So you think you’ve been cleaning your car correctly all along right?…Maybe not. Here are 15 common auto detailing mistakes that most car washers make but shouldn’t.
1.Washing the Car with Detergent
Cleaning agents like dish soap, laundry detergent, hand soap, and glass cleaner are not formulated for washing cars and often strip the protective layer of wax from the car’s paint. Powdered detergents are the worst because if the particles are not thoroughly dissolved, they will leave fine scratches on your car’s finish. Your best bet is to use a dedicated car soap that will gently remove the dirt and grime from the vehicle’s surface without compromising paint protection.
2. Cleaning the Wheels Last
Contrary to popular practice, it is actually better to clean the wheel wells, rims and tires, before washing the body of the car. The wheels are the dirtiest part of the car and need to be scrubbed. If you clean them last, you will splash their dirt and grime onto the car’s freshly washed paint. The best course of action is to wash and rinse the wheels and wheel wells first, change your cleaning cloth and the water in your bucket, then wash the body of the car from top to bottom.
3. Using One Cloth for Everything
Never wash the body of the car with the same sponge or cloth that you used to wash the tires and the wheel wells. Little rocks and other sharp particles from the wheels can become embedded in the fibers of the fabric and can leave scratches and swirl marks all over your car. Instead, use separate cloths for cleaning the interior, the body and the wheels of the car.
4. Using Tire Shine to Dress the Door Panels and Dashboard
Many motorists rub tire shine on the hard surfaces inside the vehicle in an attempt to enhance their color and protect them from cracking. However, tire shine is too thick, oily, and sticky to be used on the vehicle’s interior. Rubbing tire shine on these vinyl, plastic and rubber parts inside the car will not only make them look unnaturally greasy but will also attract lots of dirt and grime and make them difficult to clean. Instead, use a dedicated interior dressing that is specifically formulated to beautify and protect those surfaces.
5. Scrapping Dirt Off of the Door Panels and Dashboard
It can be very tempting to use your finger nails or sharp objects to scrape built-up dirt off of the vinyl and rubber inside your car. However, that can permanently damage the fabric and make it look worse. One of the easiest ways to remove dirt from these surfaces is to use a steam cleaner and a microfiber towel. You can also use a vinyl/plastic cleaner.
6. Washing the Car in Direct Sunlight or When it is Hot
Excessive heat will cause the soapy water to dry too quickly (i.e. before you are able to remove it). This can leave water spots and residue on the paint that can be difficult to remove and may result in swirl marks. Try to wash the car in a cool shaded area, very early in the morning or very late in the evening when the sun is not as direct. You should also avoid washing the car immediately after driving it.
7. Only Using One Bucket for Washing
Use two buckets when lathering your car: one with soapy water and the other with pure water. After you apply some of the soapy solution to the car, rinse the cloth or sponge in the pure water before dipping the fabric back into the soapy solution. This minimizes the amount of dirt and grime that is reapplied to the car.
8. Rolling the Windows Down Before They Dry
Rolling the windows down prematurely can cause water-streaks to form on the glass. Allow your windows to dry for an hour or two after washing them to prevent this from occurring.
9. Leaving the Hose Running While Washing
This one may seem like a no-brainer but you will be surprised at how many people fail to turn the water off. If you do not have a hose nozzle, turn the pipe off while you wash your car. If you don’t you will waste gallons of water.
10. Neglecting the Floor Mats
Do not place the dirty mats back into your clean car. After you vacuum the carpet, vacuum the mats before you place them back into the car.
11. Using a Squeegee, Chamois or Dry Towel to Dry the Car
Squeegees, chamois, and dry towels can all pick up and drag dirt, small rocks and other sharp particles across your car’s paint causing fine scratches. It is best to use a damp microfiber or terry towel to safely dry your car.
12. Pouring Wax/Polish Directly on to the Paint
Applying waxes and polishes directly to your paint can lead to uneven streaks in the finish.
13. Waxing Too Many Times
Two layers of wax are all your need. Excessive wax is not only wasteful, it is difficult to wipe off. Do yourself a favour, apply no more than two coats so that you save yourself time, money and energy.
14. Spot-Cleaning the Upholstery
You may thick it is a good idea to use fabric cleaner on only the visible stains on your upholstery. True, your stains will be gone, but your fabric will look spotty because the rest of the upholstery will now look dirty compared to the freshly cleaned spot. If you will be cleaning your upholstery, it is best to do a full steam clean or hot water extraction.
15. Covering Dirty Seats with Chair Covers
Seat covers should be used to protect clean seats not to hide dirty ones. If you are going to use seat covers, make sure the seats are cleaned first.