Getting professional car detailing can be a wonderful treat, but it also tends to be pretty pricey. The good news is that with a little elbow grease and a lot of tools you already have laying around the house, you can get that fresh and clean look and keep your hard-earned money for something else!
Here are 8 problem areas to include in your DIY car detailing process:
1. Air Vents
Although easy to overlook, your air vents collect a lot of dust particles. If you’re strapped for time, you may be able to get away with simply using the brush attachment and hose of your vacuum cleaner to quickly get rid of dust. For a deeper clean, an old paintbrush (plus your vacuum hose, to suck up dust as you stir it up) will get into all of the nooks and crannies and make for a much more polished appearance!
2. Underneath Floor Mats
Gravel, dirt, salt from slippery roads, etc. has a tendency to migrate underneath your floor mats, so it is best to remove the mats completely while cleaning. It is likely that your vacuum will work for a quick clean, but you may want to invest in or rent an actual carpet cleaning apparatus for a more professional-looking job, especially if you are trying to sell your car. Also, don’t forget to shake out the mats themselves and give them a thorough vacuum (and shampoo, if desired) as needed.
3. Underneath Sliding Seats
After unearthing the mysteries beneath your floor mats (yikes!), the area under your seats may as well be the next step. Any seats that slide forward will allow you to get your vacuum hose and shampooing apparatus underneath them, so you may as well take advantage of the easy access. You should also take this time to dislodge any debris, trash, or change (score!) that may have collected over time.
4. Dashboard and Center Console
Not only are you, the driver, more likely to notice a dirty dash and center console, but so will your driving buddy. (Although, if that buddy is furry with four legs, they may not mind so much!) Luckily, cleaning them can be as simple as a quick vacuum and then a wipedown with a mild dish detergent. Microfiber cloths are extremely efficient for a variety of cleaning needs, so a little warm water and soap will go a long way!
5. De-fuzz the Seats
If your driving passengers are not furry, but tend to get that way after riding in your car, you may want to consider a fur removal plan. Your vacuum can really only pick up so much hair and lots of it will stay behind in the fibers of your car seats. A handy trick for car upholstery (and the carpet in your house, as a matter of fact) is to lightly mist the fabric with a spray bottle, then use a squeegee to peel the layer of fur from the fabric. (You probably want to stay clear of this idea if you have fancy seats that don’t like water.)
6. Cup Holders
Let’s face it: cup holders are only partially used for cups. They are also magnets for spare change, old receipts, long-lost hair accessories, and general trash. Cleaning them out once in awhile will not only reunite you with your belongings, it will also give the illusion of tidiness (whether or not that is actually true). Your vacuum and a little all-purpose cleaner on your microfiber cloth is all you need to spruce them up!
7. Steering Wheel
There’s no doubt about it - steering wheels can get nasty. Think about it … Dirt, dust, skin oils, everything that wipes off of the gas pump and onto your hands, everything that wipes off of your money and onto your hands … all of that has been gathering and chilling out on your steering wheel. Yuck! For a plastic steering wheel, an all purpose cleaner and microfiber cloth should do the trick (just don’t leave the cleaner on the wheel longer than necessary to break down the grime). For leather steering wheels, it is best to use a cleaner specifically for leather and follow the directions on the bottle. Get that nastiness out of your life!
8. Windows and Windshield (Inside)
Finally, never underestimate the increased visibility you can achieve with a good shine from the other side of your glass! The insides of your windows and windshield may not invite as many bugs, but they can still get smudgy and leave your visibility less than ideal. A window cleaner and a microfiber cloth (one that is fresh and has not been used on any other part of the car) will clear up your glass in no time! Also, a quick tip: while you may have grown accustomed to the “wax on, wax off” way of cleaning your windows, swiping in one direction (like side to side) and then the other (up and down) will actually create less smears!
Now that your car looks fresh, have fun on your next adventure and drive safely out there!
We’ll be over here if you need us!