10 TIPS FOR CLEANING YOUR CAR
Friday, April 1st, 2022 - 9:00 AM
Unless you're a car fanatic like we are here at Monicatti Auto Sales
& Service, washing your car can be a bit of a hassle, especially if
your car doesn't end up looking much better than when you started.
With the right tools and the right methods, you can get your car
looking like a brand-new showroom piece!
However, before you just throw some soap and water at your ride,
read on for our top 10 tips for cleaning your car the RIGHT way!
#1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME TO WASH
While this might sound a bit arbitrary, picking the right day and
even TIME of day to wash your car can make a difference. Don't
try to wash your car in extreme cold or heat. If it's too cold, obviously
the water will freeze and make things extremely difficult for you. If
it's too hot, the water will evaporate quickly and form grimy residues
before you have a chance to wipe them off.
Dark colored cars can absorb so much heat that they become hot to
the touch. This not only burns your hands and fingers, but it can also
affect some of the chemicals used for washing and detailing your car.
#2. REMOVE THE TRASH
Before you clean the outside, start with the interior. Remove any obvious
trash from the ash trays, doors, seat pockets, glovebox and other interior
storage spaces. Don't forget to check under the seats for food wrappers,
missing sunglasses or even misplaced money (HEY, you never know!).
If you use seat mats, take them out and clean them separately. If they're
rubber, wash them with warm soapy water.
#3. VACUUM THE SEATS & CARPETS
Once all of the trash has been removed, it's time to get out the vacuum!
Oftentimes, dirt gets into tough to reach places. So you may need to
loosen it up or get it out into an open area where the vacuum nozzle
can reach it. You can use a stiff brush (like an old toothbrush) to
If you have a pet that frequently rides in your car, chances are you
have pet hair on your seats or in the carpet. Try using a moistened
rubber glove or wrap sticky tape around your hand with the sticky
side facing outwards to clean it up.
Finally - and this is a pretty cool trick - use a compressed air canister
to blow dust and dirt out of the little nooks and crannies that you
can't reach with the brush or the vacuum nozzle.
#4. CLEAN THE DASH AND INSTRUMENT PANEL
We're not quite done with the interior yet! The dash and instrument
panel can collect a lot of dust. However, these areas are more delicate,
so use a damp cloth on the dash and controls. There are also dash
and upholstery cleaning products for these areas, which can help.
Try using a soft paintbrush to get dust out from the rims of the
instrument dials if needed.
*NOTE* Don't be tempted to use any silicone sprays that add shine
to your interior. A shiny dash can create horrible glare and make it
difficult to see when driving. Also, if any overspray gets onto the
pedals it can make them slippery, which can also be dangerous.
#5. CLEAN THE DOOR SILLS & DOOR OPENINGS
Finally, while you have all of the doors open, grab a bucket of clean,
soapy water and clean the door sills and door openings. These are
easily overlooked during a regular car wash, but will stick out like a
sore thumb when you open the doors later.
#6. THE SCIENCE OF WASHING
If you look around or ask around enough, you will get all kinds of
advice for the best way to wash your car. We suggest you start by
rinsing the car off with a steady stream of water to get all of the
loose dirt off. This will help reduce the risk of rubbing dirt into the
paint later on.
Once the entire car has been rinsed off and most of the loose dirt has
been cleared, it's time to wash the car. Grab a clean bucket and fill it
with a mixture of warm water and car washing solution. Do NOT
use household detergents as this can strip away any protective wax
layers from the paint.
Next, grab a car washing glove or a large sponge and start from the
roof and work your way down the sides, front and rear of the car. This
gives the car wash solution a little more time to soak into the grimiest
areas near the bottom and means the water in your bucket stays cleaner
for longer. If the water in your bucket becomes too dirty, it is a good
idea to empty and re-fill it to keep from washing your car with dirty
water or even scratching the paint with small bits of dirt.
If you find any stubborn spots, don't keep rubbing away at them because
this could damage the paint. Instead, try using a tar and bug remover
spray. And if you have any dirt that appears to be bonded into the
paint, you can use a clay bar to remove it. However, be sure to read
the instructions carefully to prevent from doing any damage.
It is not necessary to wax your car every time you wash it. Most
detailing experts suggest that you wax your car 2-4 times per year.
There are even car wash solutions that contain wax in them and help
to preserve your wax layers in between waxes.
First you need to rinse off the car and allow it to fully dry. However,
do not allow the water to puddle and dry naturally because this will
often leave some residue, even if it looks clean. Instead, use a leather
or silicone squeegee or a chamois. These are not designed to dry the
surface on contact, but rather spreads the water out into a thin layer
that evaporates more quickly and cleanly.
Next it is time to apply the wax. Follow the instructions carefully
from the manufacturer's bottle that you are using. It may seem
counter-intuitive, but in the case of waxing your car, less is more.
A good application of wax is not very visible. The smallest and most
thin layer is the best and most effective way to apply. For applying
the wax, follow these steps:
Apply some wax to an applicator. This can be a small foam
or microfiber pad or a special finishing pad on a waxing/
Rub the wax all over all of the body panels on the car. This
can be done using small circles or straight lines. A thin layer
is better and should be so thin that you have to look at the
surface in the light to see what you have already done.
After the entire car has been coated in wax, allow it to dry
and haze. The time needed for this depends on the product
itself as well as the humidity and temperature. Lower
temperatures slow down the hazing while higher temperatures
speed up the hazing. If you want to test and see if the wax is
finished hazing, perform the "swipe test".
Wrap a piece of a microfiber towel over the end of
Swipe the waxed area with the towel-covered finger
in much the same way that you would swipe a
If the wax is done hazing and ready to be buffed off,
you will see a smear-free clear swipe area left behind
If the wax is NOT ready to be buffed, you will see an
oily smear left behind over the waxed surface
If the wax is NOT ready yet, wait a little longer and
repeat the "swipe test"
When the wax is ready to be buffed, take a clean/un-used
microfiber towel and wipe off the entire car. If you applied
the wax in a very thin layer, this should be very quick and
While buffing the wax off, you should start to see the shine
appear. After you are done with an area, turn your microfiber
towel over and use the clean side to wipe it again to prevent
any smears. You could also possibly use two separate towels
Once you are done buffing the entire car, step back and enjoy
your hard work!
Some detailing experts will wax and buff the car twice for extra
protection and extra shine. However, there is a clever test you can
perform to check the depth of your shine. Place a ruler perpendicular
to the surface and see how many numbers you can read in the
reflection. The more you can see, the better the shine.
#8. WHEELS AND TIRES
We may be done with the car, but let's not forget about the wheels
and tires! If washing the wheels with your sponge or washing
glove doesn't get them fully clean, try using a stiff brush to remove
any brake dust or road grime. And here's a handy tip: when you think
you're done, move the car forward about half a rotation of the tires
and clean again to get the areas you may have missed the first time
There are special wheel degreasers and cleaners which will remove
the dirt and brake dust without damaging paintwork or the finish on
the wheels like a regular detergent will. Some even contain sealants
to help protect against dirt and pitting in the future.
Lastly, you can get tire cleaners and sprays that will give your tires a
shiny, new car look. This shine typically fades away, but it looks great
while it lasts and can be a handy tip if you're trying to sell your car.
#9. TIME TO CLEAN THE GLASS
Once everything else is done, it's time to clean the glass. It's a good
idea to leave this until the end because the windows tend to pick up
dirt and grime from all of the other steps.
Some people use straight up glass cleaner for the glass on their car.
However, this can sometimes leave lots of streaks. Other people
wash their car's glass with soap and water. A good combination of
water and glass cleaner can work great as well.
Whatever you decide to use, make sure to roll down the windows
a bit to clean the top edges as well. Otherwise, these will stay dirty
even though the rest of the windows are nice and clean.
#10. COSMETIC REPAIRS
While cleaning your car, you probably noticed a few cosmetic
flaws here and there. Dings and scratches are typically best left
to the experts at the body shop. However, some things, like faded
paintwork or plastic trim, can be fixed fairly easily.
For faded paintwork, you will need a polishing solution and a little
bit of skill. And remember, polish is NOT wax! Polish is abrasive
and designed to remove the top layer of paint that's faded to reveal
the true color underneath. But when in doubt, leave it to the
On the other hand, bumper polish is very easy. Many cars have black
plastic bumpers and trim that fade over time. Bumper polish can be
messy to apply, but is also quite easy and can help to restore that
showroom gleam to faded plastics.
So even if your car is 10 years old or older, it doesn't have to look
like it. A good cleaning will leave it looking YEARS younger and
will make you feel much better about your ride!
If any or all of this sounds like too much work, at MONICATTI
AUTO SALES & SERVICE we offer Auto Detailing Services.
So feel free to give us a call at 844-463-6722 or fill out
our ONLINE CONTACT FORM to schedule an appointment
(Note: Information loosely taken from haynes.com)