Everybody loves a clean, shiny car. But not everyone knows the proper way to go about ensuring their car retains that much adored “new car glow.” Some of us even take measures that are counterproductive and can cause long term damage, increasing the likelihood that we’ll have to get a new paint job prematurely. We know that you’d never do that willingly, of course not. But we’d bet that that many people do this without even realizing it. Here’s a list of five critical “must knows” about interior car cleaning. If you adhere to these and stay on a regular cleaning schedule, you might just be able to keep your car looking as new as the day it rolled off the assembly line.
1. Don’t use dishwashing detergent to wash your car. A lot of people think that mixing a bit of detergent into some cold water works just as well as slightly more costly carwash soap. This is a big time myth. First of all, think about it. What is dish detergent used for? Scouring hunks of food from plates, glasses and silverware, that’s what. It’s abrasive. Using the same stuff on your car is probably the worst thing you could do for its finish.
2. Shiny doesn’t necessarily mean clean. If you want a good way to tell if your car is actually clean (instead of only appearing to be clean) then just run your hand over it when you’re done washing it. If what you feel under your fingertips doesn’t feel like smooth glass, then you haven’t done a good enough job of removing the gunk. Back to square one.
3. When you’re done washing your car, dry it off with the right kind of cloth. A lot of people reach for the first thing they think will do the job, but you have to be careful. Rubbing your car dry with an old towel – even one that feels like it’s plenty soft enough – could scratch your car’s finish. The most strongly recommended type of cloth is microfiber. You can buy microfiber towels that provide with just the right kind of smooth to keep you from inadvertently peeling the paint off your car.
4. Wax on eventually waxes off. And sometimes, prematurely. While a wax job is intended to keep your car’s finish protected for up to a year, that’s only under ideal circumstances. The fact is, most of us don’t experience ideal weather 365 days out of the year. Because of this, it’s important to keep an eye on your car’s finish and touch up the wax job as you see fit. If you live in high dust areas or your car is constantly exposed to road salt in the winter, you might want to step up your waxing routine.
5. There’s a huge difference between washing and cleaning. You know this to be true. Who goes into the shower and rinses off without actually applying soap and emerges feeling clean? Your car is the same. If all you do is hose it off from time to time, it may look good for the time being. But make no mistake, the long term damage that could be happening to your finish by not pouring a little elbow grease into your efforts could make you a new paint job candidate in no time flat.