A Guide to Cleaning and Waxing Your Car

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Cleaning your car offers the ultimate reward for motorists: a gleaming vehicle that turns heads when you drive around or park up. Just giving your car a good shampoo is all well and good, but the best way to ensure a truly sparkling vehicle is combining this with a beautiful polish and wax. And of course, you will not want to ignore your car’s interior as no one wants to be driven around surrounded by an unkempt mess. There are all kinds of products and tricks one can use in this regard, so as a helping hand, here’s our look at how you can best achieve the results you desire.

cleaning dashboard

Clean Your Car’s Interior

While you might be tempted to jump straight to shining up your car’s exterior, it is the interior where you should begin.

Start off by getting rid of any rubbish that is lying around the inside of your vehicle; drinks containers, sweet wrappers, food, and whatever else you have accumulated over the weeks. Once that has been thrown out, and no longer in your way, take your car mats and give them a good clean. Do this by applying soapy water or a car shampoo – more on this later – and scrub the mats with a stiff brush until clean, then just hang them out to dry. Car mats are designed to get dirty but it’s always a good idea to spruce them up a little from time to time.

Next up, you will want to give the inside of your windscreen and windows a nice clean using a dedicated windscreen/window cleaner. Products such as Autoglym’s Ultimate Screen Wash — available on car caring website The Ultimate Finish — would be ideal here. Always follow your chosen products instructions but generally start by spraying the glass cleaner onto a microfiber cloth and wipe up and down, and then side to side to leave as few streaks as possible.

Once your windscreen and windows are gleaming on the inside, wipe down your dashboard and steering wheel before finishing up by giving the car a thorough vacuum. To get this job done right, you will want to grab yourself a cordless vacuum, allowing you to clean all those hard to reach places.

Gemma Tyler of Smart Vacuums – a one stop shop for all things vacuum cleaning – spoke to us about just what to look out for in order to give your car the best clean possible.

“When it comes to vacuuming your car interior my advice is to get something lightweight and cordless, ideally with a few accessories to get to those hard to reach crevices. You don’t want to be setting up extension leads and lumping clumsy corded vacuum cleaners outside every time you need to clean the car; this is a sure-fire way to keep putting that car cleaning on hold.

One model I would recommend is the Gtech Multi-Mk2, priced around £150 which is not overly cheap, but is impressive and ticks all the boxes for keeping the interior pristine.”

washing your car

Washing

Now that your car is looking up to scratch on the inside, we can turn our attention to the car’s exterior.

The first step is to wash your vehicle and remove all surface dirt, as if you don’t have a completely clean vehicle, the polish applied later will not fully bed into the panels and the result will be below standard.

We spoke to Trevor Catt of the Ford Owners Club who says to, “Ensure that the bodywork is thoroughly rinsed off with a hose or jet wash, starting at the top and working your way down being careful to ensure that no contact is made with the paintwork at this stage. Once rinsed, then shampoo can be lightly applied with a sponge over the bodywork, again starting from the top and working downwards. Ensure the sponge is rinsed out thoroughly at all times to ensure that no dirt or grit is transferred to the paintwork. Allow to air dry if polishing once dry, alternatively wipe over with a Chamois Leather.”

When washing your vehicle, if you want the full works, perhaps try a car shampoo, such as the Auto Finesse Lather 500ml, which is tangerine scented and swirl free. And once the car has been covered, give it another hose down removing all signs of soap.

Auto Finesse also provide a powerful non-acidic wheel cleaner, use this in conjunction with a brush to remove any build-up of dirt that may have occurred on your wheels. Once done, rinse off again with the hose.

polish car

Polishing

Now we get to the task of polishing. First things first, you should always polish your vehicle before waxing it. As wax is a very hardy material, it will reduce in effectiveness if you try to polish over the top of it.

Very different to car wax, car polish is an abrasive product which helps to remove very fine layers from the top surface of your vehicle’s panels. This flattens out the surface so that an equal reflection of light is offered – thus ensuring the highly polished finish.

Modern polishes contain diminishing abrasives, which break down into smaller particles as the solution is polished in. It means that there’s no need to use several different abrasive polishes to create the perfect finish.

Once your car is completely dry, the first step is to pour some car polish onto a foam pad or microfiber cloth and work onto the panels. You will need to do this one step at a time to make sure there’s a truly even finish.

After you’ve worked the polish across the whole of your car’s exterior, return to where you started and rub the polished area vigorously with a dry chamois cloth to remove the extra residue. Once this is done, you’re ready to start waxing.

As with all car cleaning products, there are a variety of top polishes available, such as the Meguiars Step 2 Polish, available at Euro Car Parts.

waxing your car

Waxing

While polish will offer a gleaming finish, it won’t protect the paintwork like car wax will. Because wax is not only almost insoluble in water, but also has a melting point of between 82-86°, it’s the perfect product to use if you want to protect all the hard work you’ve done by cleaning. Not only does it retain the streak-free finish of your vehicle for longer, the durability of wax means that it also acts as a filler by temporarily smoothing out any imperfections found on the paintwork.

If applied correctly and regularly, car wax, like this one from Auto Finesse, will help protect the paintwork of your new car for months on end.

After choosing the appropriate wax, take an applicator pad and apply an amount no larger than a ten pence piece; this should cover an area around 60cm high and 60cm wide. If you’re unsure of how much to use, it’s worth taking a look at the instructions on the bottle. It’s always better to apply too little wax than too much. In the case of the latter, too much wax can be difficult to remove and often leaves an uneven layer.

If the wax you’ve purchased doesn’t come with an applicator pad, using a damp sponge is a great alternative.

Step two is to work the wax into the metal through gentle circular motions which overlap. This method guarantees an even and streak-free finish. Divide your car into sections and reapply the wax as necessary. If you have an orbital polisher available it will save you time and use up a lot less elbow grease in the process.

Now you will need to wait for the wax to dry, and ideally, you’ll want this to be for as long as the manufacturer recommends. A good way to tell if it’s ready is with the finger test. Make a swipe in the wax with your finger and if it’s clear you’re ready to go ahead. If the wax smears, then you need to wait a little longer.

Once it is dry, use a microfiber cloth to remove the excess wax to leave a completely streak-free finish.

Original Article courtesy of Foray Motor Group   Cleaning your Car