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WASHING THE INSIDE

The inside of the car is subjected to all sorts of smelly accidents resulting out of children eating and spilling, pets littering, adults spilling beverages and lots more. The dust on the soles of shoes accumulate over time and become very difficult to remove. So in order to effectively clean the interior, the seats should be removed. Removing the seats may need some exercise but it makes cleaning easier when the car has been heavily soiled by shoes or food spilling by making a lot more space to maneuver and access the affected places. Of course you need your car to be devoid of any contaminant and odour causing unhealthy remains.

Interior cleaning starts by vacuuming out the loose, dry dirt. Before that, take out the rugs and seat covers, if any. Get rid of the dust and dirt by repeated suctions. If they are still dirty, it is best to give the cloth surfaces in the car a shampoo of some kind. If you do this, wait until the rugs and seats are dry before continuing.

Use lint-free towels and clean water for the dash board. Cotton swabs can be used to pick out dirt from the small, enclosed spots. The rugs can be dusted by stiff-bristled brushes outside the car.

The plastics need to be washed by some cleaning detergents or otherwise the grime stays. They cannot be washed by vaccuuming or by dusting with brushes. If the interior is just dusty, not dirty, just give it quick wipe with a soft rag. Care should be taken while cleaning the instruments. The extremely delicate surfaces can be damaged easily by hard chemicals so it is recommended to clean these surfaces with a clean terry cloth or a soft brush and water.

It is suggestive that specific cleaning products for specific surfaces should be used. There are different cleaners for different surfaces like leather, plastic, wood, vinyl, upholstery etc. The specific formula for one may cause a permanent damage to another.

For carpet areas, use a small amount of a carpet cleaning product and a small amount of water with a stiff-bristle brush. It is very important to let the carpet dry thoroughly before closing the vehicle up tight. Don't use ammonia or any similar harsh chemical to clean seatbelts, either. They could weaken the webbing, affecting the belts' ability to protect you during a crash.

Make sure you do not leave the dash board shining after cleaning it with some chemical as this can reflect light and may lead to unsafe driving.

Plastic conditioners can sometimes be hazardous when applied to the steering wheel or the gear knob. These conditioners stay somewhat slippery for almost a week or two and can lead to unpleasant conditions while driving.

Leather in the car should be taken better care of since they tend to wither if not subjected to occasional conditioning.

Lastly, come the windows. To prevent any water or chemical mark or any hand prints, windows should be cleaned last. Terry cloth/lint free towels along with clean water can effectively clean them up. Ammonia should be avoided for the purpose as it is said to destroy the thin tint film on the inside of the window.

Before replacing the seats, make sure to clean the seat runners as these are often overloaded with dust-collecting grease. Leave some grease behind as some is needed for the seat to operate correctly. Now, carefully lift the seat back into the vehicle, making sure not to mar the door jambs or interior panels.

The interior done, we can now move towards the exterior. If you need a good, fresh feeling once inside the car or if you are going to pick up a long lost friend, you better spray some air freshner inside your car. This will definitely throw an inviting spring freshness to the inside.

WASHING THE EXTERIOR

Before you start cleaning the exterior, you should keep in mind certain facts:


* Wash your vehicle one section at a time with a car wash product. For wheels, use a wheel cleaner and a different sponge or brush, not the one you use on the paint.

* Never use dishwashing liquid or household detergents for car washing. These may damage the paint as they are not formulated to remove dust and grime from car surfaces.

* Cars should not be washed or waxed in direct sunlight. Instead choose a cloudy day or perform the task in diffused sunlight or shade.

* Water can leave behind marks if not wiped out immediately after the wash.

* Make sure there is a ready supply of water because car washing needs huge amount of water. Also you need a soft bristle brush, a terry cloth or terry towel.

* Waxing 4-5 times a year helps protect the paint.

* Bird's droppings, tree saps, insects marks, mud blobs should be instantly removed. After long they become very difficult to remove and thus tend to intermingle with the paint.

* A high pressure wash should be handled with care. This can sandblast the finish.

* Dry up your car in a shaded area and avoid direct sunlight. Paid car washers do not usually have shady places to dry up the cars. It is thus best to avoid them.

* Make sure you don't have any clothes with metal buttons (or jeans with rivets, or whatever). When you are leaning and stretching to get to those hard to reach spots, you may scratch the car body.

* You should wash your car for about once a week to get rid of all the contaminants that are constantly etching the paint.

Don't forget to do these before starting:

The main objective of good car washing is the removal of all dirt and contaminants. Park your car in a shady place on a dry warm day to prevent drying up some parts of the car before others while cleaning, leaving behind unwanted residue marks.

Hose down the entire car with water to remove loose dirt. Wash and rinse one section at a time-working from top to bottom-to prevent a section from drying too quickly and leaving deposits or residue. Gently rub the surface with a sponge or soft-bristled brush. Aggressive rubbing may lead to bad unremovable scratch marks. Keep the water in the bucket clean by occasionaly changing it and rinse the cloth or sponge you are using often to get rid of the accumulated dirt that may be grinded to the paint if not removed. Use the hose as often as you can to carry down the dirt. I like to wash the wheels and the lower parts of the car first, because they are often the dirtiest areas. After the final rinse, wipe the excess water from the vehicle surface with a clean terry cloth to prevent water spotting.

WASHING

First, you want to be totally prepared. Adding appropriate amount of car washing liquid into the bucket, add a high speed water jet to it. This will make up some amount of lather in the bucket. Put the washmitt or the sponge into the bucket. Cleaning different portions of the car rather than all at once gives a more professional look.


Wheels and wheel covers:

I prefer to wash the wheels first. In some cars, due to the accumulation of brake dust, the front wheels look durtier than the rear wheels. Don't worry! A good wheel care solvent can handle the situation. Choose a wheel, rinse it, then spray wheel cleaner on the tire and rim. Scrub the wheel with a brush other than the one kept for washing the car body, of any mud or dirt. Apply a spray of water under low pressure if needed. Make sure the wheel cleaner does not dry on the rims, which may lead to either corrosion or tampering of the varnish. Repeat scrubbing the wheel surface to get rid of any residues of mud, dirt, tar or bugs. Rinse well when finished. Do each wheel the same way. Take care to select the proper wheel care solvent specific for plastic or metal covers and read the directions carefully. Referring to the manual may be effective in this respect.

Tires:

Applying a little protectant to the tires helps to improve the appearance of your vehicle giving it that extra glow. Consulting your manual to pick out the specific protectant needed for the purpose will be the best help.

Car Body:

Now you wash your car from the top to the bottom. Take the bucket with the washmitt and start from the roof of your car. Rub lightly to prevent any sort of scratches. Rubbing sections of the car and hosing it down to prevent soap residues is recommended. Make sure you get every square inch of the car. Use a soft bristled brush, if necessary, to scrub out the bird droppings or tree sap gently and scrub straight instead of the circular motion.

Then, wash your windows using the sponge and rinse. Next, wash the trunk and hood and rinse. Then wash the doors, bumpers, fenders, etc. and rinse. Once you have scrubbed the entire exterior of the car, hose it down thoroughly to rinse all of the soap and dirt off. While you are at it, hose off the undercarriage of the car to rinse any mud, salt, and grime that may have accumulated there.

Almost done. Remaining is the drying part. Letting the car dry can leave water droplet spots, which may hamper the shine. Also driving out to dry your car may not get the entire surface dry. Take a dry sponge cloth or absorber and quickly wipe out the entire surface absorbing all the giant water droplets.

Next, take another cloth and carefully wipe down the entire car top to bottom. This time, make sure you leave no droplets behind. Dry the painted surfaces first. Then follow up with the windows. Wring the cloth frequently. Use a cotton terry towel to dry your wheels and tires. You now have a nice, dry, clean and clear car ready to be waxed.

Dressing the tires

Choose an appopriate tire dressing from the store and spray onto the tire dressing applicator and apply to tires. Leave the dressing on the tires for 12 to 24 hours, then take a cotton terry towel and wipe down the tires. This will remove extra tire dressing.

Waxing Procedure


Waxing once in two months leaves your car in a healthy condition. There is no need to wax your car every time you wash it but I generally go for a wax job once a month.

What you should bear in mind before start-up:


* Cool your car by keeping it for a long time under shade.
* Wash the vehicle immediately before waxing.
* Make sure you do not have mud or tree sap stains or bird droppings on your car.
* There should be less moisture content in the air.
* You can remove the swirl marks with a swirl remover.
* Work in shade.


Choose small sections of the car and apply the wax at a time using either a foam pad or a small terry cloth towel. Apply the wax in overlapping strokes or circular motions. Wait for a section to dry to a haze before wiping the wax off with soft, terry cloth towels. Try not to get any wax on any textured plastic surfaces you may have on the outside of the car, as it may be tough to get off. Wipe in both directions, turning the towels often. Shake the towels to remove accumulated wax. After finishing, wipe out the entire vehicle taking special care of the corners, edges, nooks, crannies, door jambs which can acuumulate excess wax residues and give trouble getting the wax out of. The cracks and crevices need extra attention since they can mar the entire look of the car.

Finally, some people like to rinse off and dry the car one more time to cool off and harden the wax.


The finishing touch

Finally, clean the glasses of the windows and mirrors using a glass cleaner and old news paper. Use a vinyl conditioner on the tires. All set. You can now show off your sparkling chariot to everyone as you drive by.

If you carry out all of the procedures outlined above, the hours you invest will result in a vehicle that will be considerably easier to keep clean in the future with a routine of weekly or biweekly washing. Combine your washing regimen with a good waxing and interior detailing every three months and the whole process will become quicker and easier each time you do it.