For some, cleaning your car seems like a chore and so a lot of people decide to get it professionally cleaned instead. However, if you are one of those who prefer to do the job yourself, you may not have all the products you need to get a professional-looking clean.
While you may have the basics, you may not know what else you could use to make your car look as good as new. So, we have decided to compile a shortlist of products that we believe every car owner should have.
- Washings mitt/sponge
- Car soap/shampoo
- Wheel cleaner
- Microfiber towels/lint-free cloths/chamois
- Brush/cloth for cleaning wheels
- Glass cleaner
- Upholstery brush/cleaner
- Dashboard cleaner/wipes
These are some of the most simple and obvious things to own in your car washing kit. However, there are a lot of things that you should not use on your car’s bodywork. For instance, did you know that those big yellow sponges a lot of people use are actually bad for your paintwork?
As the face of a sponge is relatively flat, grit particles become trapped between the sponge and the bodywork. This is what creates those circular ‘swirl’ patterns you see on some cars – something we’re sure you will want to avoid!
Instead, we recommend opting for something like a microfibre cloth or mitt as these will detract the dirt away from the surface to within the cloth/mitt.
To most, a bucket is a bucket. Its job is to hold the water in and that is that. However, although a normal bucket can work fine, you could always opt use insert a grit guard into your bucket.
A grit guard is a circular piece of plastic that sits near the bottom of your bucket. It has holes and spaces so that the grit and stones etc that come off of your cleaning mitt/cloth when rinsing it in the bucket, fall down to the bottom. This stops you from being able to put the mitt/cloth down too far into the bucket and picking up all the grit to then rub over your car.
We also recommend using two buckets – one for the soap and one for rinsing. It is a small and cheap extra step to take to insure your car’s bodywork remains spotless.
Although it may be tempting to use regular old dish soap, this really is not the best thing to use on your car. As it is a degreaser, it has a lot of harsh chemicals in it and believe it or not, dish soap will actually slowly break down the sealants or wax in the bodywork leaving it dry and damaged and can also dry out the plastic moldings.
Instead, you should always opt to use a car shampoo. Although there is a wide range of shampoo’s available, almost any will be better than dish soap!
It is a good idea to use a specific wheel cleaner when it comes to your alloys. This is because you may find using the car shampoo just will not be able to budge the build-up of grime and other contaminants that may be on them.
Wheel cleaners have a different formula in them to make them effective to use on alloys. Just as it is not recommended to use car shampoo on wheels, it is also not recommended to use wheel cleaner on your bodywork. In doing so you run the risk of fading the paintwork.
Another very simple yet effective tool is a squeegee. These can be found in so many places and can be really cheap. There isn’t much you need to be careful of with these, other than to check the rubber is sitting inside the metal/plastic casing properly before use. Don’t skimp on checking this as you may well end up scratching your windows!
You can use a mixture of these products to dry your car after you have washed it. You really shouldn’t let your car ‘air-dry’ as this will lead to unsightly water marks being left behind. We recommend using microfiber towels or lint-free cloths over a chamois for the same reasons as we recommend using them over a sponge. The surface of a chamois is very flat and so if there is any dirt or grit left on the surface, you could potentially end up leaving very fine scratches.
If you decide you want to use a chamois, be aware that you can also get synthetic versions if that is something that you are concerned about.
Unsurprisingly, you will find that the dirtiest part of your car is likely to be your wheels. When washing your car, we recommend cleaning your wheels last. This is because it is very likely that there will be larger pieces of dirt and grit in and around the wheels and so you will not want to run the risk of carrying them over to the car’s bodywork.
If you have access to a pressure washer, this would be ideal. However, if you do not, you can still get a clean finish by using a cloth or a wheel brush. You can find brushes that are specifically designed for cleaning wheels from anywhere that sells car items.
We recommend using one that has a lot of bristles on it (but be sure it says ‘non-scratch’ and is strong. If you can see the metal part of the brush easily through the bristles, you run the risk of scratching the alloy with the metal part of the brush. You will also want to use one that is strong and durable. We recommend using one that will have little to no bristle fall out and a strong handle.
You will find that using glass cleaner on your windows will leave a superior shine and a smear-free finish. This is because glass cleaner has a different formula compared to car shampoo and so will help keep your windows cleaner for longer.
Owatrol Polytrol is a color restorer that brings back the original color and shine on a wide range of surfaces. It is a wonder product that can be used on plastic, metal, stone and more! If your bumpers, trims or bodywork has become faded and lost its shine, an application of Polytrol will bring it right back!
Polytrol works by penetrating deep into the surface and re-wetting the pigments that have dried out due to exposure from weathering, pollution, and damaging UV rays. It is quick and easy to apply and you can have results in as little as 10 mins! When used on metal surfaces it can remove minor rusting and give corrosion protection.
Those are all the exterior products we recommend, now onto the interior ones!
An upholstery brush and cleaner is always a handy thing to have in your car washing kit. Let’s face it, accidents happen! Even if you do not allow eating in your car, you may still be exposed to mud or other contaminants.
Applying a spray foam cleaner and then gently using a nylon brush usually removes the majority of stains from fabric. However, if you have leather upholstery you will instead need to use a specific leather cleaner and brush. Be sure to use the right products for your interiors or you may have it looking worse than before!
Another quick and easy thing to do to get your car looking professionally cleaned is to use specific dashboard cleaners. This is because they will have a specific formula that is best used for removal of dust and grime with a non-smear finish.
Or, if your dashboard is looking faded and has lost its shine, you can use Polytrol color restorer! Simply clean the surface, wait for it to dry, apply the Polytrol, leave it to work, wipe off the excess, buff and you’re done! All in as little as 10 mins!
If possible, we recommend using a dashboard cleaner and towel/kitchen roll to clean your surfaces. You will usually find you can get better coverage and value for money using this way to clean instead of the specific dashboard cleaning wipes that are available.
We hope you have enjoyed our post and have learned a thing or two. If you have any other tips or advice, please leave them in the comments below. We love hearing from you!