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8 Things You Need to Do for a Cleaner Car

It's that time of year! Here's how to get your vehicle in pristine condition for the season.

Man in green t-shirt washing the side mirror of a red car with a blue rag

Winter is finally over, which makes now a great time to tackle the muck, salt and aroma of hockey gear still clinging to your ride. To help make that deep clean as painless as possible, we asked John Tewogbade, the owner of detailing shop DetailnPlasti, for a few tips.

1. Don’t Rush the Cleaning Process

You’re going to need more than a bucket and a tattered shammy.

The key to a good deep clean is patience, says Tewogbade, who recommends allocating at least three hours to swab the inside and outside of your car. If that number seems ominous, spread the process over a couple of days.  


2. Gear Up With the Right Cleaning Accessories

You’re going to need more than a bucket and a tattered shammy. Tewogbade recommends investing in a microfibre mitt, which will help remove grime without scratching your paint. “Washing mitts tend to be fairly plush, which is what you want,” he says. Also, use two buckets: one filled with soapy water (for washing) and the other with water alone (for rinsing your microfibre mitt).

Woman with sunglasses and green tank top washing a soapy windshield with a sponge

3. Blast Away Dirt First

The key to a good clean is removing as much dirt as possible before you start washing. Tewogbade recommends using a power washer to blast away grime. And don’t worry—as long as you hold the nozzle more than a foot away from the car, it won’t harm the paint.

Super soapy hood being scrubbed with a sponge by a man wearing a pink glove

4. Don’t Skimp on Soap

Make sure you only use soap designed for washing cars. Other cleaners can dry out the rubber seals around your windows and damage any wax coating you might have applied. Dish soap in particular is a no-no. It can be hard to rinse away, leaving stubborn residue behind. “When soap dries on paint, it can leave severe spots that can only be removed [by] a detailer,” says Tewogbade.

5. Blow-Dry Your Vehicle With Care

When it comes time to dry your car, avoid rough towels and rags, which can scratch your paint. Instead, use a microfibre cloth. If your car has a special ceramic coating, you can fire up a leaf blower and give your vehicle a power dry.

Want some more unexpected tips? Read up on these auto care hacks.

6. Use Vinegar to Fight Salt Stains

Few things are better at getting salt stains out of your carpets than vinegar. Mixed 50-50 with water, the condiment masterfully breaks down salt, allowing you to scrub it away with a rough brush.

Hand wiping the dashboard of the interior of a car

7. Sometimes, Simple Does It

You don’t necessarily need special cleaners to spiff up your dashboard, says Tewogbade. “A nice wipe with a damp cloth is more than sufficient for me.”

8. Don’t Forget to Wax

The sticky stuff will help give your car a nice sheen and offer a measure of protection against grime. There are lots of brands available, but Tewogbade recommends one that contains carnauba, a wax from a Brazilian tree that has long been a standby for detailers. Better waxes, he adds, will have a higher concentration of the stuff.

Close up of a very clean black car and back wheel outside on a sunny day


Everybody needs an auto expert. Check out the 10 most common car questions that people ask CAA’s team at Consumer and Technical Services CATS. 

“Check engine” light on? Car stalling intermittently? Not sure what to do? You’re in luck. CAA Members can speak to a CATS specialist by phone at 1-866-464-6448 or email cats@caasco.ca for free automotive advice.


Image credit: Rosalee Roy Photography, Pixabay and twinsterphoto