Car care essentials: the best products for cleaning your car

May 12, 2021


Even the newest of cars can quickly go from looking, “Oh, wow!” to “Oh, no!” Luckily, with a few quality products, and a little time and muscle, you can quickly get your vehicle back into the pristine shape it was in when you first drove it out of the showroom.

Here are our top detailing tips for giving your vehicle a deep clean both internally and externally so you can protect your car and turn some heads at the same time!

Start off with the tyres

This may seem counterintuitive, but there are good reasons to kick off your car cleaning with the wheels.

Tyre cleaner is typically the most abrasive of all the cleaning agents you’ll use — which makes sense because your tyres are where all the dirty action is. By cleaning your wheels and rims first, you’ll ensure all overspray is washed off in the process of cleaning other parts of your vehicle. This will minimise damage to your car’s exterior.

Start off by rinsing your wheels to remove loose dust and particles. You’ll want to choose a tyre cleaner that is formulated for the type of rims you have on your car (steel, alloy, or chrome), then thoroughly clean both tyres and rims with the wheel cleaner, a clean sponge and a tyre cleaning brush to ensure you don’t miss any spots. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove any remnants of the cleaning solution.

Next, you’ll want to carefully dry the wheels using a microfibre cloth and then treat them with a quality tyre dressing. These formulations usually come as a spray or a gel and not only keep your wheels looking shiny, but also protect them from the elements and harsh UV rays once you get back on the road.

Cleaning your car’s exterior

Now that you’ve finished with the wheels, you can move on to the main cleaning event: actually washing your car!

Again, you’ll want to start off by spraying down your car’s exterior to remove any excess dirt, grime, or, (ahem) avian excrement that your vehicle may have attracted during its travels.

Use a high-pressure sprayer to save water. You may have heard in the past that kitchen dish detergent works just fine for cars, but since these formulations are designed to fight grease, they will strip away wax and any other protective coating from your car.

It’s best to use a car shampoo that is specifically formulated for painted exteriors and a clear coat. The added lubrication in the formula will help dirt and grime slide right off which means you’ll be done in half the time with half the work.

Fill a bucket of lukewarm water with the suggested amount of your preferred car shampoo, such as Turtle Wax, Armor All, or Chemical Guy’s Mr. Pink Super Suds Car Wash (which smells as good as it cleans).

Then use a clean sponge to wash the car from the top down. If it’s a warm day, wash the car in sections so the car won’t dry before you’ve finished cleaning. Use a microfibre chamois to dry your car without any dreaded water spots. Just be sure to wring it out well for maximum effectiveness.

Next, use some mild polishing compound to buff out any small scratches or light scuff marks. And if you’re intimidated by the precision and skill that’s needed to apply traditional car wax the correct way, a spray detailer and a clean microfiber cloth can do just as good a job!

Clean *both sides* of your windows

Even though you’ve already technically washed the outside of your car’s windows, it’s a good habit to go over them again with some quality auto-glass cleaner. An insider trick is to use some old (but clean!) newspaper instead of a paper towel or cloth to guarantee a crystal-clear, streak-free surface.

Now, how’s that for repurposing? Once you’ve finished on the outside, repeat the same process on the inside of the car so you can remove any fingerprints or smudge marks from the glass. And don’t forget the side and rear-view mirrors!

Not only are clear windows safer for maximum visibility, but you’ll be surprised how much more enjoyable the driving experience is when you can fully take in the world around you!

Get up to par on upholstery cleaning 

If you spend a lot of time in your car, the inside can very quickly go from that new car sparkle to the “lived-in” look. If you have pets or small children, the interior mats and seats can quickly be covered with dirt, hair, and more than a few rogue french fries. This can easily be rectified by taking all the mats out and giving all surfaces a thorough vacuum.

Travelling with pets? Find out how to do so safely

You can turn back time on the cloth, leather, or vinyl interior surfaces of your car by investing in a quality upholstery cleaner. These formulations typically come in sprays or foams and can be easily applied using a soft, clean cloth. These products can be found at all different price points, and as an unexpected bonus, typically smell nice, too, so you can start to reclaim that coveted new car smell.

If your car is in need of a serious spa day, there are professional cleaning services that can perform some heavy-duty car seat cleaning and have your vehicle interior looking (and smelling) like new again. But you can just as easily save yourself some serious cash by opting to do the steam cleaning yourself.

You can rent professional-grade steam cleaning machines, such as Rug Doctor, at your local big-box hardware store. If you have an afternoon free, start by vacuuming out all the interiors, and then slowly and uniformly use the steam cleaner on all soft surfaces, including the door trims and the boot of your car.

You’ll be able to see just how badly your car’s upholstery was in need of a clean by the state of the dirty water that comes out of the machine afterwards. You’ll want to give your car’s upholstery a deep clean at least once a year to ensure the inside of your car remains in tip-top shape.

An opportunity to show off

Got your car looking ship-shape and want to show it off to the world… while making a little extra money, too? Sign up to drive with Bolt and impress your riders with a clean, pristine riding experience that might just pay off in extra tips!

Start driving with Bolt today!

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