- Car Care & Maintenance
How To Clean your Car Inside and Outside
Your Car is the Most Visible Presentation of Who You Are.
Our cars, being our most visible possession, should be kept clean and orderly. We spend most of our waking hours commuting in our automobile, so doesn’t it make sense that we make sure that the one we use often is as clean and comfortable as possible. I know that there are many full service car cleaning services, that do a fantastic job of leaving your car pristine. On the other hand, if you are like me, and do not have twenty dollars, or more every time your car starts to get dirty, you may want to consider the cheap alternative. That being, of course, doing the job yourself, which can be a very rewarding experience. Unless you are physically impaired, most people can successfully clean their car.
One must also have their car organized, as well as clean. This always has to be done by the car’s owner. It is essential that a car be well organized in case of an emergency, or simply just to have a more comfortable ride.
Car Cleaning Products and Cleaning Advice for Your Chassis, Window and Tires
First of all, use cleaning products designed for cars. Never use laundry detergent because it will ruin your paint and dull the shine on your car, don’t use dishwashing liquid either, because you’ll get lots of bubbles, but not much in the way of clean.
If you want a less expensive cleaner, you may want to check your local dollar store, or liquidator, such as McFrugals or Big Lots, these places often have discontinued quality car cleaners for as low as a dollar. Some of these less expensive cleaner are excellent, and can save you a lot of money.
I recommend first and foremost, you get a good quality car washing product, it doesn't have to be expensive. All you have to do is put a little in a bucket of water and most good car cleaning products will go a long way. I also recommend you have bucket specifically for cleaning your car, that way you do not get any of the residue of your household cleaners mixed with your car washing solution. You will need several old towels, or if you want a product made for car get a micro fiber mit. Have soft towels for drying your car. Make sure every towel you use is of a soft material, never, never use anything abrasive on your car it will ruin the chassis. After you have covered your car in soap sods, you should take your bucket and put the rest of the soapy water all over the car. For rinsing your automobile, I recommend you use a hose nozzle that has a revolving head so you can change the water flow settings. You may want to use jet setting for removing the stubborn dirt from your tire chrome and for your chassis I suggest you use a softer setting such as full or shower.
After you have dried your automobile thoroughly with a soft towel, you will need to clean your windows inside and out. You can use standard window cleaner, if you wish, but the ammonia in standard window cleaners might damage your chassis. If you want a window cleaner that is ammonia free, and for windows that are less likely to get dirty or foggy, you may want to get a glass cleaner made for cars. When cleaning your windows clean both the inner and outer windows at the same time, so you can have an accurate idea of how clean your windows really are. For cleaning the window, I recommend you use kitchen paper, try to use a brand that does not fall apart and is absorbent. For added protection add a layer of Rain X, a.k.a. the invisible windshield wiper. This is also a very good time to change your wiper blades. We mustn't forget our side and rear view mirrors. Before cleaning your mirrors check if the product you are using is recommended for mirrors, if not it will ruin your visibility and that could put you at risk. If you must use regular window cleaner to clean your mirrors then spray the cleaner on a piece kitchen paper then apply it to the mirror. This way you clean your mirrors without damaging the chassis.
Now that we covered the basic cleaning, we need to add some polish. For the chassis I recommend some of the polish or pastes that you can get at your local retailer, or on the internet. There other more top of the line waxes you can buy at most auto part and specialty shops, but if you are trying to do they job economically, I recommend going with a good brand, at a reasonable price.
When I was in my early twenties, and I cleaned my first car, I used to use a paste wax called Shines Like The Sun, that I would buy for a dollar over at my local discount store. It left my car very shiny and I wasn’t unhappy with it, although, that was some time ago, and I wonder if they even make this product anymore. For applying your paste you can use a micro fiber applicator, or small round sponge that usually comes with the paste. You will want to rub softly in a circular motion, and you may have to put on several layers, before you get the shine you want.
The chassis is not the only part of the car you want shiny, let us not neglect our tires. Tires that look new and black make all the difference in the world when having a pristine car. To have tire that look black you need a tire dressing, that can be purchased at an auto specialty shop or the internet. For your tire rims I recommend using a product like that is recommended for tire rims and to remove the dirt and grime from you chrome, use a microfiber cloth, or soft towel for applying your rim cleaner. For removing stubborn grime on your tire rims I recommend you use the Euro Pro Shark Portable Steam Pocket System, you take and apply steam to the stubborn grime and after a few applications of steam the grime should loosen and be easy to wipe away.
Car Products and Cleaning Advice For Your Car’s Interior
First thing you must do is clean all the clutter out of your car. This is really straight forward, take out all your car mats, and get a bag and get rid of all those cups, bags, papers and anything else that your vacuum cannot pick up. When it's time to vacuum, you have several options for vacuuming your car. If you have spare change, you can take your car to most any gas station and they usually have a coin operated vacuum. These vacuums normally run for three minutes, at a cost of seventy five cents to one dollar fifty. These machines normally only take quarters, so my advice is to take at least three dollars worth of quarters with you, because you may need more than one round with the vacuum. You will need to vacuum your car mats, all the seats, your trunk, and all those little corners that gather crumbs, your ash trays, the top of your dashboard, the inside of your trunk as well as your carpets.
Let’s say you want to do your vacuuming at home. I recommend the you get a wet/dry vacuum or a vacuum made for cars such as Bissel Auto-Mate Corded Hand Vacuum. Now if you need a vacuum that is state of art you may want to get an Autobahn Wall Mount 5.0 HP Garage Vacuum, and the price for this type of vacuum may vary, although the more top of the line vacuums will cost around $250.00. So no matter what your price range there is a vacuum for you.
Now let’s focus on the dashboard and other interior surfaces. For the dashboard I recommend a high quality, reasonably priced dash board cleaner and protectant. I find that these products do not only leave the dash board shiny, but the shine lasts for a long time. You must use a cloth made for cleaning dash boards, or a very soft towel, when cleaning your dashboard. A good choice would be a Micro Fiber Towel for cleaning your dashboard.
Upholstery (car seats) is not one size fits all. If you have cloth upholstery, you may have to get a stain remover made for cars.I would also suggest looking at your local discount store for a good stain remover; you may even find some great stain remover at your local dollar store. Now if you happen to have leather seats, you may want to try a good quality product designed for cleaning auto leather, either online or at your local auto parts retailer.
For other cleaning details such ash trays and the front of your dash board, you may want to use something mild, and something that will not cloud your clear surfaces. For these surfaces I recommend getting cleaning wipes that are designed for auto interiors, that way when you are finished, you simply throw them away and that saves you time.
To keep your car smelling nice you may want to add an automobile freshener, a good choice for this would be California Scents, which come in a wide variety of scents such as lavender, Coronado Cherry, Orange Squeeze, La Jolla Lemon, Desert Jasmine, and other scents to suit most preferences
Now That Our Cars Are Pristine Inside and Outside it is Time To Get Your Car Organized
In your glove compartment it is essential that you have the following:
- Car Manual
- Maps local or of any destination you are going to.
- A small portable file with important phone numbers, such as your mechanic.
- A driver club list of services and repair procedures.
- Pen and pad
- Car maintenance record and auto discount coupons
- A small flash light
- small umbrella
- folded up rain poncho (the kind you get at the dollar store)
When placing your items in the glove compartment put the larger items to the bottom, and the small items that you need handy on top. A great aid for storing maps, and other important papers is the Mead Expandables Carry File 21 Pocket Legal File. I would also suggest using a small zipper bag for your pen and pads. Your car manual should also be either laminated or in a plastic cover so that it doesn't break from all the wear and tear.
You should always have a package of Kleenex and wet wipes handy, especially if you travel with children. Keep some change handy in a small box taped to the dash board or somewhere in your car where it can be reached.
In addition to these you might want to have a personal car resource kit that contains the following:
· Pocket knife
· Pocket Calendar
· A small address file
· Spare change
· Coupons folder and coupons
· Extra Batteries
· A screwdriver
To store all your supplies for your personal resource kit you will need a plastic box with sectionsor one of your children's plastic school boxes, they use for school supplies, these might work if they are big enough.
In your trunk you should have a car emergency kit, you can get the Appollo 53 Piece Roadside Emergency Kit for around fifty dollars or if you want you can get the Coghlan’s Emergency Kit in A Bottle for only around fifteen dollars. Even though, I’m big on being frugal, I also believe that it is better to be safe than sorry. Therefore I would go with the better kit, regardless of the cost.
Than there are the standard items, that you should never be without, such as a:
- Auto Jack
- Spare tire inflated and ready for changes
- A can of tire inflate
- Small box of tools
- Jumper cables
- First Aid Kit
There may be some special considerations, depending on your needs and life style. For example if you are in sales you may want to purchase Auto Office Seat Desk System fromRubbermaid. If you have a baby you may want to have an extra box of pampers in your car, don’t forget to upgrade the diapers from time to time, children grow so fast. You may also want an extra change of clothing and underwear for your children and yourself, life is messy, you know. Of course, let’s not forget your children’s entertainment needs, as well as your sanity. I would recommend getting a portable computer for your car for your children to play their favorite movies, or you can have a plastic box full of puzzles, coloring books and crayons for your children. Also consider having granola bars handy, and a cooler with water and snacks for your little ones.
An Additional Tip for Keeping Groceries Fresh & Cold
When I have to do groceries, as well as other errands, I start my errand day by packing two ice chests, or if you have less perishables than I do, you only need one. I keep the ice chests in the trunk of my car. Just before I go to do my errands I put frozen Blue ice, and I also use a product called Nordic Ice, both can be refrozen and used over and over for keeping one's groceries fresh for long periods of time. I have found that this gives me peace of mind while shopping. Food stays fresh for hours, even ice cream. Even in times, when I have had car trouble after doing my groceries, I still have piece of mind, knowing that my food is not spoiling, adding to my list of worries. This also helps in the hot summer months in which groceries can melt in a short amount of time. You can purchase both blue ice and a good ice chest at your local retailer or hardware store
Your car cleaning depends on your life style, personality, size of your family and what works for you. I hope you found my suggestions helpful. For some online help here are some links to some really helpful sites to help keep your car pristine and organized.