Getting your car professionally detailed gets pricey fast, but frequent cleaning is an important habit to keep your vehicle in good condition- That’s why many drivers opt for an affordable DIY Detail.
Here are some tips, product recommendations and advice to save you some time and money when you’re detailing your car.
Find a comfortable workstation
Even with the best tools and strategy, detailing your car is a physical job. Make sure to wait for a day with comfortable temperatures, or if you have a garage- use that.
If you’re using a hose, or a vacuum- be mindful of the chords and hoses to avoid mixing water and electricity and any snags on your vehicle.
Start with the Interior
Just like when you wash a cup, you clean the inside before the outside- removing debris from the interior can dirty the exterior as well. Start by removing any garbage, then a quick vacuum- and move onto the hard surfaces.
The Two Bucket Method
Whether you opt for a fancy car wash liquid, or a gentle (and affordable) combination of warm water and a little dish soap- you’ll need one bucket for washing, and one for rinsing to avoid leaving your car with an ugly cast of soap residue.
While you’re at it, make sure to have lots of rags on hand (We love microfibre cloths) to avoid smudges or damage- and use a light hand when you’re working on the exterior paint, and more delicate vehicle interior surfaces.
Use Gentle Tools
Many modern vehicle interiors use high-gloss finishes, like piano-black or chrome. These surfaces gleam in the sun and have a high-end look and feel, though they’re also dust magnets, and easy to scratch.
To properly clean glossy trim without causing scratches that’ll dull the surface, you need to be gentle. Never rub or scrub at these surfaces harder than you need to, and consider using a Swiffer duster and some soft-bristle paint-brushes from your local craft store to safely and effectively remove irritating dust and dirt from glossy surfaces, nooks and crannies etc.
Chrome Polish, or Alternative
If you have chrome wheels, chrome trim and badging or tail pipes- a Chrome or metal polish will do the job best- but WD40 on a clean rag will get it done with a lustrous and slick shine.
Be Careful with the Screens
Most modern vehicles have a center display screen for the infotainment system, and a digital screen for vehicle information like speed, fuel range and the like. These screens can be finicky and delicate- so make sure to check your owners manual for specific instructions on how to care for them. Generally, Phone screen and eyeglass cleaners will do the trick just fine.
Rinse (and Repeat)
Start with a thorough rinse with lots of water to loosen up the dirt on the surface of your vehicle. Once you do a general once over, do it once more- focusing on the grooves of your vehicle.
Don’t touch the paint with your hands
Your car’s paint can be damaged easily, and scratches can make a once shiny car look dull and faded.
If it can be avoided- try to touch your paint as little as possible. Use a gentle high quality soap with a sponge or soft rag so you can avoid excessive scrubbing.
Replace your bucket
Your vehicle’s wheels and tires are usually the dirtiest part of your vehicle- as they’re typically covered with brake dust, bits of metal and anything you pick up driving around, so wash these first with a sponge and a fresh bucket, then empty the bucket and replace it with clean soapy water and a new sponge.
Using one pail and sponge for your wheels, and another for everything else, prevents cross-contamination of abrasive particles from damaging your ride’s paint, helping it last longer and look better for years to come.