After a tough winter, your car needs some tender loving care. Road salt, frigid temperatures, and the usual wear and tear have given it a beating. Likely, you haven’t been giving it the same level of attention you did before winter set in. The first warm days of the year are ideal for bringing your car back to its former glory, with the following spring cleaning tips something you can handle yourself.
1. Assemble Your Tools
Gather several tools and supplies to give your car a thorough spring cleaning. First, drag out your winterized hose, attach a nozzle, and connect the hose to the spigot.
Second, bring out two buckets — you’ll use one for your car washing solution, the other one for rinsing sponges or a mitt. An assortment of sponges, rags, a hand mitt, and microfiber towels should go with your buckets.
Third, check your supply of car cleaning items because you’ll need various liquids to get the job done. Wash shampoo and conditioner, exterior and interior detailers, a wax liquid, tire cleaner, rim cleaner, a foam applicator, and a lubricator should be gathered. Fourth, bring out a vacuum cleaner. If your supplies are low, spring is also a good time to buy new as auto parts stores run specials to serve spring cleaners such as yourself.
2. Remove Interior Debris
Go through the interior and trunk of your vehicle, removing all garbage left behind. Open up the center console, look through the glove box, and check in-door storage compartments for residual trash. Every nook and cranny of the car should be cleaned out with only required documentation, a flashlight, tire pressure gauge, and loose change remaining.
Wipe down each compartment with a towel and an interior cleaner before putting everything back in its place. Use a special cleaner for wiping down the dashboard and for cleaning around the instrument panel, the center stack, and storage areas.
3. Vacuum Up, Down, and Around
Dust and dirt had months to gather, piling up unchallenged in your car’s cabin. Use a vacuum cleaner to fight back, starting with the headliner and working down along the pillars and then across the dashboard. Move over to the doors and work your way down to the bottom and inside of the storage compartments. Now, clean the seats from the top down to the bottom. Lastly, remove the mats and clean the carpeting.
4. Clean the Floor Mats
If you have all-rubber car mats, turn your nozzle on the most intense setting and hose these down. Move back and forth in a sweeping motion. Add a drop of car cleaning solution to each mat and scrub with the brush. Spray clean with the hose, let dry. For carpeting mats, vacuum separately. Use a seat cleaning solution for tough stains. Allow to air dry.
5. Replace Your Rubber
Temperature extremes cause rubber and other sensitive materials to become brittle and worn. That holds true for your wiper blades what should be replaced in the spring and again in the fall. Your tires can take a much better beating, but if you have snow tires on, you need to have them removed and replaced with your all-season or summer tires.
6. Perform a Lube Job
Newer cars no longer need lubrication to keep suspension and steering systems functioning unless you replaced your manufacturer parts with aftermarket parts. For everyone else, you should apply lubricant to all door, hood, and trunk or liftgate hinges, using a spray silicone lube such as WD-40 or Liquid Wrench.
7. Wash and Wax the Car
With the car windows up and the sun/moon roof closed, spray down your car. Fill up one bucket with car cleaning solution, the second bucket with water. You’ll use that second bucket for rinsing off your mitt or sponge as you go. Work from the top on down, using a mitt or a sponge apply the car cleaning solution with overlapping clockwise strokes. Work the entire surface, except for the glass, while including the bumpers, roof pillars, and rocker panels.
Pay special attention to the wheels wells and underneath areas where salt can collect. Use a mild abrasive to remove bird poop and other stains. Once the surface is covered, spray clean by using a gentle setting. To dry, use only 100 percent cotton towels to avoid damaging the paint. Soak up water droplets and pat dry. Complete your work by polishing and waxing, following the supplier’s instructions to get this job done.
8. Clean the Tires and Wheels
One of the last exterior areas of the car to clean are its wheels and tires. Use the car cleaning solution here, but once dry apply an alloy wheel cleaner and paste. Do this only after you have cleaned the tires.
9. Clean the Windows and Glass Surfaces
Use a glass cleaner and paper towels to clean windows and other glass surfaces including the windshield, back window, and the side mirrors. An aerosol solution can provide a concentrated application without overspray. Tail lights, LED daytime running lamps, headlamps, and fog lights can be cleaned with window cleaner too.
10. Complete Your Work
Finish up by taking a damp rag and wiping off each door’s entranceway. Then, run the towel along the metal perimeter surfaces of the inside of each door, the trunk lid or the liftgate.
A thorough spring cleaning can restore your car’s previous luster. It also makes it easier to handle future cleanings as packed down grime and dirt is no longer present.
See Also — 4 Car Upholstery Cleaning Tips