A simple car wash is an easy way to clean up the exterior of your car in a hurry, but if you really want to look good on the road, auto detailing is where it’s at. This involves focusing on the details of your car, both inside and out, to help your ride look its very best on the road. Auto detailing services are available, but if you have the time and the elbow grease, you can clean your car yourself.
Supplies You Need
Before you settle into an afternoon of auto detailing, make sure you have all the tools of the trade on hand. Your specific supplies depend on the level of detail you want to achieve, but here’s a list to get you started:
- Handheld vacuum cleaner with multiple attachments
- Scrub brushes and old toothbrushes
- Towels, cloths and rags of varying thickness and materials
- Cotton swabs
- Upholstery cleaner
- Surface protector for vinyl and leather seats
- Carpet cleaner
- All-purpose cleaner
- Auto glass cleaner
- General car washing supplies, including a hose, water-filled bucket, soap, sponge and wax
Detailing the Inside of Your Car
Start on the interior. The order you complete tasks isn’t crucial, but here’s an example of the steps you may want to take:
Remove floor mats and shake the dirt out. Vacuum these mats and the rest of your car’s carpeting. Spray carpet cleaner on stains and scrub them with a stiff brush. Use as little moisture as possible to prevent mold growth, and allow the carpet to dry fully before laying the floor mats back down.
Vacuum the seats and remove stains following the directions on your upholstery cleaning product. If you have vinyl or leather seats, apply surface protector. Leave the car doors open to help speed up the drying process.
Clean non-cloth portions of each door with a rag dipped in soapy water. Use cotton swabs and an old toothbrush to target cracks and crevices where dirt can collect. Thoroughly dry each door before moving on to the next one.
Spray auto glass cleaner on window interiors. Cleaning the glass with your car parked in the shade helps prevent streaking. Use a Reach and Clean tool to make cleaning the windshield easier.
Steering wheel column, dashboard and center console
Dampen a rag with all-purpose cleaner or soapy water. Wipe down these surfaces to remove dust and grime. Carefully clean around knobs, buttons and seams with cotton swabs and a toothbrush to remove buildup. Dry all surfaces with a soft cloth and apply surface protector to vinyl and leather surfaces.
Detailing the Outside of Your Car
Now it’s time to break out the water hose and clean your car on the exterior. Follow these steps:
Dislodge stubborn mud and dirt with a hose and scrub your hubcaps with a stiff brush to leave them sparkling clean.
Fill a bucket with soap and water. Be sure to use soap made specifically for cars to prevent stripping off any existing wax. Dunk a sponge in the water and wash one small area at a time. Change out the water as it becomes soiled to prevent dirt and sand from lodging in your sponge and scratching the finish.
Detail small areas around your headlights, taillights, indentations in door handles and side mirrors with small brushes. Continue spraying down cleaned areas so the car remains wet until you’re ready to dry it. Once you’re satisfied that every part of your car’s exterior is clean, dry it with a clean cotton cloth or chamois.
This is also the time to wax your car if you desire. Once the wax dries, check for areas of dried wax and clean these off with a small brush.
The final step is to check that the windshield and window exteriors are clean. Wiping glass with newspaper is a surprisingly effective way to achieve a streak-free shine. The technique works on side mirrors as well.
Keep Your Car in Good Shape at Scott’s Fort Collins Auto
Once you clean your car, you’ll love driving around in style. However, what’s going on under the hood is even more important. Remember to make car tune-ups and oil changes a priority to help your car last. Stop by Scott’s Fort Collins Auto & Repair for service today. You can also schedule your appointment ahead of time or call us at (970) 682-4202 to let us know when you plan to stop by.