Caring for your car: how to keep it clean

Car maintenance tips

Pollution, dust, dead insects and worse – many and varied are the routine attacks on your car’s bodywork. But this doesn't just look unsightly - over time, environmental contamination can damage the paintwork (bird droppings, the bane of every proud car owner's life, are actually really corrosive). So how do you prevent long term damage and get your car clean again in the face of these constant assaults? Here are our car care tips.

Shun the sun

We know, we know – any self-respecting car owner sprints outside at the first sign of sunshine and makes the most of the nice weather to clean their car. But it's actually better to clean your car on a cloudy day – the heat on a sunny day will dry it out more quickly, which may mean it doesn't get cleaned as effectively and may also leave water marks on the bodywork. Or stick with a sunny day but see if you can clean it in the shade, or in the early morning or late afternoon.

Don't use washing up liquid

If you are reluctant to fork out for a fancy car soap, don’t turn instead to regular household products. Washing up liquid is too harsh for your car's paintwork and can damage it. Do this instead:

Apply snow foam or traffic film remover, which will cover your car in soapy suds and loosen the grime. Leave it to work for a few minutes, then get out the hose and rinse it all off. Then wash your car by hand using car shampoo, warm water and a sponge. Dry it with a slightly damp chamois leather, apply wax, and buff it with a soft cloth.

In contrast, you don't need a special car window cleaner for the windows – a domestic window cleaner will be fine. Don't forget your rear view and wing mirrors. And wipe your windscreen wipers with a cloth soaked in rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, so they don't leave streaks on the window.

Wheely good fun

You can use snow foam on the wheels and tyres at the same time as you're cleaning the bodywork, but if they're really dirty, you might need a proper alloy wheel cleaner. Some change colour to show exactly where the dirt is coming off, which is handy if you want to give your wheels a really good clean. Rinse with the hose or pressure washer, then wax.

Beauty is on the inside

For some reason, many of us are happy to let the inside of our cars get into a state that we’d never replicate in our homes. Give the footwells, seats and all the nooks and crannies a good vacuum – slide and fold the seats to get at all the dirt underneath them. Clean the upholstery with the appropriate cleaner (leather, fabric etc), and give the hard surfaces a wipe over with a damp cloth.

Bottoms up

The underside of your car gets a huge amount of exposure to grit and salt from the road, which can be very damaging. You don't have to get gritty and salty yourself, though, to get it off – you can get special hose attachments to clean under the car. Consider then applying an underseal to protect it from future damage.

At Carwise Group, we've got a huge range of very clean used cars for sale, of myriad makes and models. If you'd like to test drive one of them, have a look at our stock online, then call us your local Carwise dealership – you'll find us in Maidstone and Harlow.