The COVID-19 crisis has left plenty of people stuck at home and trying to figure out how to do things they normally leave to professionals. Perhaps you've become a master of the culinary arts and you're churning out bread like a bakery. Maybe you've become adept at cutting your spouse's hair, or even your own. If you're a parent, you've also taken on the role of teacher, complete with relearning basic math, science, and grammar rules.
Although you may be using your car a lot less these days, that doesn't mean you want to let it sit and gather dust. To maintain maximum value, you need to continue with proper care. This means doing more than hosing off the exterior once a week.
If you're used to having your car regularly washed and detailed by professionals, your best bet to keep it in ship shape is to take on detailing duties yourself. Here are a few tips to dip your toes in the waters of DIY auto detailing to keep your car looking like brand new.
Tools of the Trade
Before you get started, you'll want to make sure you have needed tools, including soft shammies, suitable cleansers, and more. Can you use dish soap and rags? Sure, but they aren't ideal, and you could end up with microscopic scratches that damage your clear coat and a filmy residue that diminishes shine.
For the exterior of the car, get yourself a bucket, a mitt for washing (lamb's wool is ideal), and solvents like a car wash soap (Meguiar's is a good bet), wax, glass cleaner, and wheel and tire cleaner. For the interior surfaces, you'll need a vacuum with a hose attachment, microfiber cloths, leather or upholstery cleaner (depending on interior surfaces), carpet cleaner, and small tools like a toothbrush and cotton swabs, to get in every nook and cranny. A can of compressed air can also help to remove dust in hard-to-reach areas.
It's up to you whether you want to start with the interior or exterior of the car, but we'll begin with the exterior here. Do not wash your car in the sun if you can help it, as the exterior will get hot and the soap could dry on surfaces while you wash.
Start by spraying the car to loosen and remove dirt and grime, then use your mitt to scrub the car with a mixture of warm water and sudsy cleanser, starting with the cleanest areas (so as not to push filth around). Rinse from the top down with clean water until all suds are gone.
Dry quickly to avoid streaks and spotting, then use the wheel and tire cleaner to finish the exterior, following instructions to achieve a high shine. Finally, clean the glass, outside and in. Use ammonia only on glass, as it may cause other surfaces to dry out or fade.
Start by removing clutter, along with floor mats and cup holders, if possible. Thoroughly vacuum, moving seats if necessary. Use small cleaning tools to clean the console (gauges, vents, etc.), cupholders, change holders, and other small spaces. Next, address any stains on carpet, upholstery, or leather and condition leather if needed. You may need a steam cleaner for excessive soiling or stubborn stains.
When you use the right cleansers and cleaning tools and take the time to fully clean your car, inside and out, you'll protect the appearance and value of your vehicle until you can have it professionally detailed.