Car Cleaning

April 12, 2013 By Mike Lee
Last updated on July 27, 2015

Keeping your pride and joy nice and clean, and shiny, can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. From chrome finishes, alloys wheels, aluminium wheels, plastics, rubber, different paint finishes and much more, there’s a number of products and techniques to keeping it all looking show worthy.

You can buy a lorry load of cleaning products for cleaning and transforming every part of the car, but one things for sure, you will need to use some elbow grease!

Car Washing Chrome Car
Group Car Cleaning                                Shiny Chrome Mercedes


  • Clear out all the rubbish and remove the mats
  • Hoover up as much dirt as possible (if you need a long brush – use it) – don’t forget to clean the mats
  • Give all plastics a quick wipe over to remove surface dust and dirt
  • Hoover up again as best as possible (roof, seats, shelves, dash, in between everywhere, then finally the floor again – under the seats as well
  • Now using interior cleaners, clean all surfaces such as the dash, door handles etc with the appropriate cleaner. Note: don’t use polishes on the steering wheel that will make it slippery
  • If you have leather (seats/full interior), use leather conditioner on it
  • Don’t forget the boot, remove everything (spare tyre, tools, jack) then hoover it and, clean plastics/metal with a cloth

Tip 1: Try WD40 for anything sticky like chewing gum on your cloth seats. Spray it on and leave it for a few minutes, then get a stiff brush to brush it out. (WD40 can also be used on the sticky residue left by stickers on windows).

Tip 2: Compressed air can be used to blow out hard to get to dirt. (usually down between the seats, handbrake lever, down the side of the doors, windscreen, vents etc).

Clean Interior Leather Interior

Taking care of your cars bodywork, isn’t just about giving it a good wax, but rust protection as well. Your cars bodywork gets lots of abuse from the elements, such as other cars fumes, salt laid down in winter, tar, rotten leaves, mud, bird poo, bugs, the sun and rain (acid, oxides and god knows what else).

A general wash of the cars bodywork once a fortnight/month can help get some of that grime off and a good wax every month or 2 will help protect it from those elements. Follow the instructions on any product.

Washing The Car:

  • The first step (and one most people don’t do) is to get a hose and rinse the underside of the car. All that salt from the road will eventually eat away at that metal and turn your car into a bucket of rust
  • Next, make sure you have a mitt and not a sponge, as dirt tends to get trapped in the sponge and can scratch the bodywork.
  • Then start by washing the car with water (hose or bucket only) to get rid of the loose surface dirt and grime, this is important, because any loose dirt left on the surface will scratch the car when you wipe over it. You can use a hose to get into those hard to get too places (under the car, inner arches etc). Warning: if using a pressure washer, be careful not to get too close to the paint work or you could end up removing some of it
  • Now with a soapy mitt start cleaning from the top down (do one area at a time), then rinse the mitt in clean water and rinse the soap off the area you have just cleaned
  • Then take a clean cloth and dry off any water from the bodywork
  • Once you have done the whole car, carry on to the wheels

Dirty Car Car Washed

Brake dust can be a real pain to get off. Use a good quality wheel cleaner on your alloys. For Steel or aluminium, use a light metal cleaner abrasive – aluminium tends to oxidize and you will be surprised how black your cloths will end up.
Aluminium Wheels

Car Wax:

  • When all is dry, apply wax if waxing (see the products instructions). Wax helps protect the paintwork from all those elements and repels water
  • Best to do an area at a time in a circular motion, such as the bonnet, then buff off with a clean soft cloth
  • For that ultimate shine, a good wax buffed over and over again will increase that gloss
  • If you have an electric polisher, that can save some time, but I prefer to do it all by hand

Note: some wax’s are slightly abrasive (read the labels). Most will need to be applied to a cool surface and not in direct sunlight – read the instructions.

Car Cleaning  Car Cleaning
Waxed Paintwork

Depending on how deep the scratch is, you can do several things:
Firstly if it’s a shallow scratch that’s basically on the surface of the paint work, you can use an abrasive purposely made for getting scratches out of car paint. These abrasives can be bought for both metallic (less abrasive) and none metallic paint, something like t-cut. They help merge the paint work around the scratch to hide it.

More serious scratches may require a bit of filling in with touch up paint. You can try to build up the scratch with the touch up paint, then blend it in with t-cut. If the scratch is real deep, it may require a total respray of the whole panel or even the whole side of a car.

Stone chips:
These can rust if deep enough and left untreated.
You can purchase touch up paint kits or using an aerosol, spray a little into the lid and use a toothpick to apply. Make sure the area is clean and dry. Apply the paint to the area and if necessary apply several coats allowing each coat to dry a little between application. If you have a steady hand you can build it up just proud of the bodywork and then using a very fine piece of sand paper, flatten the paint back to an even surface. Use an abbrasive, such as t-cut to finish the area off.

Smear Marks From Other Cars:
These can be gently rubbed away with an abbrasive like t-cut, be careful not to over do it however and end up going all the way through your own paint.

Like the cars bodywork, you want to rinse the glass first to remove dirt on the surface, otherwise there’s a chance you may scratch the glass with the dirt. Don’t use glass cleaner on the windscreen or rear window if fitted with wipers (otherwise they won’t wipe over properly). Make sure you get under the wiper blades, as dirt trapped under them can scratch the windscreen. An old trick is to use newspaper to clean the glass area after you have washed the car, although some newspapers ink can leave a smear look. The best way I have found to get the glass nice and clean, is to dab a little neat screen wash on a cloth and clean over the glass, this really does get it spotless.

Sticker removal: Heat up the sticker with a hairdryer (get the sticker nice and hot, but take care with the glass), then slowly peel the sticker off or use a plastic scrapper if very stubborn. WD40 can be used on the sticky residue left by stickers.

Shiny Chrome Shiny Chrome

Car Being Washed Dirty Car
Car Cleaning Taken To Extremes!