Car detailing. It’s probably not at the top of the list of things we’d like to do on a Saturday, but it has to be done. There are plenty of detailing services, but they tend to be quite costly and it’s something that can easily be done yourself. All you need is a few basic cleaning items, and a spare couple of hours.
Ideally, we should all be cleaning our cars every fortnight or so, but obviously we have busy lives so if you aren’t able to pull the sponge and bucket out that often, the best thing to do is make sure you give it a really thorough detail when you do get the chance. So, roll up your sleeves, and let’s take a look at a good, methodical approach to making your car look spick and span, inside and out.
- 2 x buckets
- A few microfibre cloths or chamois cloths, or even a microfibre mitt
- Garden hose or high pressure washer
- Car shampoo
The first thing you’ll need to do is give the car a really good rinse. Start from the roof because as the dirty water drains off the car, it will leave residue along the way, so starting with the roof and working your way down will ensure that the dirty water is rinsed away before it can leave any muck behind.
Work your way down from the roof to the windows, windscreen and rear window, then bonnet and doors, right down to the wheels. Make sure you get in the grills and other nooks and crannies like door handles, rear view mirrors etc.
Now that you’ve given it a good rinse, it’s time to give it a bit of elbow grease, so fill up one bucket with fresh water, and the other with water and car shampoo.
Soak a washcloth in the soapy water and then start scrubbing, again beginning with the roof for the same reason you started the initial rinse from there. It’s good to use an inward circular motion so that any mucky water is directed away from the surface rather than back onto it. It turns out Mr Miyagi was onto something!
Use the bucket of fresh water to regularly rinse your washcloth before dunking back in the soapy water for another round of scrubbing.
Work your way down, making sure you get in all the little nooks and crannies like you did with the rinse. Your washcloth may get a bit dirty during this process and so you may need to replace it at some stage with a fresh one.
Cleaning the wheels
It’s important that you do not use the same washcloths for your wheels that you’ve used for the rest of the car. Brakes leave a fine dust that will stick to a washcloth which can then scratch the paint next time you use it. Instead, use a bristled brush, making sure you use fresh buckets of water and soapy water to avoid contaminating your washcloths. Dunk and scrub, just like you’ve been doing with the rest of the car.
Dry and polish
Rinse your car again from top to bottom. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to dry the car by hand. Leaving it to air dry will likely result in streaks, so instead you’ll need to grab a dry washcloth or chamois and—yep you guessed it—work your way down from the roof. You’ll need to ring out the cloth several times as it soaks up the water. Check inside the doors as you go because there will most likely be some water that has got into the seals, so you’ll need to dry those bits too.
Now that the exterior is nice and clean and dry, pull out the polish and follow the instructions on the bottle.
- A few microfibre cloths
- Household cleaning spray
- Soft brush
- Vacuum cleaner and attachments
The dashboard is a good place to start for the same reason you cleaned the outside from top to bottom. Some of the dust and debris you wipe away from the dashboard will end up on the floor, so you might as well leave the vacuuming until last.
Spray a bit of household cleaner on the microfibre washcloth and work your way around the dashboard, centre console etc. There are loads of nooks and crannies in these areas so you may need to use a soft brush to remove dust and other particles from tight spots.
Making sure your soft brush is clean, give it a light spray with household cleaner and use that to clean the inside door handles and window buttons. Then dry the area with a microfibre cloth.
You may want to use a protectant for your door panels, but what you use will depend on whether they are leather, vinyl or fabric.
With a damp, soapy washcloth, lightly scrub a window and then immediately dry it with a dry microfibre cloth. Repeat this for all the other windows. Using household window cleaner can potentially damage your window tint, so it is best to avoid using it.
To clean cloth car seats, vacuum them to remove surface-level dirt, then spray a light cleaning solution onto the seats. Use a soft brush to massage the solution into the seats then wipe away moisture or suds with a dry microfibre cloth.
If you have leather car seats, ensure they are well-conditioned to avoid cracks or fading. To clean them, begin by vacuuming loose dirt and follow with a leather cleaner, using a soft brush to smooth it over the seats. Use a dry microfibre cloth to wipe away excess moisture then leave the seats to dry for a few hours.
Floor and mats
The part we all like the least. You’ll need a powerful vacuum cleaner, and plenty of attachments to help you get into all the nooks and crannies that can be quite difficult to clean.
If there is an odour coming from the floor or floor mats, you can sprinkle baking soda over these surfaces before vacuuming. Give the baking soda a few minutes before vacuuming and it should help get rid of any nasty smells.
For a finishing touch, you could spray a little solution made from equal parts water and white vinegar. A light spray around the open air in the cabin will help to remove any lingering odours.
So there you have it—a couple of hours spent on your car every now and then will go a long way in keeping it in tip top shape. Of course, car maintenance is about more than just keeping it clean as internal electronic devices require regular servicing by a professional. As part of Mazda’s maintenance tips for the Mazda 6, they recommend regular servicing to keep all the interior gizmos working properly. So, jump online to find your nearest Perth Mazda dealership and keep that new car feel for as long as possible.