush to clean your car’s wheels, rubbing dry with a sponge or towel to polish the aluminium rims.
Your car will look and feel so much more pleasant when it’s been properly cleaned and you’ll want to spend time in it. Now the next step is to wait for the green light from government to take your clean car out for a spin!