Keeping your car clean can be all but impossible during Canadian winters. That’s why it’s important to know a few car cleaning tips for spring to wash away winter damages. Salt and sand hold moisture and can slowly eat away at both the inside and the outside of your car. Once your car thaws out, the corrosive effect of road salts worsens. Your best chance at preventing corrosion and expensive body damage is to eliminate these alkaline compounds as soon as possible. When the temperatures grow milder and your car begins to thaw, start thinking about giving your ride a thorough spring cleaning, inside and out. Discover now our spring car detailing guide with 3 tips from the pros.
- Difficulty: Easy
- Duration: 30-45 minutes
- How often: Every season
Spring car cleaning: Exterior
Rinse and Clean
The outside of your vehicle is the only part most people see, so it’s understandable if you concentrate on washing and protecting the body work. But don’t forget about the underside of your vehicle, where rust can go unnoticed. Start your spring car cleaning with a thorough rinse, top to bottom and underneath. A garden hose with a fire hose nozzle is good, though a pressure washer is better. Just work with what you have.
After rinsing, use a quality automotive shampoo, like the Armor All snow foam car wash soap, a couple of buckets (soapy water and clean water), and a wash mitt or brush to clean your car thoroughly. Start with the roof and work your way down the pillars, hood, hatch, doors, and bumpers. Apply soap from the soapy-water bucket with the mitt or soft brush, cleaning in a roughly circular motion. Always rinse in the clean water bucket before getting more soap from the soapy bucket. Don’t allow the car to dry—you may have to spray it down occasionally. Use a stiff brush to clean the wheels and tires, then thoroughly rinse the entire vehicle from top to bottom.
Wax and protect
Once the body is thoroughly clean and damp, you can go one of two ways. If the clear coat is in good shape, a spray wax like NAPA BodyPro Polymer Liquid Wax is a quick and easy way to improve shine. This has the added benefit of keeping road grime from sticking. If the finish is a little dull, use a polishing compound to restore the surface or a clay bar to decontaminate the paint before waxing the paint finish.
Spring car cleaning: Interior
It’s no easy feat keeping out the elements. During the winter, snow can soak into your vehicle’s carpets, where it freezes, then thaws, then evaporates. That’s when those infamous salt lines appear, because road salt doesn’t evaporate. After thoroughly vacuuming as much loose salt and sand as possible (use a stiff brush to work even more of it loose), use clear water or a water-vinegar solution to dissolve the salt. You can then use towels to soak up the residue.
Once the salt has been dissolved out, use a carpet cleaner, like Meguiar’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner, to remove stains and add a fresh, clean scent. This is an especially good idea if you used a vinegar solution. Spray the cleaner on stained areas and work it in with a stiff brush, and then vacuum out your vehicle. A wet-dry vacuum is a good choice, but a steam cleaner is ideal. Afterward, leave the windows open for a few hours to give the carpets time to dry out. You can also use fans to speed up the drying process.
Spring car cleaning may take up part of a weekend, but you’ll be rewarded for the time you invest with a great-looking and longer-lasting vehicle. Now that you know the proper way to wash your car post-winter, check out our next article on the differences between cleaning black cars and white cars.
By Benjamin Jerew