Any search on how to clean your car will deliver up a mind blowing amount of possibilities. Most of the results delivered will be nothing more than trivial suggestions and recommendations by a person with little experience at best, and absolutely no experience at worst!
While most people consider cleaning a car a necessary evil, there remain a few wack-jobs like myself who actually find the process a cheap form of therapy.
Regardless of your opinion on cleaning your car, the truth is that it will be work. The more work you add to anything, the more excuses you will find not to do whatever it is that needs doing.
Even a hard core car enthusiast realizes the amount of work that can go into cleaning and detailing their car.
The most important thing you need to know regardless of whether we are talking about the interior or exterior of your car is this:
"How to clean your car will quickly render most people overwhelmed by the idea. Endless opinions, endless so-called experts will fill your head with nonsense. Just know that cleaning your car doesn't have to be as time consuming and overwhelming as you might think."
But it still requires a certain amount of work even for the laziest among us.
I am going to reduce basic car cleaning requirements down to the essentials. I am also going to teach you how to do it with less hassle and less products.
We need to separate your car into two distinct areas of concern and requirements:
Cleaning anything is work. The harder you make things the more excuses you will find to avoid doing what needs doing.
The products and techniques will be different based on which "half" of your car you want to clean. But regardless, we are going to keep this simple and basic so you can get more of what you really want:
A cleaner car with less effort and less work!
Chances are you are facing a healthy amount of what I call deferred maintenance. You have watched your car become progressively dirtier and dirtier day after day.
You know what you need to do, but the thought of learning how to do it, getting the right tools to do it, and getting the rights products to do it has likely rendered you overwhelmed from actually doing it.
The most important thing I want to stress is this:
"Regardless of how dirty your car is, breaking it down into small segments of effort will ease your mind and get you to your desired goal"
Let's dig in and see how simple and basic we can make cleaning your car. I am going to lay out the exact steps you will need to perform, and then go into detail on best ways to get maximum results with the least amount of effort:
While this likely seems obvious while reading this how to page, I have seen cars in my professional business so cluttered with trash and unnecessary "stuff" that it is hard to see past all this rubbish!
I have also seen people allow their cars to become so cluttered with crap they are completely overwhelmed at the thought of actually cleaning their car in ways that will make a significant difference.
removing basic trash and clutter form your car will be a massive accomplishment for many people. And if that is al your brain can handle at the beginning, then just do that!
Regardless of how "clean" you think your car is, most people are carrying around plenty of unnecessary "stuff" in their car that simply gets in the way of using car upholstery cleaner to actually do any real cleaning of their car.
Once you have removed all this clutter you will likely feel a sense of accomplishment, and begin to see where the real dirt has accumulated on your car upholstery.
Most people accept they will need a vacuum and will need to vacuum their car. What most people don't realize is just how important this step is, and how they can use this step to maximize the results before going in with some actual car upholstery shampoo or some all-purpose cleaner.
Darren's Tips: I find that using an upholstery brush (see below) to break loose the embedded dirt from all your floor mats and carpeting while you are pre-vacuuming will make shampooing easier and will produce better results.
Vacuuming up dry and lose dirt and debris is much easier while it is dry than trying to clean this once it has gotten wet from your car upholstery shampoo.
Choose whichever brush you seem safely using. Scrub all areas to be vacuumed paying special attention to heavily soiled areas. the more dirt you see, the more aggressive you need to scrub the area while it is dry while vacuuming up any dirt that is released during the scrubbing.
Do this to all areas of your car including the seems of your seating (regardless of material of your car seating surfaces)
Darren's Tips: I have been using this all-purpose cleaner for years. With so many uses, the versatility allows this to simplify your life by eliminating the endless dedicated products the industry wants you to buy.
From coated car leather to velour fabric, I use this to shampoo and clean my entire car. I start with a formulation of 10:1 (this means one part concentrate mixed with 10 equal parts water) for my basic cleaning and basic maintenance.
The various tools and products in how to clean your car in many ways do not need to be overthought. The industry uses slick marketing to separate you from as much as your money as possible.
While there are endless varieties of micro-fiber cloths, cleaning the interior of your car is not a moment you need to overthink this particular "tool".
For this reason I love the Kirkland brand micro-fibers below.
By this point you will have begun to form certain conclusions and strategies of how to clean your car. I want to continue to break this down further for you for a deeper understanding.
I will do this by breaking this down into two categories:
Hard Surface Materials:
(hard surface materials include: plastic, vinyl, leather, rubber, etc.)
If you are like most people, you will have a sudden burst of motivation
to get started. But before you go in "hot" and start to saturate every
surface on the inside of your car with your choice in an upholstery
cleaner, you need to apply some restraint.
I cannot stress
enough how important it is to remove as much debris, dirt, and dust
while it is still dry before you attack with any upholstery shampoo.
From basic dust to food crumbs, everything is easier to vacuum away
while it is still dry.
This also means you go into what I call "Crime Scene Investigator" mode and you begin to dissect every area of your car looking for ways to wipe, scrub, dust, or brush any loose debris so you can vacuum it up first, prior to any application of your cleaning solution.
What you also need to keep in mind is the "more is better" mentality. More is not better when it comes to how to clean your car. This means that you do not want to saturate any area of cleaning with excessive amounts of car upholstery cleaner.
Light, repeat applications are always best in how to clean your car. I have shampooed areas of some of my customers cars 3-5 times before I am able to achieve desired results. Simply spraying more car upholstery cleaner is not going to provide magical results in removing years of accumulated dirt.
(Porous materials include: carpeting, cloth, velour, synthetic fabric, etc.)
Darren's Tips: If you are part of the "more is better" thinking you need to pull back and rethink. For most beginners, how to clean your car means excessive amounts of upholstery shampoo. Beginners tend to think that if they saturate the area with loads of shampoo, this will produce better results.
The reality is that light, repeat applications are always better than over-saturation. Over-saturating the area with upholstery cleaner is not going to magically clean away years of accumulated dirt. If you have a mildly dirty car, then your job is simply going to be easier.
Regardless of how much dirt you are attempting to clean, you will want to go in with light applications of cleaner and repeat as necessary.
Ready to use car upholstery cleaners are just that: ready to use.
No mixing or blending using a concentrate into a separate sprayer. Ready-to-use cleaners are ideal for anyone looking to keep their life super simple and doesn't require large amounts of cleaner.
I have listed two great examples of these cleaners that can be used on any surface that any other dedicated cleaner could be used.
Darren's Tips: Everything in life has trade-off's. If you like the true lazy persons approach on how to clean your car, then a ready-to-use cleaner is the ticket for you.
Most beginners underestimate how dirty their car actually si when it comes time to using a cleaner. While ready-to-use cleaners are super convenient, you will likely go through more than you anticipate.
Cleaning the exterior of your car is actually much easier than cleaning your cars interior. Admittedly, an unnecessary amount of hype has gone into the endless ways in which to wash a car or clean a car.
Likely this has most of you in panic mode already. But cleaning your cars exterior is not brain surgery (despite what you have been told) and you can follow the countless so-called experts until your head explodes trying to figure out the proper way to wash and clean your car.
Darren's Tips: Regular and consistent washing of your car is a massive part of the battle in keeping the beauty and health of your car.
The above car washing kit, along with the dedicated car drying cloth is your ticket to a self-contained kit to handle your car washing needs.
Once you have mastered how to clean your car with a method of washing, then you can use the following links to deepen your understanding of additional requirements of your car if you want to continue to raise your car to new levels of shine and protection:
If you have made it this far into this page you deserve a badge of honor! You are a among a select group of people called the informed.
Not too many people are willing to take the time to dig into any given subject to learn not only what it takes to perform a task, but learn ways to do it better, smarter, and faster.
I hope I have helped and I wish you much success in your cafr detailing efforts!