August 11, 2014

Tips and Products for Cleaning Your Used Car

A dirty car doesn’t seem like a big deal. Who hasn’t drawn a little picture with their finger in the dust on their car? But in reality, dirt and grime is bad for your car, both inside and out. It’s corrosive and can harm your car’s finish, frame, and interior. Keeping your car free of grime helps it last longer and look better. Here are some tips and products you can use to keep your used car clean.

car cleaning tips

INTERIOR CLEANING

Car Cleaning Wipes

One product that can keep the interior of your car clean and beautiful is a disposable car wipe. These wipes can clean and protect the leather, plastic, and other surfaces inside your car. If you have children or pets, you can even keep them in the car for a quick and simple cleaning solution. However, you should be cautious using them on some parts of your car because, depending on the product, they can leave surfaces feeling slippery or sticky.

Car wipes are generally good for cleaning any leather or plastic surfaces in your car. If you have a leather interior, make sure the wipes you’re using are leather-safe. Most interior wipes will give surfaces a bright shine, so test them on an inconspicuous area first. You should know that some wipes that work for leather don’t work for plastic and vice-versa. Using these products on the wrong surface can leave a sticky or messy finish or even damage the surface you use them on. Make sure to read the instructions and warnings first.

Vacuuming

Another very simple thing you can do to keep your car looking clean is to regularly vacuum your carpets, seats, and other interior surfaces. The interior of a car can get dusty and gritty very quickly. It only gets worse if you regularly eat in your car or if you work outdoors. Vacuuming is the best way to keep dirt and grime from building up.

For the most part, vacuuming the inside of your car is as simple as vacuuming your home. Most people concentrate their cleaning on the carpets, since they often have the most visible dirt. However, in many cases the seats, dashboard, and other surfaces are holding just as much dust and dirt; it’s just harder to see. Also remember to thoroughly clean in the cracks and creases in and underneath the seats, as well as between the seats and the center console. Finally, if you have stubborn dirt in the floor mats, it can help to remove them and use a vacuum with a rotary brush.

Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning

For stains and ground-in dirt and grime you might want to use a carpet shampoo or carpet cleaner on the floors and upholstery of your car. These products can return your vehicle’s interior to like-new condition, but they are also more time consuming and involve a bit more work.

There are several different types of products that you can use to clean your car’s carpets. The simplest are spray-on carpet and upholstery cleaners that use a mild detergent to clean the fabrics. More involved products require you to mix them with water, but they also allow you to strengthen the mixture for more fabric-cleaning power.

Regardless of which product you choose, you’ll want to apply it to your carpets or upholstery evenly and then scrub lightly with a brush or clean cloth. If you have stained or extremely dirty fabric you may need to use a second application. It can help to allow the product to soak into the fabrics and break up stains and dirt. However, you should be careful to not use too much water or let it soak for too long – leaving your carpet or upholstery wet can lead to mildew, mold, and foul odors.

EXTERIOR CLEANING

Mild Car Soap

Cleaning the exterior of your car is just as important as cleaning the interior. Dirt and road grime can damage the finish and paint of your car, and it can cause corrosion on the frame and underbody. The best way to solve this problem? A classic soap-and-water car wash.

There are many products for cleaning your car, from simple all-purpose soap to specialized cleaning solutions. For most cars, though, a mild detergent is all you’ll need. Simply mix your soap with water and apply it to your wet car with a soft sponge or cloth, then rinse it off. Remember not to scrub the finish of your car too hard: car paint and wax is surprisingly sensitive, and you can easily scratch or damage your exterior if you’re too zealous in your cleaning. Don’t forget to clean the wheels and hard-to-reach areas, too. These are the places where dirt and moisture build up the most, causing corrosion and other problems.

Car Wax & Polish

After cleaning your car, the best thing you can do to keep it looking great is to use a wax or polish. Car waxes give your car’s paint an additional level of protection, and they make your car look shiny and clean. As with most car products, proper application is very important. The key to applying wax to your car is to do it inside or in the shade. Applying wax in full sunlight, especially in a hot environment like Oklahoma, can cause the wax to cloud and harden quickly. By applying in a cool or shady environment you get more time to work with the wax and get it looking perfect.

Car waxes come in two varieties: newer synthetic waxes and “classic” natural waxes. In most cases the synthetic waxes last longer and offer better protection, but generally cost more. That said, either one will protect the finish of your vehicle, so the choice is up to you. No matter which product you use, you’ll want to apply the wax with a microfiber cloth or smooth sponge. Work in small concentric circles, one area at a time, and then remove the excess wax with a clean cloth. A properly-applied coat of wax can protect your car for months. Most experts recommend reapplying wax every three to six months, depending on your driving habits.

We also have a final waxing note about spray and liquid waxes. While these products might seem simple and convenient to use, these waxes don’t offer the same protection or longevity as a hand-applied wax. You shouldn’t rely on them to protect your car unless you plan on reapplying them frequently. Instead, they work best as a “touch-up” between applications of regular wax.

Glass Cleaner

“A clean windshield makes a clean car.” The windshield is the single most important part of your car’s body in many ways, and keeping it clean keeps you safe and makes driving much easier. A good glass cleaner used on the exterior and interior of the car can do wonders for your visibility while driving and make your car look better, too.

When choosing a glass cleaner for your car, make sure you choose one that is streak-free or formulated for auto glass. Spray the cleaner directly onto the glass and then clean it off with long, even strokes in the same direction. Don’t wipe in circles or in different directions, as this can increase streaking. Another tip is to avoid using paper towels, as they leave lint and dust behind on the glass. Instead, try using old newspaper pages, which will give you a more even, streak-free clean.

Of course, no amount of cleaning can save a car that is old or worn out. If you’re looking for a new used car to replace your current vehicle, take a look at our great cars here at The KEY. We’re Oklahoma City’s top buy here pay here car dealer, and we can help you find a great used car even if you have poor or no credit. Visit us today, or take our two-minute pre-approval quiz to check out our inventory online.