IT seems cleaning your car is a bit more complicated than grabbing some pails of water and some shampoo, isn’t it? Well, it used to be simple back in the day when cars were just painted steel, wood (sometimes) and chrome. Nowadays, cars are built with a lot more different materials. Polyurethane plastic, ABS plastic, compressed fibres, various cloths, fibreglass, carbon fibre and even magnesium are used in your cars’ construction. So, the care and treatment takes a whole lot more cleaning products.
Let’s clean your car’s mangy interior.
A thorough job means cleaning your upholstery, carpets, dashboard and steering wheel, doors, centre console, rear shelf and other trims.
A portable vacuum is the best way to clean the carpets (unless you own an early Beetle, which means rubber mats). Pick up all loose trash (that old Kit Kat is no longer edible, so bin it), remove any rubber mats (clean this outside), then give the carpet a good, thorough vacuuming. This is why the portable is the best; it probably has an extension hose, brush and crevice nozzle for getting into tight nooks and crannies.
Don’t forget to vacuum the seats, carpet, cupholders and various catch-alls. You may find yourself a few sen richer afterwards.
If your carpet is stained and dirty, there are more products out there that spray on (or foam on), then wipe off. These tend to shift even very bad stains. Just remember that they usually take time to dry and you have to air out the car afterwards.
The dashboard, steering wheel, centre console and interior plastic trim can be cleaned either to a natural appearance or a shiny-type look. There are many products on the shelves that cater to either look. Either way, check if your interior is vinyl or leather. There are different cleaning products for each material. In any case, clean well with a microfibre cloth and don’t drip any into your audio components.
Unless you own a Rolls-Royce with a Connolly leather interior, in most cars, the leather actually has a thin vinyl coating that’s intended to help it hold up over the long term. So, though it’s important to keep the leather clean, using a leather conditioner isn’t as important as it is with untreated leather. Use a liquid-based conditioner as a cream-based conditioner can’t get through the micro perforations in the vinyl coating to treat the leather. The key is to clean the leather regularly; at least four times per year. Always test a cleaner or conditioner on an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it doesn’t damage the leather.
But now your interior, though clean, smells of cleaning solutions. That cardboard pine tree can only cover so much of the smell. And those cans of air freshener (so cheap, three for RM10!) lose their smell after being exposed in the hot sun for a week. Keep in mind that cleaning your car on a regular basis will probably pre-empt the need for a deodoriser at all.
Activated charcoal is a better choice. Instead of trying to mask smells, this product actually negates it. They do this by absorbing odorous substances from gases or liquids. Just like in your fridge, these products come in various packaging, so the choice is yours.
Finally, keeping all of your car-care stuff in one bag helps make your detailing time quick and efficient. It keeps things much more organised and you’ll be more enthusiastic about the whole thing (Yeah, right).
Get a bag which will fit all of your cleaning products (no, not the pail). It needs a lot of nooks and crannies to store cloths, bottles and brushes, and a main compartment for your vacuum. It does not need to be particularly strong, but it should be hardy enough to endure any chemical spills. Put that Giant plastic bag away, Eugene.
This way, it’s an easy couple of hours cleaning your beloved car, instead of hunting around for that elusive cleaner or cloth, wasting precious time and patience. You know it makes sense when you pluck the bag from inside your house to the garage knowing you have everything at your fingertips.
See, it’s really easy to detail your car and it allows you to have a real close look at the condition of your exterior and interior. Cleaning your car properly does not need much time (if you have kept on top of it) and you may save some serious moolah over the long term. A major plus point is that it helps maintain the resale value of your vehicle. Now, where’s that pail?