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Top Tips for Cleaning your Car

Is this you on a Sunday morning?

Throughout winter we live most of our lives in darkness. In the mornings, we generally aim to get to our cars as quickly as possible in a bid to miss the inevitable rush-hour traffic. Head-down we scurry forward, clutching keys while making a mental list of everything that needs done that day. And by the time we get home at night, we are most likely to be thinking about what’s for dinner and aim for the front door as quickly as possible.

Fast forward to the weekend and daylight! And while that can be an instant mood lifter it also shines a light on your car. Driving through mud spattered roads in winter can take its toll and your pride and joy may well be in need of some tlc in order to make it gleam again.

Follow these handy tips and your car could be in showroom condition faster than you can say – ‘pass the chamois!’

Get Equipped. The first thing is to get equipped with three basics: a pressure washer, a good quality lambswool wash mitt and a soft dedicated drying towel. Most fine scratches and marks can occur during the washing process, so these will help prevent that basic mistake.

Bath time. Pre-soak the car to remove heavy contaminants and use mild soap and your lambswool wash-mitt. Wash one section at a time, then rinse off. Start with the roof of the car, then move on to the hood and the rear. Next, clean the upper sections of the sides, and then, finally, clean the lower areas, including the rocker panels, which invariably have the most dirt. Why this order? If you clean the lower sections first, you’ll wash the dirt from the top of the car back down onto the lower parts. But, more importantly, you run the risk of having small pieces of debris adhere to the sponge which could scratch your vehicle.

Polish Less is more with polish. A couple of “penny-sized dollops on a suitable applicator pad” should be adequate for a 2ft area. It should then be worked into the paint in straight lines ensuring the whole area is covered. Leave it for the instructed length of time before removing and buffing with a suitable microfibre cloth.

Master the art of glass cleaning . No needs for expensive product here. Having two microfibre cloths - one damp and the other is clean and dry - is key. Wipe the glass thoroughly with the damp one then before the smears have evaporated quickly use the dry one to buff the glass to a crystal-clear finish. This tip is also useful when washing windows indoors!

Its all about the detail. Door hinges and door sills often get forgotten. Whilst grease is essential on 'metal on metal' moving parts, the dirt that accumulates in this area is often the first thing that grabs the eye when opening the door

Seal the wheels. Wheels can often be overlooked, yet they get a lot of abuse from varying temperatures and brake dust. It’s worth applying a wheel sealant when they're new (and regularly topped up) to prevent the brake dust from bonding to the wheel in the first place. You'll never stop wheels from getting dirty but cleaning at least once a week will keep them from deteriorating too much.

Bug Bear. More problematic in summer and on those long drives, bugs can a real ‘pest’. If your paint is well polished and protected, contaminants will find it harder to bond to the paintwork. However given time the acids present in the bugs can eat through the pain and may leave stains that will need to be aggressively polished out. Best thing to do here is act as quickly as possible.

By Tracey McBain