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Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Car Clean

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There is nothing worse than hopping into a filthy vehicle. The smell, the dirt, the dust, it just takes away from the overall look and feel of your vehicle and can cause people to ask themselves, why exactly is this car not cared for. Now a truck or car that is strictly used for work may be a different story, but in the detailing world most of us want the exterior and interior of our vehicles to be pristine. We always talk about what products you can use on specific areas to keep them looking their best, but we rarely cover more maintenance or proactive ways to keep your car clean. Take the time to read some of our tips for keeping your car clean below!

  1. Garage It – It may seem obvious but if possible, keeping your car in a garage is arguably the best way to keep the exterior of your car clean. It keeps the paint away from sun, rain, salt, snow, etc. and if your car is freshly detailed, it will allow you to keep that shine going for much longer!  If you are like me and have a garage packed with random stuff, rent a dumpster, donate some of that stuff and get your car in the garage!
  2. Wipe Your Feet – Take a second to give your feet a quick wipe before hopping into your car. You will be surprised at the amount of dirt that can be on the bottom of your shoes and with a quick wipe, you can keep some dirt and grime from ever entering the vehicle. Another option is to splurge and pick up some heavy duty rubber mats. It is amazing how much dirt these mats keep off your carpets, making future cleanings so much easier.  These are a must for anyone living in an area that features lots of snow!
  3. Wash Your Hands – You will be surprised at exactly how dirty your hands can be after shaking hands, opening doors, eating food, etc. combined with lotions, natural human oils, makeup, etc.  These everyday contaminants can easily go from your hands to the buttons, steering wheel, door handles, shifter and anything else you touch. Washing your hands can make all the difference in your car. I mean, who wants to touch a dirty steering wheel anyways!
  4. What Comes In, Must Go Out – Give yourself the rule that any bags, wrappers, food, etc. that you bring in, must come out of the car the same day. Don’t leave anything in the car that can instead be thrown in the trash can or stored in your house. The less clutter in the car, the less you have to clean.
  5. Don’t Eat Inside Your Car – I know I mentioned food in the tip above, but one of the best ways to keep your car clean is by not eating in it. Sometimes you are running out of time and need to grab a quick bite to eat, it happens to everyone, but any food, drinks, etc. will only increase your chances of a spill or some sort of mess. More commonly you’ll get food residue on your hands that inevitably transfers on to something in your vehicle.  Keep food away from the vehicle and your cleaning schedule will be shorter and much less labor intensive.
  6. No Smoking – That dreaded smoke smell! Anyone who has detailed a smoker’s car can attest, smoke smell can be extremely hard to remove and unless you are a smoker, this may not be a smell that most people are fond of. On top of the smell, cigarettes can leave a nasty film everywhere that can be challenging to remove. Let friends know it’s a non-smoking vehicle and keep that smell and residue far away from your vehicle.
  7. Pets – We all love our pets and to many, they are considered part of the family. With that said, as much as we may not like to admit it, they can be really dirty. Hair, slobber, etc. can find their way into your interior and not only add to the dirt and grime, but they can tend to leave behind a not so nice smell (Just think of that wet dog smell, yuck!). The good news is that this dirt, grime and smell can be removed with good products and techniques, but preemptive measures can avoid the effort of having to remove it all together.
  8. Street Lamps & Trees – Sometimes it’s tempting to want to park under the shade of a tree to keep the vehicle cooler on a hot summer day, or to park near a street lamp so you can easily see at night.  Often times there can be no issues, but parking here can create a huge unforeseen headache. The problem is birds like to sit in trees or on these posts, bugs are attracted to the lights, and trees can drop terrible sap. These bugs, tree sap, and bird bombs can actually etch into your paint and be a nightmare to remove. Some cases will even call for multiple polishing steps or body shop work to bring the paint back to life! The best thing to do is to avoid these areas all together when you park.
  9. Washing – General washing to remove contamination is the easiest way to keep your car looking clean. Letting any contamination build up for long periods of time can only make washing more difficult and increase your risk of adding swirls and scratches and other imperfections. Keeping a washing schedule will keep your car looking great (more on this below)!
  10. Cleaning Schedule – Take the time to give your car one complete detail and then follow a schedule. The complete detail will allow you to bring your car back to looking it’s absolute best and a schedule will cut down on your overall cleaning time. Think about it like this, clean your interior one week, the glass the next, and maybe breaking up the exterior into wheels, trim, paint, etc. Breaking your cleaning down into a schedule weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or whatever works the best for you will allow you to detail for 15 minutes here, an hour there, or whatever the time may be. This takes the sting out of waiting a few months and having to put aside an entire day to perform another complete detail. Stick to a schedule that fits you and your car will always be looking great and turning heads!

Anyone have any other tips for keeping your car clean? Leave them in the comments section below!

7 comments on Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Car Clean

  1. Bob says:

    These 10 tips should be given to all new car buyers as they are leaving the showroom.

    #3 Wash your hands. Often overlooked.

    My leather steering wheel on my 10 year old Sienna looks and feels like new. Same with shifter and door panels. I spent 30 mins detailing the steering wheel alone.

    All very logical and easy to follow tips. Now you need to write 10 advanced tips to keeping your vehicle perfect:)

  2. David G. says:

    And stay away from those dreaded so-called 100% brushless car washes.

  3. james melfi says:

    Awesome article Reece!

  4. Mark Wodzinski says:

    Take the test and become a Firefighter, for most of them there cars are always clean like mine. I also put a beach towel down when going and leaving work at collision shop. And shop @ Detail Image !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ron Ayotte says:

      As a retired firefighter and detailer, I can say that most firefghter’s vehicles are always clean… because they either detail them themselves or have them detailed. Most of my clientele are cops, firefighters and EMS personnel.

      There are exceptions.. every fire department has “the guy” or “the gal” that considers their vehicle to be washed when it rains and the interior looks like a hazmat incident in progress!

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