10 cleaning tips

Detailing the interior requires a variety of brushes
cleaning tips
Do you have everything you need to properly clean your car?

Tips for 10 of the most difficult detailing or cleaning issues.

Everybody who takes time to clean their vehicle on occasion has some favourite issues. If you’re a regular detail kind of person you know the answers to these problems. For the rest of you check out these tips:

BRAKE DUST – That nasty black stuff that coats your wheels is the residue created from the rotors wearing away the material on the brakes pads. This stuff can be corrosive and cause damage to the wheel if not removed as quickly and often as possible. You often see a gorgeous set of alloy wheels badly darkened or ruined because the brake dust was not removed with nay regularity. Be careful when using wheel cleaning products advertised for the removal to brake dust. Some of these are pretty caustic and may damage the finish of your wheel. Simple Green is very effective – wet the wheels first, spray on directly, wait a few minutes and rinse. Use a cloth or synthetic brush to remove the remainder. Finish with a regular wash mitt or sponge. Do not use the same brush, mitt or sponge on the remainder of the car as this corrosive material might be transferred.

simple green
A good all purpose cleaner

INSECTS – These little critters keep flying in front of you and becoming one with the front fascia, grill, windshield and leading edge of the hood and roof. Some of them can be pretty caustic and most have become quite attached by the time you get to them. The trick is to soften them up with a little soap or Simple Green, let sit and then remove with a gentle rubbing motion. Some agents and wiping cloths or sponges are advertised for this specific purpose, but beware they are pretty strong and will likely remove wax on your car as well.

glass cleaner
A really good glass cleaner

GLASS – It’s bad enough we’ve got industrial pollution and other stuff joining insects on our windshields, now we’ve got all these plastics inside the vehicle letting off vapors that deposit on the inside of the glass. You don’t drive your house through the air at 100 km/hr so don’t expect regular household glass cleaner to be very effective. Try a product like Invisible Glass formulated for this very purpose. Another proven cleaner is a couple of capfuls of white vinegar in a pale of water applied and removed with a page from your daily newspapers – yup black ink and all.

BIRD DROPPINGS – Be very careful. Some of these winged creatures are true scavengers who eat all kinds of stuff, including the sandy grit from shingled roofs. Needless to say, this does not digest very well and finds its way out the back door and unto your clean vehicle. DO NOT WIPE IT OFF as it will scratch your paint. Soften with something like Simple Green, soap or other cleaner and remove as much as possible with a powerful spray from the hose before gently wiping off the remainder

ROAD PAINT – In many parts of the country there are two seasons – winter and road repair. Highway maintenance involves re-painting road markings and some of this paint is frequently deposited on your vehicle. Removing it depends on how long it’s been there and how dry and hard it is. The sooner the better. Start with the mildest stuff possible – soap and water or Simple Green and move up through stronger detergents including bug & tar and adhesive removers. If it has fully hardened, you might have to scrape it off very carefully with a plastic blade available from your local hardware or auto supply outlet. Avoid rubbing compounds and any circular motions as they will damage your clear top coat. If all else fails, take it to a professional who might use lacquer thinner which has to be used very carefully. If your vehicle has been waxed that will provide a protective coating and make removal easier.

Detailing the interior requires a variety of brushes

VENTS – all those lovely vents that distribute air throughout the interior of your car or truck are dust magnets. To clean them, get a special brush for that purpose from an auto supply house or a synthetic one from an artist supply store. Keep it damp or wipe regularly with Pledge or one of these Swifter-type cloths so they will attract rather than just move the dust.

CAR WASHES – Avoid them if possible, especially any that utilize brushes that drag over the surface of your vehicle. No matter how well they are rinsed or how often they are changed or maintained, they pick up material from one vehicle and deposit it on yours. Don’t use dish detergent as it is too harsh and will remove any wax you thought you had on the paint. Buy soap formulated for washing cars and use according to the instructions. More water is never enough – rinse with plenty of water, rinse your cloth sponge etc often.

EXHAUST OUTLETS – That shiny chrome or stainless exhaust outlet will quickly become coated with the remnants of the combustion process. Sooner and often is the answer before it has a chance to accumulate. This stuff can eat at the finish so keep a separate cloth or sponge on hand for the purpose – like the one used to clean the wheels.

CARPETS AND MATS – if they can be removed, do so. Use plenty of water and mild detergent. For stubborn stains, use carpet cleaners and soak to soften the stain. Air out thoroughly to avoid depositing moisture inside the vehicle where it will find its way to the windshield.SMALL SCRATCHES – Most of today’s vehicles use a base coat, clear coat paint system designed to protect the color coat from industrial fallout and other stuff in the air. This top or clear coat provides an opportunity to remove minor scratches without getting into the actual color coat. Don’t simply grab a can of compound and start rubbing unless you want to get into some serious and costly repairs. This should be done with proper equipment by someone familiar with the method.

About Richard 166 Articles
At the age of five I was already obsessed with all things automotive being able to identify the make and model of car by just the sound of its engine going down the street in front of our house in the small town on the south shore of Nova Scotia. Although I have been covering and writing about the automotive scene for more than 40 years and the light still grows brightly.