Cars and trucks get dirty. No matter how much we try to keep our cars clean, they’re never as clean as we’d like them to be, both inside and out.
That’s a shame because you spend a lot of time in your car and when you have a clean car, you feel better about yourself. In fact, studies have shown that living in a clean environment can improve your mood by 50%.
More than that, keeping your car clean can increase the resale value of your car by several hundred dollars.
Also, not keeping your car clean can have a cumulative effect:
- Tree sap, pollen, bird droppings, and other environmental pollutants can damage your paint
- Dust can clog vents and air filters
- Dirt and grit can wear down your upholstery
- Sunlight can fade your finish
The good news is that a little care and a few car washing hacks can help you keep your car looking like new for years to come.
Detailing Works, But May Not Be Right For You
While an exterior car wash can help, a simple pass through the self-serve car-wash can’t deal with everything that is affecting your car, and high-powered brushes that aren’t replaced or maintained can actually scratch your finish.
Unless you can afford professional detailing on a regular basis you’re not just dealing with a dirtier car, you’re also decreasing the value of your car. At the same time, professional detailing can cost between $50 and $150.
If you’re planning to use a do it yourself car wash to save money on detailing, or simply looking for tips on how to clean your car exterior, here are a few sensible and unexpected car detailing hacks for you.
DIY Car Cleaning Tips
We’ll go into each of these in more detail, if you’re considering going do-it-yourself with you car wash regimen, the following things can go a long way.
- Choose your cleaners wisely
- Use microfiber cloths
- Put a cover on it
- Don’t spin your wheels
- Prevent bugs from sticking around
- Use a makeup brush
- Consider using toothpaste
- Use the right window cleaner
That’s the shortlist, but read on to find out the secret behind each of these tips and tricks.
1. Be careful with cleaners
You wouldn’t use laundry detergent in the shower. Why? Because it would likely irritate your skin. All too often, car owners don’t apply the same wisdom to their car care. In fact, using liquid detergent or dish cleaner can damage the paint and strip away wax.
Instead, use a car washing soap, and read the label to make sure you’re properly applying the cleaner to the surface of your car. Otherwise, you may find that your car cleaner will simply add another unwanted layer of contamination to your car.
2. Use microfiber cloths
When cleaning your car, invest in microfiber rags. Microfiber cloths are made from a synthetic material made from tiny strands that are 1% the diameter of a human hair. These strands are made from extremely strong fibers like nylon, Kevlar or polyester. This makes them durable.
Because the fibers are so fine, more dust and dirt get pulled away from the surface of the car. When you use other types of cloth, you run the risk of dirt not being absorbed, but simply re-distributed across the surface of your car. When you’ve washed your car, use microfiber cloths to dry as well.
Remember to rinse and wring out the cloths regularly. They’re tough, they can take it.
3. Put a cover on It
Whether you store your car in a private garage, a parking lot, the street or a driveway your car is at risk from exposure to the elements. Putting the right cover on your car can keep it safe from:
- Tree sap
4. Don’t spin your wheels
Another important DIY car hack is to make sure you’re using the right cleaner for your wheels. The same cleaner that works on your aluminum or chrome wheels can eat away at your coated, painted or anodized wheels.
If you don't know what type of wheels you have, then go with an acid-free cleaner. If you find it’s still not working, you can always upgrade to something stronger.
Keep in mind that tires get dirty, and not just from road dust. If you haven’t cleaned your car in a while, you may also want to look for a cleaner that can remove dust from your brakes.
5. Prevent bugs from sticking around
This car life hack may seem a little strange, but if your car is covered with bugs, use dryer sheets to wipe them away and the bugs come right off. Not only that, dryer sheets are a natural bug repellent.
Some suspect it may be because of the linalool and beta-citronellol that are found in these sheets, ingredients that seem to repel insects.
6. Apply your makeup (brush)
Looking for a way to get dust out of cracks and air filters? Use a makeup brush and vacuum. The makeup brush can reach into the smallest cracks and loosen the dust and finer particles. Then the vacuum can suction them up before they have a chance to resettle.
7. Consider using toothpaste
Over time, your headlights can get cloudy as dirt and grime build-up on polycarbonate or plastic lenses.
To buff these contaminants from your headlights:
- Wash your headlights with soap and water
- Put masking tape around the areas surrounding your headlight
- Put a generous amount of toothpaste on a soft cloth and rub in small circles.
- Rinse with water and let air dry
The mild abrasive in the toothpaste will buff the surface and remove the dirt and grime.
Don’t forget your toothbrush, when you’re cleaning the interior, it’s great for getting into all kinds of cracks and crevices without scratching the upholstery.
8. Windows on the world
When cleaning your car windows, stay away from Windex and other glass cleaners that contain ammonia, it can damage your window tint. Instead look for a cleaner that is designed specifically for car windows.
When cleaning your windshield wipers, rub them down with rubbing alcohol, this will prevent the wipers from leaving smears on your windshield.
DIY Your Way to a Cleaner Car
Keeping your car clean without paying for professional detailing can take a little bit of work and a little bit of planning, but the results will be a safer car that you’ll be happier to spend time in and boost in your resale value down the road.