man cleaning his car like a pro

How To Clean A Car Like A Pro With These 12 Simple Tricks

Let’s face it, cleaning the car is a chore and with so many car washes popping up it is easy to ditch the dirty work and head to the local car wash instead.

However, done right car cleaning can be a satisfying process, and you don’t need to be a professional to get great results - meaning it won’t just be your car that it is gleaming, it will also be your pride.

We’ve rounded up our car cleaning tips so that you can get a showroom worthy finish with the minimum effort.

How to clean a car like a pro?

1. Choose the right time to wash your car

Few of us would choose to wash the car when it is likely to rain as your efforts would literally wash away. However, washing your car on a hot dry day in direct sunlight can be equally as counter-intuitive as doing it before a downpour.

That’s because the water can evaporate too quickly leaving dried on grimy residues before you get a chance to wipe them off. On top of that, the heat can affect the way in which the chemicals in car cleaning products work. This is particularly the case with dark coloured cars which absorb more heat and become hotter quicker.

If we are blessed with a spell of dry sunny weather and you’re desperate to wash your car, then it is a good idea to move the car to a shady spot to wash it.

man with pink glove washing a car with a sponge

2. Remove any rubbish

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of car cleaning, it is a good idea to simply remove any rubbish or unnecessary clutter from your car. Only keep what you absolutely need in the vehicle as any extra weight can negatively affect your fuel consumption. What’s more, you’ll be surprised at how much better your car looks just for getting rid of the mess.

3. Clean your car mats

Remove your car mats carefully to ensure that any loose dirt or debris doesn’t fall off into the car.

Some people shake their mats however, this can result in dirt going everywhere instead, brush the mats out over a bin to remove any loose dirt.

If you have rubber car mats, you can wash them down using warm soapy water. Whereas carpet mats should be washed by hand using detergent or popped in the washing machine if they are machine washable.

person cleaning car dashboard with blue cloth

4. Clean the dashboard and instruments

The next thing to tackle is the dashboard and instruments before you get to hoovering the main bulk of the car. Use a soft paintbrush to gently sweep dust and dirt into a hoover on hard to reach areas such as the air vents.

For the main dash and instrument controls, you should use a damp cloth to wipe away any dust or dirt. Some people then advocate using a silicone spray to create a shine on your dash. However, this kind of product can also leave an unsightly glare as well as being potentially dangerous if for example, you got it on your steering wheel and it compromised your grip.

5. Hoover

Before you start hoovering it is a good idea to use a stiff brush to loosen any dirt or move dirt into a place you can reach with the hoover, as this will make your job easier in the long run. If you have pets and find pet hair to be a problem, before getting the hoover out use a wet rubber glove to help you collect up excess pet hair.

Once you’ve done the prep, it’s time to give your car a good hoover. Reaching all areas of your car can be tricky, so if your hoover has different tools for getting into crevices, try these out and see which works best. You might find you have to switch tools throughout to allow you to reach different areas better.

6. Door openings and sills

No professional valeter would miss this step out, but it is an area most of actually forget. However, once the rest of the car is gleaming this is an area that is likely to stick out like a sore thumb.

You should treat this area just like the exterior and wash it using a sponge and clean soapy water. Be careful not to splash your interior though as you could end up staining your upholstery.

man pre washing a red car with yellow cloth

7. Pre-wash

Pre-washing is a step you should not avoid if you want a professional finish. A pre-wash helps to rinse off excess mud and dirt and reduces the chance of you scraping the car with debris later on in the washing process.

First soak the car with a hosepipe or pressure washer, making sure you pay particular attention to areas caked in mud. Once the car is wet, you can spray on a pre-cleaner solution which will start to breakdown more stubborn grime.

8. Wash

Always use two buckets when washing your car; one with clean soapy water for cleaning the car and one with just water for rinsing your sponge in. You should also only ever use a specific car wash on your car and should avoid using washing up liquid or other detergents as they can contain products that can damage or breakdown your cars protective wax layer.

Start cleaning at the top of your vehicle, and work down the sides, front and rear of the car. This way you move debris and grit down and off your vehicle instead of spreading it about. Don’t use circular motions either, this can leave unsightly swirls on your vehicle.

Once you have washed the car, you need to rinse the soapy suds off. It is a good idea to clean and rinse the car in sections to prevent one section from drying out before you have rinsed it.

Car Washing Tips

• If you find a particularly stubborn area of dirt or grime, then resist the urge just to keep scrubbing at it, which could result in you damaging the paintwork. Instead, use a tar and bug spray remover or a clay bar to help lift the dirt.

• If you drop your sponge on the floor, rinse it thoroughly before using it again.

• Grit guards prevent your sponge from reaching the bottom of your bucket so can help prevent you from picking grit and dirt up on the sponge and then spreading it on the car.

• Make sure you replenish both buckets of water if they look particularly grimy or feel gritty.

man waxing a black car with a red cloth

9. Wax

Waxing your car is not necessary every time you wash your vehicle, with most valeters recommending waxing your vehicle just two to four times a year.

Before you start waxing your vehicle, you should make sure the car is completely rinsed off and fully dry. You should never leave the car to dry naturally as this can result in smears, instead use a chamois leather or silicon squeegee to get a smear-free finish on your vehicle.

Once dry you can apply the wax in straight lines, leave it to dry and then polish it off using a microfiber cloth.

A handy tip to check you have a great quality finish is to place a ruler perpendicular to the surface to see how many numbers you can read in the reflection. The more numbers you can see the better the shine you have achieved.

Some valeters recommend waxing twice, however, it is important that you don’t use more wax than necessary.

clean alloy wheels on a blue car

10. Wheels and Tyres

To tackle the wheels and tyres, you should start with a stiff brush to loosen brake dust and road grime.

Once you have loosened this, it is a good idea to use a specialist wheel degreaser to wash the wheels and tyres to remove the grime without causing any damage. What’s more, some of these products even contain sealants to help grime building up in the future.

Don’t use the same cloth or sponge for your wheels and tyres as you used on your vehicle. Your tyres are often dirtier than the rest of your vehicle, so it is a good idea to have a dedicated wheel and tyre cloth to prevent scratching your paintwork next time you wash your car.

Remember to push the car forward a little, so that you can reach the entire circumference of the tyre.

Once the wheels and tyres are clean, you can use tyre shine to give the tyres a like-new look.

11. Clean Glass

You should leave cleaning any glasswork until last, otherwise, the glass may pick up dirt and grime or streak during the above steps. You should clean both interior and exterior glass and use a glass cleaner that has been designed for automotive use to get the best quality finish.

Make sure you remember to wind the windows down slightly, so you can access the top edges of the window which often end up grimy.

12. Minor Cosmetics Repairs

Once you’ve finished cleaning your vehicle, you may notice small scratches, cosmetic flairs or faded paintwork. While any major repair work should be left to the professionals, these minor jobs can be carried out fairly easily at home.

You can polish faded paintwork to give it a new lease of life. Polish is abrasive and works by removing the very top layer of paintwork leaving a shiny new layer beneath.

Follow these twelve steps every time you clean your car and you’ll be amazed by the professional looking results. Once your car is looking in tip top condition then we’d recommend taking a look at the extensive car accessories we have available. This includes both exterior and interior styling and means you should have no problem keeping your car looking its best.