When you buy a new automobile, it typically has a new car glow about it. The car smells new and the paint is so shiny it seems to sparkle in the sunlight. Most new car owners make a vow to keep their vehicle looking "as good as new" for the life of the car. If you made this promise but fell down on the job, it is not too late to get that new car glow back.
If you are like me, you faithfully washed your new car every weekend for the first 6 months. Then something always seemed to come up on the weekend like a NASCAR race to watch, you do not feel like washing the car after mowing the lawn, there is a swim party or barbeque to attend - and suddenly it has been weeks or months since you've given your vehicle the detailing you promised you would maintain.
As time moves on, you wash your vehicle once a month instead of once a week and clean the interior even less. Well if you have realized you are neglecting your vehicle and have admitted it to yourself, you are on the road to recovery. You can change the lack-luster look of your vehicle and turn it back into the radiant vehicle you feel in love with in the dealership's showroom.
First, you will need to round up all of your cleaning materials for the vehicle. Do you still have your car washing supplies? If not a quick shopping trip can fix that. You will need the following supplies and materials to properly clean the outside of the vehicle:
- Car wash (Yes,that is what it is called) - Do not ever use dishwashing detergent or other non car-specific washing detergent or it will likely have additives that will scratch your paint or clear coat.
- Car washing mitt - Preferably made of lambskin and not synthetic fibers that might scratch your paint.
- Tire cleaner - And a tire-cleaning tool
- Red rags - Or towels that are used to clean the bottom of the door jams where there might be grease, you do not want to get this on your good washing mitt.
- Glass cleaner and Newspaper - Use the old newspaper instead of paper towels, it will the glass cleaner on the windows to avoid streaks.
- Chamois (sometimes called a chammy or shammy) - To dry the car.
- Car Wax
- Terry cloth towels
- Orbital polisher
Now that you have your materials handy, you will need to start washing your car once a week. Yes, just like when the car was brand new. If you start anew with your weekly ritual of cleaning your vehicle, you can bring it back to its glory days. You will wash off the accumulated dust particles, dried rain droplets, bird droppings, tree sap and all those little things that built up on the car's exterior that pollute the vehicle and make it look less than new.
After you have begun to wash your car thoroughly each week then you can move onto waxing your vehicle once a month. Before waxing, wash your car and dry it off with the chamois cloth. You then can apply wax by hand or, if you are really going to keep up with the task of waxing your car monthly, you can use an orbiter polisher. This piece of equipment can speed up the waxing process and be a lot less taxing on your wrists and hands.
Typically, if you wax a car by hand you will have to make continual circular motions using the sponge or other waxing supplies. You will continue applying wax and making circular motions until the entire car is covered. At this point, you go back to where you started and remove the wax using a soft terry cloth that will not scratch your clear coat or paint. You will most likely use several terry cloth towels as you wipe the wax off your vehicle.
An orbital polisher comes with the needed application pads and terry cloth removal pads. You apply the wax to the polisher and go over the car once to put on the wax and go back over it again to take the wax off. Wax is a great way to keep your paint and clear coat shiny. It helps rain to bead and roll of the vehicle and makes it harder for bugs to stick to the exterior. Waxing will thus make it easier for you to wash your vehicle each week.
Now that the exterior of your vehicle is sparkling and back to the looking new it is time to take care of the interior. Your car cannot look fully new if the inside is a mess. If you do not have the right tools for cleaning the interior, it will be time for another shopping trip. To keep the interior of your vehicle clean you will need:
- A shop-vacuum or portable vacuum cleaner
- Glass Cleaner
- Leather care or cleaner (if you have leather seats)
- Cloth Scotch Guard or similar item to make cloth seats stain resistantSometimes this can attract more dust and cause you to clean more often. Use it sparingly.
- Carpet spot cleanerFor any carpet, cloth seat or headline stains
- Armor-all or other vinyl protectorLike the Scotch Guard it can also attract more dust, so use it sparingly.
Cleaning the interior of your automobile can be a small or large task, depending on how clean you normally keep it. If you use your car as your home away from home or as a locker room, it can be rather messy and hard to clean. Instead, if you generally keep your interior neat than cleaning it should be a snap.
You need the vacuum to clean the carpet and go over the seats if they are cloth. Remember to move the front seats both front and back so that you can vacuum under them. Also, get down in the cracks of the seat. The back or trunk of the vehicle will need to be vacuumed out as well.
If the seats are leather, use leather care on them per the instructions of the cleaner. Typically, it calls for you to apply the conditioner with a clean cloth every so often. To keep a schedule you can do this once a month, when you wax your vehicle.
With cloth seats, you can need to check them over for stains and spot treat any stains. After the stains are removed, you can apply a Scotch Guard product that is supposed to help keep cloth seats stain resistant. While checking for stains remember to look up at the headliner and down at the carpet and treat any stains there as well.
For your dashboard, front center control console and door inserts that are made of vinyl, or a similar material, use a protective cleaner such as Armor All. This should be wiped on with a cloth or red rag, taking off dust and other grime as you do so. The areas cleaned should have a nice shiny look afterwards.
To make your car look like new again does not take a lot of money but instead a lot of hard work. If you begin to get on a schedule of washing, waxing and generally cleaning the exterior and interior of the vehicle it will come back to its former glory. All that will be missing is the new car smell, which if you really miss that scent you can buy a car fragrance to even put that smell back in your car.
Alternatively, take it to a detail shop, get the most expensive detail-cleaning job once, and then schedule bi-weekly visits to keep the car sparkling.