If you’re reading this site, there’s a pretty good chance you care about your car. Thanks to Canada’s horrid unique climate mix that freezes our cars in winter and bakes them in the summer, our vehicles tend to suffer a host of hazards that’d terrify even the most professional detailer.
Over the winter, your car’s exterior was assaulted by, well, salt, while the interior was bombarded with slush and ice. That’s not to mention the wear and tear caused by Dad’s habit of spilling his double-double all over the dashboard on the way home from junior’s hockey practice.
With the calendar now in April, it’s a great time to evacuate all of winter’s debris. The best way to combat permanent damage is through regular cleaning and detailing, of course. If schedules were jam-packed during the snowy months and one didn’t have a chance to hoover out winter’s flotsam and jetsam, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with a checklist that’ll get your ride shining in no time.
Wash the Car (properly)
Take care of the essentials first by giving your car a good wash to rid it of the winter grime. Head to your favourite automotive department and pick up a couple of wash mitts, soft-material towels, proper car wash soap (dish liquid will harm a car’s paint), and a few drying cloths.
When washing, make certain to use the two-bucket method. What’s that, you ask? Well, one bucket contains the soap and water mixture while the other is used solely for rinsing the wash mitt. This way, there is little chance of picking up stray dirt on the wash mitt as might happen if the same bucket is used to both apply soapy water to the mitt and rinse the mitt after washing a body panel.
For an extra dose of paint protection, invest in a plastic guard which fits into the bucket, allowing the dirt thrust into the bucket during a rinse to sink to the bottom and stay there, out of reach. A good quality microfibre wash mitt is key to avoid damaging the paint on a car.
Invest in quality automotive specific products
Cleaning tools such as wash mitts, sponges, and towels should be made of soft materials that will not scratch the paint or other surfaces. When using them, be absolutely certain all these products are free of dirt and grit. Did your drop that new sponge on the driveway while practicing the two-bucket method? Wash it thoroughly before using it again.
The products being used for cleaning a vehicle should be specifically designed for automobiles. Household cleaners like dish soap do a great job of cutting grease in the kitchen but often contain ingredients that can damage the delicate paint finish on vehicles. Instead of hitting up the supermarket for car cleaning supplies, head to an automotive retailer who will have the proper soaps, washes, and waxes on the shelf. Your initial investment might be a bit higher but it will pay off in the long run.
Don’t forget the interior
Can you see your reflection in the car’s paint yet? Good, because now it’s time to turn your attention to the car’s interior. Vacuuming and glass cleaning might sound like blindingly obvious tasks but they will keep winter’s damage at bay, even if your car hasn’t seen a vacuum since Halloween. Be sure to use a good quality wet/dry vacuum to hoover all the dirt and debris out of the carpets and seating surfaces.
Picking up a can of cleaner especially formulated for your car’s cloth or leather seats will go a long way to rejuvenating a winter-worn interior. Pro tip: be sure to test any interior cleaners in an inconspicuous area before applying it liberally to make sure the product doesn’t strip the fabric of its colour.
Use a soft cloth and appropriate cleaner (water works well in a pinch) to wipe grime from the dashboard. Don’t throw out those old toothbrushes – they’re perfect for digging crumbs out of the cup holders and cubbies. Protect your ride going forward with a good set of rubber mats that will trap dirt and snowy slush before it even has a chance to reach the carpet.
Doing a thorough job of cleaning one’s vehicle is time consuming but the rewards are great. Whether a person is a gearhead or not, spring cleaning a car will exorcise winter’s grit and maybe even boost its resale value a bit at trade-in time. For us misty-eyed gearheads, it’s the equivalent of treating a loved one to a day at the spa.
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