- car maintenance
Top 10 cleaning items for your car
Updated 15 Apr 2021
If you’re anything like me, cleaning your car often feels like a chore that takes up precious time on your weekend when that time could be better spent enjoying time with friends or family.
Scrubbing off stubborn brake dust and bug guts can take forever, however, taking the time to thoroughly clean your car’s paintwork and interior is well worth it when you see the end result.
Plus, it can make your car feel brand new again!
Here are our Top 10 cleaning items for your car, and how to get the best result with minimal effort:
1. Bucket and Sponge
We’re starting with the basics here! A good quality and decent sized bucket will allow you to have a continuous supply of soapy water to clean even the largest of vehicles.
The hot tip is to prepare two buckets – one with your soapy solution and the other with fresh, clean water. With this setup, you can rinse your sponge in the clean water to remove any dirt and debris before loading it back up with suds.
Buying the best quality sponge or wash mitt will reduce scratches to your paintwork. Many companies offer high-quality wash pads made from lamb’s wool which protect the fragile surface of the paintwork whilst still cleaning thoroughly.
It’s best to have two pads or sponges – one for the top half of the car, and another for the bottom, more dirty part. Doing this will reduce the risk of dragging dirt and particles from the bottom of the vehicle and scratching the paintwork.
2. Grit Guard
This little device sits in the bottom of your buckets, and stops the dirt and grit from swirling around and getting caught up in your wash pad or sponge.
Simply rub the sponge or pad on the grit guard after running it over the car to remove and trap the dirt and grime, leaving you with a clean pad to continue washing.
3. Car Wash Liquid
There’s a huge variety of car washing liquids on the market today, so how do you know which one to choose??
Always look for a liquid that is as close to pH neutral as possible.
This will eliminate hard water spots that can be left on your paintwork as a result of minerals in the mains water.
Choose a liquid that bubbles up, to help remove the grit and grime on your paintwork.
Some products offer car wash and wax in one bottle. While this may be good to save some time, it won’t provide as much protection or shine as a separate polish and wax.
4. Wheel Cleaner and Wheel Brush
The wheels on your car are subject to brake dust as well as road grime and tar and can be difficult to keep clean.
Remove this stubborn grit and grime by using a proper cleaner designed just for your wheels. It’s even more effective when combined with a wheel brush.
Simply spray the cleaner on to the surface of your wheels, attack the brake dust and grime with the brush and rinse to bring your wheels back to showroom condition!
Always make sure to test the cleaner on a small part of your wheel first, to ensure it will not damage the wheel finish – as some cleaners do contain a small amount of acid.
5. Chamois and Microfibre towels
Once you’ve washed and rinsed off your vehicle, it’s drying time!
In the past, a Chamois was the main item used to dry car paintwork, but over the last few years microfibre drying cloths have surpassed the Chamois, as they are easier to use and provide a better finish with less scratching.
Buy a good quality microfibre with a high GSM count, as cheaper towels can leave scratches and marks on your paintwork.
6. Detail Spray
Another technology that has come a long way in the last few years is the detail spray.
A detail spray will give your car a quick clean to tide you over between washes, or can be used in the drying process to provide a high level of shine and remove unwanted water marks and spots that may have been missed during washing.
Simply spray onto the paintwork, trims or glass and wipe over with a high-quality microfibre cloth to bring out the shine!
7. Polish and Wax
These products help to protect your pride and joy from the elements.
Usually recommended once every 6 months, polishing your paintwork and protecting it with a wax provides an additional barrier from the harshness of the environment.
Polishing the paintwork can remove small scratches and swirl marks caused by dirt and debris, and waxing or sealing the paintwork provides a sacrificial layer of protection on top of the paintwork.
Polish and Wax products will ensure that your paintwork retains its glossy finish for years to come.
8. Tyre Shine
Another staple of the home detailer’s kit is tyre shine. This product provides protection from the elements as well as making your tyres look brand new.
Be sure to wipe away any excess product, as driving without doing so will spray small black dots up your freshly washed car.
9. Window Cleaner
Moving from the outside to the inside of the vehicle, cleaning the windscreen and other windows on your car will allow you to see clearly when driving. If your windows are tinted, do not use a cleaner with ammonia or alcohol in it, as this may damage the tint.
Spray the inside and outside of the windows with cleaner and simply wipe off with a fresh microfibre towel for a streak-free finish.
10. Interior Wipes and Cleaners
The interior is where you spend the most time in your vehicle, so it’s the inside that suffers the most wear and tear.
It makes sense to clean and protect these surfaces to make sure they stay in good condition.
Clean interior fabrics with a clean, damp cloth and vacuum carpet and mats fairly regularly.
Keeping your leather in showroom condition is as easy as cleaning and applying some leather conditioner at regular intervals during the year.
Following these simple steps will help keep your car in the best condition possible and ensure that you enjoy all the time spent behind the wheel.
As well as cleaning your vehicle, maintenance is crucial for your car’s safe operating condition.
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Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.
After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.