Keeping the car clean

As an average person I personally refuse to fork out for the price of a professional car valet on a regular basis, so I have devised a master plan… clean the car myself. Whilst it doesn’t take a genius to decide to wash your own car, not enough of us actually do this.

To help us along, I have created a quick guide on how to valet your car at home. Prepare to get stuck in; this is going to be fun… well, for me thinking about you struggling anyway.

You will need the following list of equipment to be successful on your mission:
•bucket (not the sandcastle variety) and sponge
•vacuum cleaner with variable heads
•polishing cloths and car polish
•dashboard spray
•old toothbrush
•cotton buds
•multipurpose cleaner
•glass cleaner
•leather shammy
•grit and determination

My personal preference is to clean the exterior of my car first. This is for two reasons: I like to save the best until last; if I get tired halfway through, to everybody else, I have a clean car.

For this task you are to become ‘Danielson’ and me, Mister Miyagi. First ‘we make sacred pact. I promise teach car valeting to you, you promise learn. I say. You do. No questions.’ Well maybe he didn’t say car valeting, but you get the gist. Let’s break down Mr Miyagi’s mantra.

‘First, wash all car’ – you need to do the basics first and in this case it means fill your bucket, grab the sponge and wash every last bit of dirt from your car. I suggest cleaning the car in sections where the natural gaps are in the body of the car. This way you will not miss anything. And don’t forget the WHEELS.

‘Then wax. Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off’ – apply the polish to your car or even T-cut depending on the condition of your paintwork. Simply use some good old-fashioned elbow grease to buff it off with a shammy leather. You can also use this technique, minus the polish, to clean your exterior glass as well.

By now you are probably feeling a little tired after cleaning the exterior of your car. Your mission now, should you choose to accept it, is to clean the interior of your car (the really tedious part).

You should ensure that your car has been emptied of rubbish throughout. That includes the cigarette ends, empty McDonald’s cartons, sweet wrappers and the baby’s nappies.

After removing the car mats and suitably armed with your vacuum cleaner (with the correct nozzle) you can begin. Vacuum the foot wells, the car boot and the glove box. Be sure not to miss the hard to reach areas between the doors and underneath the seats. Should you find any cash, our postal address is… just kidding. You should also vacuum all of the seats and the gaps between. Should you want to go one step further, why not hire a wet/dry vacuum – beware, this comes with a warning! If you decide to use the car in the following days after using an upholstery cleaner, be prepared to have a wet bottom. The next step is to clean your mats. This will take persistence as there will be lots of little bits keen to stick around, but they will eventually come off. You are now ready to return the mats back to their comfy foot wells.

You may think that the hard work is done, but the tedious bit is yet to come. Time to focus on your handles and door panels and the dirt that has been engrained over time. Using your toothbrush, multipurpose cleaner and cloth, systematically spray, scrub and wipe these surfaces until clean.

Use the same cloth and cleaner to remove the dirt from all of your other plastic surfaces, most importantly, the dashboard. If by now the tediousness has not already set in, it’s about to. Release the cotton buds! It is time to clean the grime from their favourite nooks and crannies. To specify, we are talking about the gaps in the seats where a vacuum cannot reach. There’s also the ashtray, knobs, vents, slides, buttons, cup holders and anything else we may have missed.

Similar to Mr Miyagi’s theory of washing and waxing the exterior of your car, you should then apply the spray to your clean plastic interior. I would suggest that you avoid spraying the steering wheel, unless you enjoy steering your car with the equivalent of a slippery wet fish. Once the dust has settled, use your polishing cloth to remove as much of the oily spray as possible and reveal the like-new surfaces.

Also, be sure not to spray your windows and whilst we’re on the subject of windows, using your window cleaner, grab another clean cloth and give your inside windows a shine.