The Best Way to Clean Your Car’s Hard-to-Reach Places

When it comes to washing your car, it’s not the dirt you can see that’s the problem…it’s the dirt you can’t see. Whether you look inside or out, vehicles are filled with hundreds of tiny nooks and crannies, many of which become home to dirt, rocks, food particles, and worse.

Those hard-to-reach places might be a little bit more difficult to clean, but they aren’t impossible. Next time you hit the car wash, here’s a quick and handy guide to getting a deeper clean.

Cleaning the Interior

  • Remove any Removables: The best way to deep clean a car’s interior is to make it accessible. The easily removed parts (like floor mats) should come out every time you vacuum. You can also look into removing the middle console, the door panels, or even the seats, if they’re easily taken out. Nothing will get in and under better than opening up the space.
  • Use Air: Vacuum intake and outake are both your friend when cleaning a car’s interior. You can use traditional intake vacuums to clean up the worst debris, and reverse the air flow (or even use an air compressor or can of compressed air) to blow out the harder to reach places.
  • Clean the Vents: Using a compressor or can of air to blow the dust out of the vent slats is one idea, or you can use a toothbrush, cotton swab, or other item with a long, narrow reach to individually clean each vent hole. This is especially important if you’re trying to eliminate smells that have gathered in the heating/cooling system.
  • Long-Reach Dusters: If you don’t want to invest in heavy-duty detailing equipment, purchase a disposable duster with a long reach. These work best when you just want to wipe away a build-up of dirt rather than provide a deep clean.

Cleaning the Exterior

  • Invest in a Detailing Brush: You can use a toothbrush or cotton swab to get those tricky spots on your car’s exterior, but they aren’t likely to stand up to the harder wear and tear for very long. A small detailing brush that won’t scratch your paint is worth the investment.
  • Focus on the Wheel Wells: The most common place in need of detailed work on a car’s exterior is the wheel well. Most people attack these areas with a toothbrush (or the aforementioned detailing brush) and a specialty wheel cleaner that will break apart the caked on grease and grime.
  • High-Powered Spray: Just as a powerful burst of air can clean your car’s interior, so too can a powerful burst of water take care of the outside.
  • Rotary Tool: When you need a little more power than a brush can provide, a rotary tool (like a Dremel) and a buffing or gentle bit can make a huge difference. Because the tool provides the power instead of your muscles, you can get more work done in a shorter period of time.

In all the cleaning and detailing, don’t forget to pay attention to the undercarriage. A good undercarriage spray will take care of most of the tiny details underneath your vehicle so you don’t have to climb underneath and reach the dirt that way.