By Alex Perdikis
Does the inside of your car look like the city dump? How about the outside? Can you write “Wash Me” in the dust? Busy lives mean that some things get pushed to the back burner. If one of your back burner chores is keeping your car clean, you have some work to do. It’s not as hard as you think. In fact, you just might enjoy it. Even better, you’ll be proud of yourself when you’re done and you look at the clean, shiny “looks like new” car sitting in your driveway.
“Wash Me Please”
When you think about warm summer days in America, one of the pictures that comes to mind is of Dad and the kids washing the car in the driveway. Whether you’re a dad, Mom or anything else, taking care of your car begins with a wash. Before you head outside with a bucket full of dishwashing soap and a sponge, read the instructions below for the best way to wash your car.
Tip: “Say no to dishwashing liquid. It’s not meant for a car’s finish. It’ll leave streaks and residue you’ll never get rid of.” – Alex Perdikis
Buy car wash cleaner and read the instructions. Most car wash cleaner is concentrated so follow the instructions to get the formula right. You can use a regular sponge as long as it’s clean. Washing mitts work great, too. You’ll also need a terry towel or chamois, buckets, garden hose and soft bristled brush. A tar and bug remover is also handy.
Fill one bucket with the properly apportioned cleaner and another with clean water. Begin by using the garden hose to soak down the entire car. Using your cleaning mitt or sponge soaked with cleaning solution, clean the roof. Rinse the soap off with a low pressure stream from the garden hose. Then move to the next section and repeat the pattern. Wash higher parts of the car first and work your way down, rinsing each section as you go. Use the brush to dislodge and remove stubborn debris.
Purchase a tire and rim cleaner for the tires. Clean one tire at a time and rinse before going on to the next.
Dry the car using a clean, damp terry cloth or chamois. Begin at the top and move downward, removing excess water as you go.
Need a Wax?
Now that the car’s clean, give it a wax to restore its shine. Make sure the car is dry and, if it’s been sitting in the sun, moved to a shady spot to allow it to cool down. You’ll need a can of car wax, an applicator, a clean terry cloth and a polishing cloth. Work on one panel at a time, frame out an area with wax first and then fill in the center. After the wax dries to a dull haze, use the terry cloth to rub the surface in one direction. After the haze is removed, use the polishing cloth and rub in the opposite direction until the surface shines. Repeat over the entire vehicle, working one small section at a time.
The Inside Clean Up
People spend a lot of time in their cars and it doesn’t take long for “stuff” to accumulate. Fast food wrappers, coffee cups, napkins and other garbage along with the kids’ sports gear and toys, receipts and whatever else lurking about certainly gives your car that “lived in” look. You know this can’t go on. It’s time to grab a garbage bag and clean it up.
First, clear out all debris. You may discover some forgotten treasures as you go through the mess. Hang on to the garbage bag – you’ll need it throughout the cleaning process.
You can purchase interior car cleaners or use household cleaners you may already have on hand. Gather the following supplies:
- Household cleaner
- Window cleaner
- Several clean terry towels or rags. You can also purchase car cleaning wipes.
- Microfiber towel
- Cotton swabs
- Water source
Begin with the console. Use a cleaner moistened cloth and wipe down the console, from cleanest areas to dirtiest. Use a damp cotton swab to clean grooves in the steering wheel and other areas. To clean around buttons, wrap a cloth around a butter knife tip and run it in the grooves along the buttons to remove accumulated dust.
Use a microfiber towel and window cleaner to clean windows. Avoid ammonia-based window cleaner.
Remove the floor mates. If the mats are plastic, shake them out and hose them off. If they’re made of carpet, vacuum and spot clean outside of the car.
Vacuum the interior from top to bottom, beginning with the ceiling. Don’t forget to move the seats and vacuum the hard to reach areas.
If you have leather seats, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for caring for them.
Spot clean fabric seats and plastic pieces with only manufacturer approved products. Avoid using window cleaner on upholstery.
Air the car out after you’re finished. Add an air freshener, if you like. Put the mats back in the car and get ready to enjoy a much nicer ride.
Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.