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DIY: Detail Your Car At Home!

DIY: Detail Your Car At Home!

March 30, 2023    Auto News

Car detailing can keep your car beautiful while protecting it in the long run. If you decide to trade in or sell the car at some point, you’ll be glad you reduced depreciation with the tender loving care of detailing.

Detailing protects your car because it prevents the build-up of corrosive materials found in dirt that cause rust. You also protect your paint job by cleaning the body in gentle ways and applying products (such as car wax). Since Manitoba sees its fair share of salt, rust is a very common obstacle faced by vehicle owners.

We’re going to help you prolong your ride with this car detailing guide!

Before you begin, consider some of these general best practices:
• Avoid cross-contaminating your cleaning products. You can do this by swapping out cleaning materials, refreshing water and swapping buckets.
• Don’t wash the car in direct sunlight. Cool car surfaces make for better-drying and better-performing products.
• Lubrication prevents scratches, so don’t wipe dry surfaces with dry cloths.
• Wash your car at least once per month to protect your paint—not just when detailing.
• Treat any spills ASAP to prevent permanent damage to the car’s interior. Keep wipes in case of emergency!
• Washing your car by hand with the right tools will protect your paint better than any car wash can.

TOOLS FOR DETAILING YOUR CAR

1. CLEANING GEL

Where to buy: Amazon
Cost: $12

Cleaning gel or “slime” isn’t just a fun trend on TikTok — this stuff really works. Because it can bend into any crevice, the gel can gather anything from those crumbs in the seat to hard-to-reach dust within your vents. It’s also safe to use on basically all areas of the car’s interior, including the buttons of your door, for example.

2. TRIANGULAR PET HAIR REMOVER

Where to buy: Amazon
Cost: $21

These hair removal brushes are a must-have for pet owners. Whether you have a dog, cat, or hairy friend, this tool can get your interior spotless again.

3. LEATHER WIPES

Where to buy: Canadian Tire
Cost: $12

Make sure to buy leather wipes that are specifically made for car interiors, as they’re designed to clean the leather without damaging it. They also leave blocking agents which prevent future debris and fading. These come in handy during those accidental coffee spills!

4. CLEANING SPRAYS, MICROFIBER CLOTHS & WASH MITTS

Where to buy: Canadian Tire
Cost: Around $82

You’ll want one (or more) large microfiber towels for drying and wash mitts for washing. Using just a regular cloth can scratch your paint by dragging dirt across the surface. Take a look at the link above to see some useful cleaning sprays, including glass cleaner and tire cleaner.

Although sprays are great, you’ll definitely want to use just good ol’ soap and water for a lot of the exterior detailing.

5. CAR WAX, CERAMIC COATING OR PAINT PROTECTION FILM

Where to buy: Car Wax – Walmart, Ceramic Coating – Amazon and Paint Protection Film – Amazon
Cost: $10–$40

Sealants prevent paint damage from corrosive debris in snow and water, scratches from dirt and fading from sun rays. There are three types of sealants—wax, ceramic coating and paint protection film. For the average car owner, car wax gets the job done. However, if you’re looking to go the extra step, check out the other options.

Ceramic coatings resist heat, UV rays and environmental contaminants better than wax, as it actually creates a chemical bond with the paint’s surface. Ceramic coatings will also keep your car clean the longest. Paint protection film protects your car’s surface better than the other options and is often used on expensive car models.

BONUS: CUP HOLDER TRASH BIN

Where to buy: Canadian Tire
Cost: $7

While not really a detailing tool, we had to shout out this fun car accessory that could save you some time when you’re cleaning your car. Just empty out the little trash can every once in a while and your ride will stay that much tidier!

AREAS OF YOUR CAR TO DETAIL

INTERIOR

HEADLINER

Headliners can stain easily, especially when you have kids playing in the backseat. Let’s get those chocolate stains out!

Spray an upholstery cleaner evenly along the headliner (or roof) of the interior. The cleaner will specify how long to let it sit. With a bristled brush, gently rub against the fabric and cover the whole area. Then, using a microfiber towel, remove any excess moisture and allow the fabric to dry.

WINDOWS

Using your glass cleaner, spray the surface of your window and with a clean microfiber cloth, wipe down to the base of the window. Before performing this task on the exteriors of the window, you’ll want to give them a full-on wash. Check out the “BODY” steps in the next section to learn more.

MATS

Remove all mats, then vacuum the flooring of the vehicle. To get out stains, use a carpet cleaner. After letting the cleaner sit for a few minutes, scrub a brush or rag in circular motions. Follow any additional instructions as per the carpet cleaner container.

To clean mats, you can perform the same steps but begin by shaking them out. Watch that the wind doesn’t blow debris from the mats toward your interior!

EXTERIOR

WHEELS

When you clean the exterior, it’s a good idea to start with the wheels. Among all the areas you’ll be detailing, the wheels attract the most debris and grime. By getting these out of the way, you won’t have to worry about accidentally rubbing dirt from them onto the body.

First, douse the area in water. Then apply your wheel cleaner, spraying from side to side. Then, scrub the surface with a tire brush.

TIP: Tire brushes are great because a high-quality one can be used on bumpers and fenders as well, not to mention on a wide array of vehicles.

Now, spray the wheel down with water and allow it to dry. Once the wheels are dry, you’ll want to apply your tire cleaner and scrub it down with the tire brush!

Your wheels are now ready to roll!

BODY

When cleaning the body, it’s best to clean from the top to the bottom of the body. Again, this is all about preventing the spread of salt and debris.

If you have a black car, you’ll want to be extra careful when cleaning, as streaks are more likely to show. High-quality wash mitts and microfiber cloths can make a huge difference.

If you have a pre-wash soap, you can wash down the body of the car to remove as much dirt as possible before hands-on cleaning. Otherwise, dip your mitt in a bucket of rinse water followed by a bucket of shampoo solution. Clean in small sections and rinse the mitt before dipping it in the shampoo solution each time.

Now hose down the car. If you have wet wax spray, you can get to waxing real quick. Otherwise, you’ll want to wait till it’s dry. Apply your wax to a pad or microfiber cloth, and wipe down the body in small, circular motions. Once the wax is dry, rub down the surface with a new microfiber cloth.

Tada! Your car is officially detailed. If you do this every 4–6 months (along with minor cleaning in between), you’ll maintain the value of your ride and protect it.

Considering trading in? Check out our inventory online, or swing by a Birchwood Credit dealership near you. Birchwood dealerships offer a wide variety of car maintenance services, so we can help you prolong your car’s lifespan too!

Rebecca Lake
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