Friday, December 28, 2018

13 Car Cleaning Hacks to Soothe Your Inner Neat Freak

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Your car naturally gathers dirt, dust, and grime if you drive it frequently. Sometimes, a quick cleanup can be enough to restore its shine. But other times, especially after a long or rough drive, only deep cleaning can turn your car back to its original sleek state.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional (or pay for a professional) to give your vehicle some much-needed TLC. If you’re obsessed with keeping your car clean, here are some pro-level car cleaning hacks to soothe your inner neat freak.

Park Your Car in a Shaded Area

Sunshine has a lot of benefits. Being exposed to sunlight turns cholesterol in your body into vitamin D, alleviates symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and helps eliminate germs. Unfortunately, sunshine isn’t as good for cars as it is for people.

For one, the heat of the sun combined with humidity can cause oxidation and ruin your vehicle’s paint. Plus, high temperatures are generally bad for machines. So when you’re cleaning your car, it’s recommended to park it in a shaded area like your garage. Or if that’s not possible, clean early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat.

Rinse the Entire Exterior

True neat freaks never get their car dirty to the point that you can’t see its original color under the dirt and grime, but the road is a dangerous and unpredictable place. If you were unfortunate enough to get your car than messy, start your cleaning routine by rinsing the whole exterior with water. But before you do that, make sure all the windows and doors are tightly sealed to prevent water from getting in your car and ruining the interior.

Use a house or pressure cleaning to remove thick grit and hardened mud from the exterior. Wiping will only spread the mess all over the car exterior. You can also use a pressure washer to remove stubborn grit, but you should be careful as the pressure may dislodge some parts or cause the paint to peel.

Start with the Wheels First

The wheels are usually the dirtiest part and take considerable time and effort to clean. Plus, mud and dirt may splash and mess up areas you’ve cleaned while cleaning the wheels. So better to start with the tires first. 

Use a fire nozzle hose to remove grit and brake dust stuck on the wheels and rims. Wheels are usually made from alloys, so use a nonacidic cleaner to avoid damaging the finish. You can remove remaining dirt with a soft-bristled brush and rinse everything with clean water then wipe the wheels dry to prevent unsightly watermarks.

Big vehicles, like trucks and SUV, frequently collect a lot of mud and dirt in the wheels due to the size of the tires. And they tend to splash mud and debris on other vehicles too, especially when they speed up. If you drive a Toyota Tundra, Dodge Ram, or Ford Ranger, consider getting some much-needed fender flares to give your wheels some protection, as well as to avoid messing up other vehicles on the road.

Clean from Top to Bottom

After the wheels, clean from top to bottom, starting with the roof then the sides and windows, leaving the bumpers for last. By doing it this way, you can avoid messing up the places you’ve already cleaned. Plus, it can make cleaning the bottom part easier as the water and shampoo that have trickled down can soften and rinse out the dirt below. This saves time, energy, cleaning shampoo, and water.

Wipe with Microfiber Cloth

Microfiber cloth is a durable, lightweight fabric that’s perfect for cleaning. It also absorbs more water than cotton cloth, up to seven times its weight in water. Microfiber cloth catches dirt and microbiomes better, so you don’t have to use a lot of cleaning products and water to clean a surface. Plus, it’s soft and plush and won’t scratch your vehicle’s paintwork.

Microfiber cloth can also clean grease and fingerprints on glass surfaces, even without the aid of a glass cleaner. It’s relatively low-maintenance and can be cleaned in a normal cycle using an ordinary detergent. Microfiber cloth is basically the ultimate cleaning tool.

Avoid Household Cleaners at All Cost

Using household cleaners to clean a car is a mortal sin. It’s a big no-no, and whoever does this should not be trusted to take care of any vehicle. Dishwashing soap may be perfect for cleaning greasy plates, but that same grease-stripping component strips off the protective wax of your car, making it vulnerable to harmful UV rays and the elements.

Choose cleaning products that are made for vehicles as they have special ingredients that clean your car while maintaining and even strengthening its protective coating. There are specific cleaning products for different surfaces, so make sure to check first before you use anything to clean your car.

Remove Microscopic Contaminants with Clay Bar

Even after thorough wiping and rinsing, microscopic contaminants can remain on the surface of your car. These small particles can cause scratches on your vehicle and dull the paintwork. Fortunately, you can remove these invisible (to the naked eye) contaminants using a clay bar.

Clay bars are available in two grades—medium and fine. A fine-grade clay bar can get rid of most surface contaminants. To use it, spray some lubricant on the surface of your vehicle, and gently wipe with the flattened clay bar.

Check the clay disk. If the side is full of contaminants, fold it until you find a clean area, flatten the clay, and continue wiping. After using the clay, remove residue lubricants using a microfiber cloth.

Dry Your Car Manually with Cloth

Drying is a crucial step in cleaning your car. It should be done manually, with a clean microfiber cloth. Air-drying your car can cause leftover moisture and product residue to harden and leave unsightly marks on your car, not to mention give it a dull sheen as if you didn’t clean it at all.

This step applies to all parts of your car, even the wheels. Moisture, especially when combined with heat, is an insidious thing that sneakily chips off the protective layer on your vehicle.

Apply Wax for Protection

After washing and drying, the final step is applying wax on the exterior. Waxing protects your car from oxidation, which ruins the paintwork and allows rust to develop. It also makes your vehicle shine as if it were brand-new.

Use a pad applicator, and apply wax on your car in an up-and-down motion. Leave it to dry, and use a clean, dry microfiber buffing cloth to polish the surface and bring out the glossy sheen.

Declutter the Interior

To clean the interior of your car, you must first get rid of the trash and items that are cluttering the inside. Throw out wrappers, receipts, tissue, and whatnots littering the floor. Create order in your glove compartment using a box organizer, and prevent crumbs and items from falling into the space between the front seats with a gap cover. Finally, get rid of items that don’t belong in your car, and store the ones that do in car seat organizers.

Clean All over the Interior

Remove the floor mats to wash them later. Once that’s done, run the vacuum along the ceiling, dashboard, sides, seats, boot, and floor to remove dust and small particles on these surfaces. Wipe and disinfect the dashboard, air-conditioning vents, windshield, and windows with a clean cloth and appropriate products to remove remaining dirt, grease, and grime. For car-seat stains, you can either wash the cover or use a special cleaner to clean car upholstery.

After everything is everything’s wiped and disinfected, run the vacuum again just to remove leftover dust then use the deodorizing spray to get rid of stinky smells. You can put back the floor mats after they’ve been washed and dried.

Keep a Trash Bin in Your Car

Always have a trash bin or bag in your car to help keep it clutter-free. With a trash bin, most of the litter can be gathered in one place, and you can throw it out at the end of the day. Even with a trash bin inside, you shouldn’t frequently eat in your car as it can spread food crumbs, which can attract ants or other insects. Trash bins won’t prevent liquid spills too, so be careful when you’re drinking (hopefully, nothing alcoholic) inside.

Do Basic Maintenance

Don’t stop at cleaning your car. While you’re at it, why not do a round of maintenance to see if everything is still running well? Check the engine oil and other car fluids to see if they need to be refilled or replaced.

Your car’s manufacturer’s manual usually has details about when it is appropriate to change the car fluids, but it’s always better to see for yourself since the car conditions vary according to how the vehicle is used.

Lost or flat tires can be catastrophic on the road, so check if your tires are well-aligned and adequately inflated. Windshield wiper blades should be replaced every six months. If you’ve used yours long enough, look them over, and see if you need replacements.

You can use this basic maintenance guide to know what and when to check in your car and keep it in running smoothly.

Final Takeaway

Keeping your car clean is crucial to extending its life span and retaining its sleek, shiny look. Dirt, grit, and contaminants not only ruins the paintwork of your vehicle; they also strip off its protective layer, making it vulnerable to the elements and damage. Whether you’re a compulsive neat freak or not, it’s in your best interest as a car owner to maintain the cleanliness of your car.

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