Spring is here – and you’ve got a yard to clean, things to plant, a lawn to resuscitate, and a vehicle or two in your driveway caked with the remnants of a salty, slushy and corrosive winter.
Translation? Your to-do list is about to swell up like Toronto housing prices. And sure – you know you should give your beloved car, truck or crossover some much-needed TLC, but you don’t want to spend a lot of time and money to do it.
So, here’s a list of tips, tools and hacks for a quick and easy spring cleaning session with your ride.
Available at your local Canadian Tire or most any automotive centre on the relative cheap, detailing brushes are a low-cost, high-impact item to add to your cleaning arsenal. Used by professionals to detail hard-to-clean nooks, and even crannies, they remove dust, crumbs and contaminants from the thinnest panel gaps and trim sculpts on your dash, console, vents, cluster and more. Similar detailing brushes can be used to clean more intricate wheel designs of dust and grime. You can find a set of detailing brushes to add to your car care kit for under $10, and they’ll give your car a professionally detailed look, without the time or fuss.
Dashboard detailing brushes are also great for cleaning household electronics, like your keyboard.
Carpet Cleaning with your Orbital
You know an orbital buffer can help make quick work of a wax-job on your ride, but they have other uses too – including as a powerful carpet cleaner. Look for a carpet cleaning attachment for your buffer for less than $20, and follow the directions, using the proper speed setting and cleaning agents, to power-scrub the living heck out of your ride’s coffee-stained carpeting and mats. You’ll get professional-level, deep-cleaned results, with minimal time and effort.
Optimum No Rinse
Chris Minor is a professional auto detailer, and the owner of Refined Shine Detailing in Lively, Ontario. He shares his personal favourite time and money-saving product:
“If I had to recommend one product for your average weekend detailer, it would be Optimum No Rinse. This product can be heavily diluted and used as a car wash, clay-bar lube, instant detailer, glass cleaner, and a light interior cleaner. A 32-ounce bottle is about 25 bucks, and it will last for years. You don’t even need to use two buckets.”
Looking for an all-in-one miracle cleaner solution for your ride’s paint, glass, interior and the like? Give Optimum No Rinse a look.
Big-time shine, without the time! That’s the concept behind spray-wax products, also called spray-detailer or waterless wash and wax. Whatever the name, the concept is similar: you spritz the solution over the paint of your freshly washed and still-wet car, and buff it off with a big fuzzy towel. You’re applying a thin coat of lustrous wax as you dry your car – effectively giving it the appearance and water repellency of a wax job, but in a fraction of the time. Many folks use a spray wax to touch their ride up between washes, too.
For the fastest and most effective application, be sure to apply your spray wax in the shade, to a vehicle that’s been partially, but not fully, air dried.
The main reason you want a foam cannon is because it’s a giant cannon that shoots foam. You fill this gadget with car wash soap, attach it to your hose, and use it to blast fluffy soap suds all over your ride. Not only does it negate the need to measure and mix your car wash soap, but it lathers your entire ride in seconds, and can even help keep your ride’s paint in tip-top shape, because it ensures the vehicle is totally, evenly and thoroughly lathered before you start to wash.
Minor comments, “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: it breaks down dirt and grime, but also offers full lubrication for the washing process, which can minimize paint contact and swirls. It also looks cool!”
Consider buying a pair of foam cannons, and dual-wielding them the next time you wash your car or truck. This is an exercise in ultimate manliness, and your neighbours will bask in your majesty.
Window Cleaning Wand
If you’ve ever tried to clean the inside of your windshield, you know it’s just the absolute worst thing of life. The curved shape and tight edges make it difficult to get that rag into all of the right areas, you get glass cleaner all over your dashboard, and you have to contort yourself like a Russian gymnast to reach all of the corners. Enter the window cleaning wand: a clever little cleaning pad attached to a hinged lever. Spray your glass cleaner onto it, and use it with one hand (and no undue gymnastics) to clean the entire surface of your windshield – lickety-split, and with no swearing.
WD40 Makes a Great Wheel Polish
Do you combine leftover soap-slivers in the shower to make a new bar of soap, or use a ruler to extract toothpaste remnants from the tube? Congratulations: you’re cheap, and you’ll probably love our next tip. Did you know that WD40 makes a great wheel polish? Just spray some on a paper towel, wipe it over your chrome wheels, and use a clean paper towel to buff it off. The shine is amazing, a protective film is left behind, and best of all, WD40 is about $4 per bottle, and you probably have some in your garage right now.
Never spray WD40 directly onto your wheels, as it could get onto your brakes, which makes them slippery and could result in an accident.
The Magic of Dawn Dish Soap
Dawn dish soap is the best at removing melted cheese, smears of BBQ sauce, and various dried gravies from flatware – and it makes a hell of an interior cleaner for your filthy ride, too. Dilute a few drops in a small pail or bowl of hot water, minimizing the suds. The resulting solution melts through dirt, grime, smudges, tobacco smoke residue and the like on most surfaces in your car. It does a great job cleaning plastic, and makes a bitchin’ window cleaner, too.
Don’t Sweat the Soap
Need you spend $45 on a jug of car wash soap? Or will the $7 jug do? According to Minor, the biggest difference between a $45 car wash soap and a $7 car wash soap, is about $38.
“There isn’t a huge difference between your mainstream car wash soap and the pricier boutique soap products. Different products foam more than others, have wax in them or not, offer stronger dilution ratios, and the like. But they’re all in the same ballpark.”
Most important? Save the dish soap for the dishes (or your ride’s interior). For most folks, a cheap car wash soap is all that’s needed.
Metro Vac N Blo
A great investment for the casual detailer, this device amounts to a powerful and portable little vacuum that moonlights as a blower. Use it with a plethora of attachments to vacuum the grossness out of your ride, and switch to blower mode to make drying that wet paint quick and easy. The Vac N Blo also helps make garage and workspace cleanup a cinch.
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