If you can avoid it, never clean your car in direct sunlight or high temperatures. Whether you are washing the exterior of the vehicle, wiping down the dashboard, or polishing the windows, any liquid you spray on or in your car will evaporate very quickly in the sun or heat. Evaporation is an issue for two reasons. First, you’re putting the time and energy into cleaning the car – why make the job longer and more difficult by having to constantly re-spray and re-wipe areas over and over again? Even pure water will leave behind spots and streaks if it evaporates on the surface of your car. Second, consider the effect evaporation of chemicals can have when cleaning the interior of your car. The liquid turns to gas and is inhaled by you and your family members, posing a potentially serious health risk. If at all possible, clean your car in the shade to make the process more efficient and to avoid endangering your health. This is yet another reason to opt for non-toxic car care products.
This might seem pretty obvious, but vacuuming as much of your vehicle as possible will make cleaning a lot easier. Don’t vacuum just the carpets and upholstery – get out those attachments and suck the dust off the dashboard and out of those little nooks and crannies. The more you vacuum up first, the less you’ll have to wipe down later. Always remember to vacuum first, before any other interior cleaning, so that you avoid re-contaminating freshly cleaned areas when the dust starts to fly.
Think of all the items you have around the house that could make car cleaning easier. Q-tips are perfect for cleaning out those little spaces where dust accumulates, such as the air vents. Have some canned air on the computer desk? “Dust Off” is great for blasting dust off of your computer keyboard AND out of crevices in your car’s console, cup holders or other small spots. A soft paintbrush is a great tool for detailing your dashboard. Keep household items like these on hand for car cleaning and you’ll have a vehicle that’s been cleaned thoroughly and efficiently.
Cleaning your windows and mirrors last will prevent any re-contamination likely to occur from other car care products over-spraying onto the glass. Don’t forget to roll the window down halfway to clean the top edge of the glass, and try up-and-down, side-to-side strokes rather than a circular motion to ensure the entire window has been cleaned and polished.
Ammonia and ammonia fumes cause plastic, rubber, vinyl and leather to crack and dry out, and it will also damage aftermarket window tinting. The last thing you want to do when trying to improve the appearance of your car is prematurely age it with ammonia! Some interior protectant products contain silicone, which will turn your dashboard and other surfaces yellow with time. Silicone also leaves behind a residue that will attract dust, causing you to have to clean more frequently.
It is popularly believed that dishwashing liquid is a convenient substitute for car soap. Unfortunately, just like it can dry out your skin, it also dries out the paint on your car by stripping away the polymers. Regular use of dishwashing detergent as car wash will accelerate the oxidization of the paint, causing it to look old, flat, and dull. Avoid ruining your car’s paint – opt for a waterless car wash.
Don’t have a clay bar? Don’t even know what a clay bar is? Not a problem. There are incredibly powerful all-purpose automotive cleaners on the market that can tackle hard to clean spots like bird droppings, bugs and fresh tree sap, but for dried-on sap, use mineral spirits. Apply mineral spirits to the spot and then very gently wipe the sap away with a quality microfiber towel. Be sure to be as gentle as possible while wiping up and away from the car’s surface.
White vinegar is undoubtedly the most versatile cleaning agent you probably already own. It can be used to clean those winter salt stains from your car’s carpets, eliminate odors, polish chrome, prevent frost from forming on your car’s windows, and clean the grime off your wipers that causes them to drag across the windshield and blur your view. It can also remove even the nastiest messes from your car, including chewing gum from carpeting and old stickers from your bumper. Here are some handy recipes: