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Spring is super busy for most folks. You probably already have a to-do list that’s ready to burst like a vigorously shaken soft drink.
Getting your trusty ride looking lustrous and gleaming but without spending lot of time or cash is probably an item on that long to-do list. Winter is finally over, and now is your car’s time to shine.
Below is a list of simple tips and hacks to help you get your ride ready for spring, as quickly, effectively and inexpensively as possible.
1. Use Dish Soap (But Not on Your Paint)
A quality dish soap, diluted heavily in water, is the best interior, plastic, and glass cleaner you’ll ever use. A bottle of name-brand dish soap costs $4, amounts to a lifetime supply, and cleans just about everything inside of your ride. Dilute three or four drops of a quality dish soap into a small pail or bowl of warm water, and keep the suds to a minimum. Then dunk your rag, wring it out and get wiping. Just remember — don’t use dish soap on your exterior paint, since dish soap thinks the wax and clearcoat on your ride’s paint is baked-on lasagna and will try to strip it off.
2. Use a Foam Cannon, Because Those are Neat
Have you heard? A large cannon that spouts fluffy soap suds all over your car is a thing that now exists — and you should use one. It makes lathering faster and more effective, protects your paint while washing, and looks downright cool, since it’s a big-ass cannon that shoots foam.
Best of all, ensuring your ride is totally covered in foam lather before you start washing it is a great way to indirectly prolong the life of its finish.
Chris Minor is the owner of Refined Shine detailing in Lively, Ontario. “The worst thing you can do to your paint is to touch it, and with a foam cannon, you’re pre-soaking your car with soap suds, which has lots of benefits,” he says. “It breaks down dirt and grime, but also offers full lubrication for the washing process, which can minimize swirls. It also looks cool!”
Best of all, with a foam cannon, you’ll save time, too.
3. Spray Wax / Detailer
Giving your car a full wax job when you don’t have a free afternoon is just the worst, but treating your paint to a coat of spray wax or spray detailer looks and functions just as well, and only adds about two minutes of work, since you spray it on while drying your ride. Lightly mist the spray wax (it’s a solution of wax droplets suspended in a liquid) over your ride’s still-wet paint, one panel at a time, while you work in the shade. Then, dry with a towel or chamois, and use a clean microfiber towel to buff any streaks off, to a perfect, water-repelling shine. You can even use a spray wax or spray detailer between washes, to shine up a lightly dirty ride, sans hose — meaning you’ll save time and money.
4. Orbital Buffer Carpet Cleaning
Get the upholstery attachment, and your orbital buffer makes a kickass carpet cleaner that’ll scrub a winter’s worth of salt stains and coffee spills clean out of your filthy rugs, lickety-split. Read the instructions — and use this attachment with the correct cleaning solution and speed setting. You’ll be able to power-scrub your carpeting to kingdom come, with minimal elbow grease, and minimal time, which basically makes you a genius.
5. Use Two Pails
This tip won’t help you wash your ride any faster, but it will help protect your paint finish. Fill one pail with clean water and use it to rinse your sponge off between trips to the soap pail. Frequent rinsing of your sponge or wash mitt with clean water before dunking it into your soap pail means you won’t be scrubbing contaminants into your paint. And remember — never use the same wash mitt, brush or sponge on your paint as you use to clean your wheels, as this can allow abrasive brake dust particles to come in contact with your paint while you wash.
6. WD40 is a Great Wheel Polish
WD40 is a popular miracle liquid that can be used for just about anything — including a great chrome or alloy wheel polish. It’s cheap, highly effective, and you probably have some in your garage right now. Just spray a little onto a rag, wipe it over your wheels, and buff clean as needed with another clean rag or cloth. The WD40 leaves a lustrous shine behind, as well as a layer of protection. Best of all, it melts through grime and brake dust like a plasma cutter through tinfoil. Just be sure not to spray WD40 directly onto your wheels, as you definitely don’t want any to get in contact with your brakes.
7. Windshield Cleaning Lever
Cleaning the inside of your car’s windshield seems like it should be easy, but usually, it’s a total pain. Do you like contorting yourself like a Russian gymnast and swearing a lot? We didn’t think so. Try a windshield cleaning lever instead. It’s a hinged cleaning pad mounted to an arm, allowing you to clean cigarette smoke residue, smudges, and sneeze particles right to the very edge of your windshield — and all with just one hand, no twisting, and minimal effort. Just spray a little window cleaner on the washable pad, and get to work.
8. Emzone Odor Stop
Does your car smell like the inside of your dog’s kennel? The bottom of your gym bag? A half-eaten box of fries? A little of each? After giving your ride a good cleaning and vacuum, consider using a canister of Emzone Odor Stop. You pull the tab, press the nozzle, and toss this odor-eating hand-grenade into your ride, letting it sit for 10 minutes with the AC cranked. Miraculous vapors course through every part of your ride’s cabin and climate control system, nuking bad smells. In just a few minutes, your ride will smell like delicious DQ soft-serve, not socks. One canister equals one treatment, and the cost is typically $10 or less.
This article first appeared on Auto Guide