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              One of the most important, and often over-looked, things that help upkeep our car is detailing and cleaning it up on a regular basis. Often times you can spend hundreds of dollars hiring someone to do this tedious task. Doing it yourself is pretty straight forward and can also save you hundreds in the long run with just a little elbow grease. Most people have everything they need to detail a car at home or most retail stores carry items that can help you for a relatively low cost. Not only is it good to keep your car clean from allergens, dust, and germs for your health, it can significantly increase the resale value of your car by thousands if the interior is kept up.

                With a handful of items that are usually around your house already or can easily be purchased, here are our best tips for cleaning and detailing a car yourself!

  1. Vacuuming- if you have a vacuum with an extension hose, you’re good to go. Otherwise, many gas stations and car washes have vacuum attachments that often cost around a dollar to help you clean your car out. Starting with cleaning off your seats, make sure you remove all of the coins, wrappers, paper, and other assorted objects that can jam up a vacuum cleaner. We recommend you vacuum your flooring after you seats incase more dust and crums are kicked up. If you have a steam cleaning machine, this also helps out with cleaning out your carpet after vacuuming. Cleaning foam is also helpful with grease and stains and often runs under 10 dollars a bottle. Make sure your carpet is completely dry after you’re done because mildew and mold love to grow in damp areas. Once all of your mats are shook off, take a garden hose with a powerful jet to clean the grime out. Remember: if you wash mats with a detergent, make sure it won’t leave your mats slippery and unsafe.

  2. Seats- Slide your seats forward to get as much vacuuming done as you can. All cars have three different types of seats; leather, vinyl, and cloth.
    -For cleaning leather seats, keeping it looking clean and new is key. Dirt and grime can get embedded in the surface so a good leather cleaning product is perfect and can take care of it easily. Most leather cleaning products can be sprayed or applied to a seat and worked into the material with a soft towel. Make sure you are constantly flipping the towel so that you are always using the clean side; many find it easier to use multiple towels because you don’t want to rub more grime into the seats. Once the seats are cleaned with the leather cleaning product, dry the seats with a microfiber cloth.
    -Cleaning vinyl seats are a lot easier than leather. Go through product labels to make sure you have a cleaning compatible with vinyl. Spray the cleaner and wipe with a clean towel or rag. After about an hour, your car should be ready to drive with your clean leather seats.
    -Cloth seats can also be tricky because they are much easier to stain. A multipurpose cleaner can work well; but for stubborn stains, a specialized stain remover is best. Remember: the more liquids you use to clean off your seats, the more damp they can become, resulting in mold and mildew and leaving your car smelling musty. It is also important to note that you may want to use an odor eliminator product if your car isn’t left smelling fresh. A nice trick that almost everyone has laying around their house for odor and stain removal is baking soda! Let it sit for a couple of hours and your car should be left smelling cleaner and fresher. The longer you let baking soda sit, the longer it has to absorb stains and odors. Another helpful item can be Frebreeze, which kills odors instead of masking them. Dryer sheets under your seat can also give the fresh smell longevity.

  3. Windows and mirrors can be cleaned with regular glass cleaner and a cloth; often spraying the cleaner on the cloth is better vs spraying what you want to clean and then using the cloth. This helps reduce streaking. Make sure you are cleaning glass and not plastic! Old newspapers also work incredibly well when it comes to cleaning windows; leaving no lint or residue. Gauge covers are often plastic, not glass, so the products meant to clean glass are not meant to clean plastic; often leaving them crack. If your windows are tinted, beware: tinting can be part of the window or it can be a sheet and cleaning products can damage your window tinting. Remember cleaning the top edges of your windows as well; many people forget about this.

  4. Dashboards can be made of leather, vinyl, or often times other materials. Angels can often create hard to reach spaces to clean, so vacuuming all the dust before you apply a cleaning product is your best route to go.

  5. Your counsel can be one of the other most difficult places to reach when detailing a car. The best way to clean all these difficult crevasses can be to wrap a thin cloth around a screwdriver or a plastic knife to clean out these areas. Q-tips can also work well, but often you have to go through a lot of them to clean out the interior. Using a little bit of cleaning products goes a long way in regard to cleaning out these nooks and crannies.

  6. Your air vents can also be difficult to clean out because of the shape and all of the many parts that they entail. Often times a long bristle brush or a can of compressed air can be helpful. If you’re going the compressed air route, make sure this is the first step you do when detailing because dust will end up back on your seats and floors.

  7. Door panels…so many of them have cup holders, open compartments, or crevasses for a multitude of things. Vacuuming these out first is the most helpful route before you use a chemical product to wash them out.

  8. Odors can be so many different things in cars: kids leaving food you don’t find for a week, animals, smoke…you name it. There are a lot of great odor removal products on the market that are often inexpensive, but sometimes they just mask odors instead of eliminating them. One of the best and least expensive odor removal products is baking soda. If you prefer scents, make sure they are an odor eliminating product that will get rid of odors instead of covering them up.

  9. Cleaning the outside of your car by hand is the best way to clean your car because often times, car washes can leave little scratches that can become obvious with time. Handwashing or liquid dish soap is not car friendly on the finish, so make sure you use a cleaner specifically for vehicles. Fill up two different bucks: one just plain water and one with cleaner. Rinse your sponge often in your clean water bucket, which can be emptied and refilled multiple times. Also, rinse your car washing mitt or sponge often to avoid scratches from dirt.

  10. Many times, waxing or polishing your car will help it shine bright and will remove imperfections and scratching from your car’s surface. It also adds a glossy look and protects your car from the different elements like rain and wind that kicks up dirt and rocks. Apply a good-sized amount of polish to your polishing pad (often comes with your wax kit) and wipe across a small area: usually 2x2 is sufficient. Run this at a slower rate to spread it evenly. Many people find car polishers helpful and they are relatively inexpensive.

  11. State Park stickers are helpful during the year that they are good, but what do you do with them afterward? Not only can they be a visual difficulty, they can accumulate and become more difficult to remove. A degreaser will help with the removal of the goo and it can be scraped off and wiped down.

  12. You a truck owner dealing with rust on your trailer hitch? If the receiver is rusty, steel wool the rust and shoot it with a black spray paint to restore it into looking brand new!

These tricks and tips will often help keeping your car in tip top shape. It is recommended that you detail your car every 8-10 months to keep it in the best condition. A car that has been well maintained on the inside and outside will have a higher resale value when the time comes for your trade in!

If you’re in the market for a nice used car, we can help you. We have multipoint inspection on our used cars and if they don’t meet our high standards, we don’t sell them. It’s that simple! If there’s something in particular you’re looking for and we don’t have it, we can find it! With over 700 cars in our dealer network, we can find exactly what you’re looking for. Come check out our inventory today because Good Things Happen When Schmit Happens!

Categories: Pre-Owned Inventory
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