Archive for Cleaning Tips – Page 2

How to Remove Water Spots

Few things are worse than going through the entire process of washing and detailing your car only to drive away with water spots scattered all over the finish—especially when they harden and won’t easily wipe away. Read More

What Makes Car Wash Soap So Effective?

There’s no denying it—no matter what kind of DIY car wash products you buy or how hard you try to re-create the car wash experience at home, you can never get that same colorful, foamy soap that’s at the drive-thru car wash. As a result, you can never quite get that same perfect shine at home, either.

So what is it about car wash soap that makes it so unique? The answer is more complicated than you might think.  Read More

What to Do When Your Car is Too Big for a Drive-Thru Wash

Automatic car washes are designed to handle a variety of vehicle makes, models, and sizes, but that doesn’t mean every single car is going to fit. Large suburbans and trucks, recreational vehicles, and cars with specialty aftermarket upgrades (like oversized tires, spoilers, or even large antennas) are often unable to attach to the automated system.

If you’re used to a quick and easy wash, this can be a disappointment. Fortunately, there are ways to enjoy a fast and professional car wash even if you don’t fit in the traditional drive-thru.  Read More

How to Tell When Your Car Needs to be Waxed

There are many reasons to regularly wax your car. It looks good, it repels water, and it increases your car value over time. It also protects your paint job and clear coat against environmental damages caused by UV rays, chemicals from the road, dirt/debris, bird droppings, tree sap, and mineral deposits in your local water source, just to name a few. In fact, if you never wax your car, you’ll eventually see the damages in the form of dulled paint and areas where the paint is peeling or chipping away. Read More

How Important is it to Dry Your Car after a Wash?

If you’ve ever run your car through an automatic car wash or drive-up wash stand, you’ll always find people who are taking the time to dry their vehicles by hand. And for good reason. This step, which might seem like a waste of time, is actually one of the most important ones in the car washing process. Read More

DIY Car Detailing for Beginners

Car detailing can be an overwhelming task if you’ve never done it before. Not only are cars are full of all kinds of mysterious nooks and crannies you don’t want to overlook, but there are so many different products on the market, it can be hard to know where to start.

Ideally, you should have a professional detail done at least twice a year. This will give your car a good foundation to start from, and ensure that any areas you overlook are tended to. From there, you can DIY your detailing once a month or so depending on your needs.

Car Detailing Essentials

For your first few detailing attempts, don’t go all out spending a fortune on specialty cleaners and detailing tools. You might not get as deep of a clean as a professional detailer, but you can get a feel for the process and what is involved. Most of the time, you can get away with some combination of the following:

  • Vacuum
  • Soft Brush
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Carpet Cleaner
  • All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Air Canister
  • Wheel Cleaner/Wheel Brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Paint Clay
  • Wax

You’ll also want to have traditional car wash supplies on hand, including things like buckets and soap. Although this list might seem overwhelming, you’ll probably find many of these items in your usual cleaning supplies.

Detailing the Interior

You don’t have to start on the inside of the car, but it tends to be easier to move from the inside-out when detailing. (This is especially true if you have kids or pets who leave lots of junk behind.)

  1. Start by doing a thorough inside clean with a vacuum.
  2. Use the air canister to clean out vents and clear dust away from the dashboard and console.
  3. Where possible, remove parts that are easily lifted out (including floor mats and cup holders) so they can be washed separately.
  4. Use any necessary cleaners for the dashboard and other surfaces. (Note: if you have leather interiors, you’ll want to use special care and products.)
  5. Wash the carpets.
  6. Clean the inside of the windows.
  7. Don’t forget to include the trunk and areas like the glovebox or seat pouches.

Detailing the Exterior

When you detail the outside of the car, it’s best to start with the wheels, as they tend to require the most work. These will probably be the most work, as you’ll need lots of scrubbing and elbow grease, but the results are almost always worth it. From there, you can work on the rest of the car from bottom to top.

  1. Apply a cleaner to loosen grit and grime from the wheels.
  2. Scrub the wheels using a toothbrush or other small implement.
  3. Wash and dry the entire car according to your usual custom.
  4. Use paint clay to remove any lingering spots on the car’s surface (click here for a quick and easy YouTube tutorial on using clay).
  5. Focus on all seams and areas where the car’s exterior meets the interior.
  6. Clean any plastic parts and/or moving parts like windshield wipers.
  7. Deep clean the windows.
  8. Deep clean the lights.
  9. Apply a final wax and/or sealant.

Don’t forget that the first few times you detail, it’s likely to take you some time to complete everything on this checklist. The good news is, the more often you detail your car, the easier it will be to maintain a perfect clean.

Getting Rid of Leaf Stains

Cleaning car leaf stains from your paintMost of us are accustomed to dealing with the biggest car wash challenges—bugs that stick to the bumper and windshield, harsh chemicals kicked up from winter roadways, and sap and pollen falling from trees. However, there’s another unlikely culprit you need to watch out for: leaf stains.

The beautiful autumn foliage might look great as it falls from the trees, but when they land on your car, there’s a chance you could end up with a dirty, leaf-stained exterior. This is especially true if the leaves have been on the car for some time, as the natural tannins in the leaves can transfer to your paint and leave difficult-to-remove spots.

  1. Step One: Remove the leaves. Don’t brush them off (or even turn your leaf blower on the car and remove them that way). Instead, pick them off by hand to reduce the chances that they’ll cause further staining or scratching.
  2. Step Two: Perform an initial clean. Mild leaf stains may come off in your regular wash, so it’s always best to start here. Go through the traditional cycles of rinsing, scrubbing, and drying, but skip the wax (for now). Once the car has been fully cleaned, you’ll know whether or not the leaf stains will need more intensive work.
  3. Step Three: Use a leaf stain remover. Specialty products exist to help break down the leaf stains without damaging your paint, but you don’t necessarily have to invest in these. Heavy-duty stain removers and car-specific products can often do the trick (especially if you invest in elbow grease to go along with them). The most important thing is to pick a product that won’t damage your car’s clear coat and to scrub with a non-abrasive pad.
  4. Step Four: When necessary, go deeper. If the leaves have been on your car for quite some time, the tannins may have worked their way through the clear coat. If this is the case, you have no choice but to remove the top layer of coating and possibly even part of the paint. By following the same steps required to remove scratches and scuffs, you can eliminate these stains without having to invest in a whole new paint job. Just make sure you reapply the clear coat once you’re done.
  5. Step Five: Wax the car. Once you’re certain the leaf stains are gone, it’s a good idea to add a protective wax layer. Not only will this give your car a glossy shine, but you’ll be better protected against future leaf stains—not to mention all the other common offenders.

Like most car maintenance issues, leaf stains are the least amount of hassle when you take care of them immediately. Get a regular wash, apply a protective wax coat, and if your car is an older model, you may want to look into a new application of clear coat so future leaf stains will be less likely to work their way through to the paint.

Why DIY Car Washes are the Best

 Do it yourself  car wash dryingThere’s nothing like good, old-fashioned elbow grease when it comes to getting the most out of your car wash. Although there’s something to be said for automatic car washes, which allow you to get in and out without even exiting your car, nothing will get your vehicle in better condition—and for less money—than a self-serve car wash. Here’s why.

  • Full Cycle on Your Terms: Self-service car washes are like automated car washes in that your automobile goes through a carefully tested cycle of soaking, washing, rinsing, and waxing. However, unlike an automated wash, you get to decide how long each cycle lasts. Do you have lots of caked on mud and windshield splatter? You should soak for a few extra minutes. Has it been a while since you put a coat of wax on your car? Spend a little extra time making sure you wax all the nooks and crannies. Because you control how long each cleaning step takes, you can customize your wash to your ride.
  • Personalized Inspection: Chances are you don’t do a walk-around of your car each night when you get home from work. A car wash is a great opportunity to perform a careful inspection of your vehicle without taking extra time out of your day to do it. When you’re up close and personal doing the scrubbing, spraying, and wiping for yourself, you can keep an eye out for any dings or dents that might need your attention. You can also use this time to check the pressure of your tires, assess your windshield wipers, or even peek under the hood to ensure your fluid levels are good.
  • Clean Inside and Out: If you’re like most car owners, the inside of your car gets just as dirty as the outside. With a DIY car wash, you can pay equal attention to both the interior and exterior. Before you pull into the stall, stop at the vacuums to clear out the garbage, clean the upholstery, and run a window cleaner over the inside of the windshield.
  • Provide Your Own Detailing: There are certain parts of a car that require a more detailed focus than you get from an automated wash. For example, your headlights should be regularly polished, and you may need to work double duty to clean off a bug shield or get the chrome on your wheels shining. During a DIY car wash, you can do as much (or as little) detail work as you like. Many people find it handy to carry their own supplies for the details, while others take advantage of the materials available at the car wash itself.
  • Less Water Waste: One of the rarely discussed benefits of a self-service car wash is the positive impact it has on the environment. Because you control the amount of time spent washing the car, you determine how much water is being used or not. And because you’re at a professional wash instead of at home, the drained water isn’t being put directly into the ground. In fact, this type of car wash is considered the most eco-friendly.

DIY car washes are also great for providing you with exercise, a long-lasting appreciation for your vehicle, and, in some cases, a chance to have some fun with your kids. Here in Salt Lake City, we find that lots of families stop by to work together to clean their cars, staying active and healthy while they do it!

Car Maintenance Checklist You Can Perform at the Car Wash

Check your cars exterior for scratches and dingsRegular car maintenance doesn’t have to be a hassle. By taking ten extra minutes the next time you stop at the car wash, you can combine the task of cleaning your vehicle and making sure everything is in working order. Save time by getting everything done at once and save money by taking care of potential problems before they arise.

Vehicle Exterior

As you walk around your car soaking, scrubbing, and rinsing, keep an eye on these features:

  • Body for cracks/dings/scratches
  • Wipers for wear and tear
  • Headlights and taillights for cracks
  • Tire tread and condition
  • Windows and windshield for damage/deep stains

Although it’s not recommended that you leave your car running or the lights on while you’re washing the car, you can also take a moment to flip the lights on and perform a walk-around that way. This will let you know if any of the lights need to be replaced. (If you have someone with you, have them sit in the driver’s seat and press the brakes so you can check those lights, as well.)

It’s also a good idea to keep a pressure gauge in your car toolkit so you can check the pressure in your tires. Many car washes have air available, so it’s a good time to inflate should your pressure be low.

Vehicle Interior

As you’re vacuuming and dusting the car’s interior, look at:

  • Tint for bubbling/peeling
  • Vents for heavy dust/poor air quality
  • Seat belts and child seats for security
  • Odometer/check engine lights for any needed updates
  • Mats for excessive wear and tear
  • Upholstery for stains and rips

This area tends to be the easiest to look over, as most interior issues will come to your attention as they arise.

Under the Hood

If you aren’t sure what you’re looking at when you crack open the car’s hood, you may want to have your mechanic walk you through the basic maintenance steps the next time you’re in for a tune-up. Although the engine can be intimidating, you can attend to many of these issues on your own, especially if all the car needs is a fluid topped off:

  • Air filter
  • Accessory belts
  • Battery (especially for acid buildup)
  • Fluid levels (coolant, oil, automatic transmission fluid level, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid)
  • Hoses and wiring

With the right amount of prevention and care, you can improve your car’s appearance while ensuring it runs well for years to come. Pack a car wash prep kit and take a few extra minutes to get the most out of your automotive investment. You—and your car—are worth it!

The Difference Car Wax Makes

Benefits of car wax shine, paint and finish protectionYou already take the time to wash and rinse your car on a regular basis. You stop by the car wash every week to keep your exterior looking great. And you never park out in the sun or elements, so you aren’t too worried about the damages of the environment.

Do you really need to worry about car wax, too?

The short answer is yes. Car wax is a lot like a clear coat of nail polish or that final sealant on top of your deck—it’s the last layer of protection against the outside. Not only does it provide protection against the elements, but also from daily wear and tear.

For example, when you use a car (or your fingernails or deck, for that matter), you’re putting a strain on the finish. Dropping things on the surface, heavy treads, and even well-intentioned cleaning all contribute to the final condition. With a wax layer in place, you’re never directly impacting the underlying foundation—you’re only interacting with the wax.

Benefits of Car Wax Shine and Protection

While anyone who wants to keep their car’s exterior in good repair should use car wax, there are other benefits, as well.

  • Protect the Paint: The more coats of wax you have, the better protected the paint underneath is. If you’re worried about fading, scratching, or other damages to your car’s paint, then wax should become your best friend.
  • Shiny Finish: Most car waxes offer a reflective shine that looks great under the sparkling Salt Lake sun. If you love that glossy, straight-off-the-lot shine, car wax will help you achieve it.
  • Sun Damage Protection: That glossy shine isn’t just for looks—it’s also helpful in reflecting the sun’s harmful UV rays. Over a long period of time, the UV rays can break down your car’s color. With wax, the damage is much more minimal.
  • Keep Cleaner for Longer: The wax also helps repel dirt and water streaks. We’ve all seen how beads of water run off a waterproof surface as compared to a non-waterproof one—wax offers a water barrier and a dirt barrier so that your car stays cleaner for longer.

Although you should do a deep car wax by hand once or twice a year, most modern cars can get by on a spray-on wax the majority of the time. During your next visit to the car wash, take a few extra minutes to use the spray wax feature such as our Turtle Wax ICE, covering all the nooks and crannies on your vehicle’s exterior. For a small investment of time and money, you’ll get big returns!