Have you looked at the price of car detailing and cleaning lately? Even a simple wash can set you back $15 or more. If you have money like that to spend, chances are you won’t need to read this article, but if you are like me and watch every penny, here are some tips to help you keep a clean car and a wallet full of cash.
Do It Yourself
This is an obvious suggestion. Time is the critical issue here, though. It can take several hours to do the job right. If you have the time, it is worth the effort. Here’s how.
Clean the Outside First
Don’t work on a particularly hot day or in direct sun. Products will dry on the car and mar the finish. Start by washing the car with a soap made for cars. Dry it with soft towels – old diapers work great.
Clean out the wheel wells. A brush can help remove the crud that accumulates in the hub caps and other visible areas.
Now inspect your paint. Minor scratches and nicks can be dealt with using a good wax. If you want to buff your car with a sander, use one with orbital movement. Deep scratches will need to be dealt with professionally.
Use a damp Q-Tip or toothbrush to clean off any wax that remains in crevices or on rubber areas. Those areas can be cleaned with an area specific cleaner.
Finally, treat the wheels with a wheel cleaner.
Dealing with the Inside
The interior requires some time and attention to details. Gather soft clothes, a multipurpose cleaner, Q-Tips, cleaners that are appropriate to your vehicle, and your vacuum. You might also want a can of compressed air and leather conditioner if you have a leather interior.
Start by dusting off all the easily reached surfaces. Pull out the floor mats and remove any items that are removable – extra console pieces, for example. Vacuum the floors, seats, dash, and rear parcel shelf thoroughly.
Use a carpet or upholstery cleaner in the spots where needed, but don’t over-saturate, or you will potentially get mildew.
Dilute your cleaner 10:1 and use it to clean all surfaces with a damp cloth. If your seats are vinyl, use a vinyl cleaner, if they are leather, use a leather conditioner. Avoid products that leave a slippery or shiny finish. If you have cloth seats, treat them as you did the carpets.
Now apply yourself to the dash. This is where you will use those Q-Tips. To get into every nook and cranny, you will need their fine tip. Consider removing any knobs you can pull off gently to get underneath. You can also use compressed air – the kind sold for cleaning computer keyboards – to get into grills and behind areas you can’t reach otherwise.
Use the diluted multipurpose cleaner to clean areas of plastic, such as the plastic lens the covers your speedometer and other gauges. Finish off by washing the windows.
Detailing your car will take you the better part of a morning, but the results are a worth the effort. Not only will your car retain its value better but it will also look better, and who doesn’t like to drive around in a snazzy ride?
This is a piece taken from the How to Save Money on Everything ebook, where you will find step by step instructions, tips and more on saving money. Get your free copy by subscribing to the free frugal email newsletter.