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Sue Hayward

10 smart tips to clean your car

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Here’s how to wash your car like a pro.

Washing a car

Think you know how to wash your car? Doing a DIY job with a bucket and sponge beats paying car wash prices. But when it comes to it, there are a few tips to help you get it right every time.

And keeping your car clean will also help get rid off condensation.

Wash your car on a cloudy day

A sunny Sunday morning may mean you’re in car cleaning mood, but washing your car in bright sunlight can cause a streaky finish. The reason being is the sun dries it before you do, which can leave unsightly watermarks.

Give it a ‘pre-wash’

It is worth taking the extra time to do this using a hose or bucket of clean water. It also loosens up dirt and grime which makes it quicker and easier to clean the car during the soapy wash.

Plus, it means you’re less likely to get gritty bits stuck to your sponge or wash mitt which can scratch the paintwork.

If you’re using the hose, go down cracks, crevices and anywhere that the dirt can stick.

Swap sponges for wash mitts

Sponges have flat surfaces and some motoring experts say this makes it easier for bits of grit to get stuck in them which can scratch your paintwork.

Get a wash mitt, which will be kinder to your car. You can pick one up in motoring stores such as Halfords for around £3.

Treat it to a shampoo

A squirt of washing up liquid in a bucket of water can seem the cheap and easy option when cleaning your car. But detergent is too harsh on the paintwork and it can damage and scratch the finish.

You can buy car shampoo anywhere from Halfords to Homebase and you don’t have to spend a fortune. Although, the more expensive ones do claim to add wax as you wash.

Sponge on a bonnet

Use two buckets

Fill one with a mix of warm water and car shampoo solution and another with clean warm water.

Rinse and wring out your dirty wash mitt frequently, or sponge if you’re sticking with this. This way you won’t pick up the same old dirt from the soapy bucket and wipe it back on the car.

Start at the top

Start with the roof and work down. Always leave the dirtiest areas like the bottom of the doors, bumper and wheels till last.

Dry it off

You may save time leaving your car to “drip dry”, but it can leave a streaky finish.

Instead, it is better to dry with a micro fibre towel or chamois. And don’t skimp and use an ordinary kitchen towel as these are more likely to leave bits of fluff behind.

Give it a wax

It can seem like a whole lot of extra effort, but it does give your car the professional finish and adds a protective barrier against the elements.

Ideally you should give it a wax every three months.

Blitz dashboard dirt

Don’t forget the inside. Give your car a thorough vacuum and wipe down the dashboard.

Depending on the dashboard finish you may be able to use a soft cloth, an anti-bacterial spray or even a pack of baby wipes to do the job.

Clean the car seats

Car seats take a hammering and can collect all manner of fluff, gunk, bits of food and sticky spills, especially if you’ve got kids.

Give the seats and the mats a thorough vacuum using the upholstery attachment. And pick up stray hairs or lingering fluff with a lint roller which you can pick up from places like Lakeland or Clas Ohlson.

Remember how musty your house smells when it’s been shut up? See if you can replace your cabin’s air filter to get rid of the smell. And finish it all off by popping in an air freshener.

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