Spring Cleaning: After-Winter Car Wash Tips

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Cars go through a lot during the winter, especially if you live in a colder climate. Snow, ice, gravel and of course the dreaded road salt build-up, causing dirt and grime to ravage your vehicle. While proper car cleaning is important year-round, it is especially vital when it comes to rescuing your vehicle from the ails of winter. Here are a few tips for completing Spring cleaning on your vehicle:
 
Start on the inside:
Carpet floor mats are magnets for dry salt stains through the winter. First, remove floor mats and beat them or scrub with a brush to remove the loose, top layer of salt. Vacuum as much as possible, then, mix 1 part warm water with 1 part white vinegar. Put the solution into a spray bottle, and spray onto the salt stains. After 2-3 minutes, scrub the mat and use a towel to blot the mat and pickup the dissolved salts. Vacuum the mats with a wet-vac to remove any leftover salt and vinegar. Finally, scrub the mats with a regular carpet cleaner to get rid of any lingering vinegar smell. Leave the mats to dry overnight. Don’t forget to scrub your gas, brake and dead pedal to remove extra salt.
 
Use three buckets: 
To minimize cross contamination, use separate buckets for wheels, clean soapy water, and rinse water. Place a grit guard in the bottom of each bucket to separate grit from your wash mitt or brushes. This separation helps prevent swirls in your paint caused by dirty mitts.
 
Pre-wash: 
Spray the vehicle with a hose/pressure washer to remove any loose dirt, dust and bugs. If you have a foam gun, spray the vehicle with a foam cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes. Remember to never wash your vehicle in direct sunlight. Rinse all foam off the vehicle.
 
Clean the tires first: 
The wheels are the dirtiest part of your car. Start by using a hose to rinse off any loose dust and dirt. Then, apply a wheel cleaner or degreaser and scrub with a tire brush. To remove brake dust from your wheels, spray on iron remover and let it sit for a few minutes. Mix your choice of soap with water and clean inside the rim using a wheel woolie or EZ brush. With the same soap and water mix, use a wheel/lug-nut brush to agitate dirt on the front of the rim, and finish off with a microfiber wash mitt. Clean the wheel wells with a dedicated fender well brush or a microfiber wash mitt. Finally, rinse off all cleaner and dry the wheels with a microfiber cloth.
 
Work from top to bottom: 
With your two buckets, wash the paint with a microfiber wash mitt or cloth. Using a straight-line technique will help prevent swirls in the paint. Wash in the shade or in a garage to prevent the soap from drying on your vehicle. 
 
Remove rust spots:
Spray an iron remover on the vehicle. It will react with the small iron particles from wheels and brakes and allow them to be rinsed off.
 
Remove embedded contaminants:
Use a clay bar to fully decontaminate the paint. This smooths the paint and remove any leftover particles that may be embedded in the paint.
 
Protect the wheels:
Spray-on coatings can give your wheels months of protection and make future cleaning easier.
 
Dry the car: 
A squeegee works well for drying windows on your vehicle while a microfiber towel works well for drying paint.
 
Protect the paint:
There are a few different options for protecting your paint: waxes, paint sealants and ceramic coatings. For wax, there are a few different forms. This includes spray wax, paste wax, liquid wax and paste wax. Each wax form fits different situations and preferences, for example, spray wax works well for quick details, but doesn’t last as long as liquid or paste wax. Paint protectants are also usually easy to spray on and wipe to a nice shine.
 
Repel water: 
Clean windows with a microfiber towel and glass cleaner. Finish by applying a water repellent product to help rain bead off your windshield.
 
Finishing touches:
To give the tires a nice wet look and help protect them from UV rays, apply tire dressing to the outside wall of the tire. You can also apply trim dressing to protect trim from UV rays and give black trim a nice satin look.
Categories: Tips
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