A list of springtime cleaning tips to get your ride big-time shiny, with minimal time and money
It’s springtime, and that means you’ve got stuff to do. Things to plant. A lawn to bring back to life. Projects to tackle ahead of a season of summer relaxation. Providing your trusty family ride with some well-deserved TLC and a good shine-up after a long and hard winter is important too, and you know it.
Thing is, you’re busy. And you don’t want to spend a lot of money. Or time.
If that’s the case, here’s a list of a few of your writer’s favorite car cleaning hacks—which allow you to get your ride’s shine on quickly, inexpensively, and often
without even busting out the garden hose.
I use many of these on my own ride before the Sunday afternoon car show, for a quick clean that doesn’t cut into my relaxation time.
Freshly-Waxed Shine, sans Hose: Provided you’ve washed your family Camry in the recent past and it’s only slightly dirty, a waterless wax or detailer spray is a fantastic way to achieve a freshly washed and waxed look in about 5 minutes.
Grab a bottle of waterless detailer from your local store f
or 10 bucks or less. Shake the bottle, spray onto one panel at a time, and buff with a clean rag or towel until it’s shiny. Repeat for all panels.
As you buff, light dirt sticks to your towel, and wax droplets suspended in the liquid stick to your paint. If the surface appears smeared and smudgy as you buff, just switch to a clean part of the rag and keep going. Provided your paint is relatively clean to start, few products give you such quick and easy access to a freshly-detailed look.
One bottle of spray detailer should last the entire spring and summer if used weekly on a small car. You can spray-detail a whole car in about 5 minutes, and it’ll even pass the towel-toss test across the hood, making your pals think you’ve been waxing all day. You’ll save money on water and car-wash soap, too.
Shine your Wheels Fast, and Almost for Free:
Wheels, when shined to a lustrous gloss, can make an enormous visual impact on your ride. Spray some WD-40 onto a wad of paper towel (or an old rag), and use it to wipe the dirt, grime and brake-dust from your rims. Never spray WD-40 directly on your wheels, as it could get onto your brakes, and brakes don’t like that. This wonder-liquid melts through even heavy and caked on grime, and when your rag or paper towel gets dirty, fold it over, spray a little more, and repeat.
Once the wheel is free of dirt and dust, you’ll be left with a slick and smudgy haze. Take a clean paper towel and buff that off. Your alloys will shine and glimmer, and the WD-40 leaves a protective film behind that repels dirt and brake dust, making future cleaning easier, which saves you time and basically makes you a genius.
So, you could spend 7 or 8 dollars for a bottle of alloy-wheel cleaner, and another 7 or 8 dollars for a bottle of wheel polish and protector and a specialty brush, but you could also use a 2-dollar bottle of WD-40 and some paper towels.
Dish Soap for the Interior: You should never use dish-soap on your ride’s paint, though it can make a fantastic cleaning solution for the inside of your ride, and especially, the glass.
You’re going to want a powerful dish soap, but only a teensy little bit. I use 3 or 4 drops in about 2 litres of hot water. Put the soap in towards the end of filling up your wash pail, as you don’t want tons of suds.
Start with your windows. My car had a mysterious greasy haze all over its windsheild (likely caused by overspray from dash protector), and none of the pricey automotive glass cleaners I tried could do anything other than smear it around. A highly diluted solution of dish soap and hot water on a clean rag removed it with one wipe. It’s also super-effective on dried-on dog drool.
Dunk the rag, wring it out, and get wiping away at the glass. You’ll want to use a dry, clean rag or paper towel to remove any leftover moisture and ‘buff’ the glass after that. Then, sit back and enjoy how crystal-clear your windows are.
You can use the same warm, wet and slightly-soapy rag to quickly soak up coffee spills around your cupholder, kick-marks on your door panels, and dust and grime from your dashboard with ease. Forget using various products and going through a whack of rags. One rag, some hot water and a few drops of powerful soap works wonders. Plus, since the solution is so diluted, a single bottle amounts to a lifetime supply, for about 3 bucks.