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Valeting Secrets of the Experts.

A can of upholstery foam cleaner is excellent to keep in the boot of the car as a general purpose clean that can be used for virtually anything. If you have a spillage in the car you can clean it up there and then, or else, you can prevent making your upholstery dirty by using it to wash your hands... although it is not a powerful cleaner, it is enough to clean greasy hands from take-aways or clean up after changing a spare wheel. You can do just about anything with it from cleaning dust from your dashboard to removing birds mess from the outside of your car. It's also good for removing grubby marks from clothing in an emergency. But it's best use is if somebody is sick in your car... it will not spread the contamination and it will mask the smell.

Normally we would advise against using household products on your car - especially those from the kitchen, but with your car's interior there are lots 0f products that do work. The Kind of tricks that Aggie and Kim tell you also work. For example sprinkling bicarbonate of soda on your carpets an hour before you vacuum will help rid your car of stale smells. It's probably best not to put anything on your seats, instead wiping them with a damp leather or microfibre cloth removes much dirt. But if you test your seats to make sure they can be shampooed then you can use products like Vanish.

Most plastic surfaces are best washed with a damp cloth and warm soapy water. But it is very very important that the cloth is just damp and not wet when cleaning your dashboard. Many cars have sensitive electronic from computers which control air-bags to switches for your windows - none of which respond well to water. A single droplet of water in the wrong place could end up costing you thousands of pounds. For this reason it is important never to spray anything directly onto your dashboard. Furniture polish such as Pledge works as well as most Automotive plastic dressings, just be sure to spray it onto a cloth and don't spray directly.

You can Vacuum in hard to reach places if you get yourself a length of hose pipe. Your hose pipe is probably long enough that you can spare 20", all you need to do is place one end of the hose between thumb and fore-finger and cup your hand over the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner. This narrow extension not only enables you to get into those hard to reach areas down the side of the centre console, but it actually has more suck.

Car Survival Kit - The chances of being trapped in a snow drift for several days are pretty slim in Britain, but a car survival kit can help protect your car from bargains! Are the kind of person that pops out for a loaf of bread and comes home with bedding plants and a gazebo? If you are, the we strongly recommend that you find space in the boot of your car for the following items: a couple of black bin liners, some plastic sheeting, an old towel and a travel blanket. It seems that on the first few hot and sunny days of the year, lots of you rush down to B&Q and buy yourselves house paint or fence paint, and this is when disaster strikes for a great many people! Paint tins are not vacuum sealed, they contain air, and you take the tin from a cool air conditioned building and place it in a hot car. The air and paint expands and there is a good chance that the lid will pop off before you manage to get home. During the spring and early summer, we see as many as 3 cars a week with boots or foot wells full of paint, varnish, lacquer and wood stain!
Most tins now come with three or more metal clips on the lit to hold it down, but they don't seem to help, a far better solution for avoiding a car full of paint is to seal the paint tins in a bin liner. The great irony is that most DIY centres actually sell bin liners and plastic sheeting!
Also remember that you can buy very cheap throws and blankets in Ikea, because Ikea is another place that can spell disaster for your car... so many times we hear the story that you have found some cheap mirrors or picture frames at the super-store, and to avoid breaking them, you put them in the main passenger area instead of in the boot with all the other shopping! This sounds like a sensible idea at first, but it's far cheaper to replace a £5.99 picture frame, than it is to repair leather upholstery. And for another fiver, you could have bought a blanket to wrap the picture frame in. Travel blankets are very useful, you can use them as padding to stop stuff moving about, as packaging to protect luggage and your car, and if you do ever get stuck in a snow drift, they could save your life! You can get lined blankets which have a waterproof plastic coating on one side but these are expensive, instead we suggest that you get some plastic sheeting, so if you do fancy a picnic at the county show, you can put the sheeting on the damp ground, and the blanket on top. A few meters of plastic sheeting costs next to nothing and can save your boot area on those trips to the dump, or on the way back from the garden centre... and if you really can't stay away from garden centres, and cant resist bedding plants, maybe you should consider buying a purpose made boot liner.
And if you can find one, it's also a good idea to keep an old towel in your car, it's good for wet dogs and muddy boots. And if anything does get spilt in your car, putting a towel over it will help soak it up, a damp towel over wet paint will prevent it drying, making it easier for us to clean up for you. None of these items takes up much space and they can help you avoid costly repairs and clean-ups. Remember you have them next time you are at B&Q, Ikea, or the local Indian take-away.

Avoid wear on upholstery and carpets, by keeping them clean. Special attention needs to be paid to the areas of the drivers seat nearest the door. It is the leading edge of the seat and the bolster which wear quickest because you slide over them as you enter and exit your car. Try to remember to lift yourself over these areas especially if you have leather upholstery.
The area that gets the most wear is the carpet under the accelerator pedal, the dirt from your shoes drops down and your heel grinds it in. Valet this area regularly and protect the foot well by buying after-market floor mats, get fabric ones for summer and rubber ones for winter.

Use a stiff brush when vacuuming your carpets. If you brush your carpets before you vacuum it will loosen grass and grit which has been ground in, often your carpet will have dried grass and other vegetation which gets caught up in the fibres, this is a particular problem when you take the Christmas tree to the dump, pine needles are very difficult to remove. A very stiff brush can help. Fishing tackle shops are a good place to get brushes as they are used to de scale fish. For dog hair, a rubber brush is best, to remove cat hair you can use the same kind of brushes you can buy for clothes and furniture.

Check your paintwork with a sandwich bag. Once you have washed your car, put some soapy water onto the upper surfaces for your car, then place a thin sandwich bag over your hand before feeling the paintwork. This will help you to detect fallout and other contaminants. This method will help you to detect what you can't see with the naked eye, especially on metallic coloured cars.

White vinegar will remove calcium deposits which cause unsightly water stains on your cars windows and mirrors.

Wax and Polish can work on glass. Polish is mildly abrasive and can help to remove stains and water spots. Waxing your windows will help water to bead up and roll off, but don't wax the windscreen and this can cause smearing.

Prevent Rust under your bonnet. Modern cars often come supplied with bare metal part which can rust, such as screw heads, clips and bolts. Once these begin to oxidize, the rust will spread to the bodywork where they are attached. When you buy a new car, check under the bonnet for these areas and cover them with white grease (available from motor accessory shops), an item you should pay particular attention to is the earth lead which connects the battery terminal to the bodywork.

We all know to avoid getting wax an polish on plastic as it will usually cause chalky white marks. Often a pencil eraser will remove these marks, ore else a mild solvent will work. The most easily available solvent is Surgical Spirit or Rubbing Alcohol. But while plastic must be avoided, window rubbers and rubber inserts can be cleaned with normal car polish (not wax), but you need to be very careful not to get polish into creases where they can be very hard to remove.

 
A soft paint brush, note the ferrel wrapped with insulation tape.
 

A paintbrush can be a useful tool. A large soft paintbrush is excellent for dusting interior trim, cleaning air vents, buttons switches and around the steering column. It can also be useful for removing wax and polish residue from creases and crevices on the exterior of your car. A paintbrush is one of the most commonly used valeting tools at Clean Image.
Wrap electrical insulation tape or masking tape around the metal ferral, totally covering it and overlapping by about 2 mm, this will prevent it scratching your plastic trim.

Think about the order in which you do things. If you decide to apply an exterior plastic dressing, apply it before you wax/polish -- this way if you get wax or polish on the plastics because the dressing will top it sticking. Likewise, apply tyre sheen and ally wheel coating after you have applied wax, but before you take it off. If the wind catches your tyre dressing and blows it down the side of your car,the wax will act like a mask. Thinking about the order in which you do things makes life easier and saves lots of time

The very best way to dry a car is to take a large microfibre cloth, one in each hand. one for the main drying, the other for finishing. Good quality Micrifibre cloths are exceptional and far out-perform chamois leathers and synthetic chamois leathers... but they do need to be good quality with a 20%-80% blend. The bigger they are, the better they work

Did it occur to you that you never wash the insides of your windows? Thats why you always end up with smears dispite using a glass cleaner -- you are probably just pushing the dirt around. The best way to do windows is to use a general purpose cleaner and two microfibre cloths, one damp, the other dry. Wipe down the inside of the windows, being careful to get into all the corners. And then while the glass is still damp, dry with the other microfibre cloth.
You can then finish them with a good quality glass cleaner or polish, but you may find you don't need to.

To get a dashboard you need to get it clean (as opposed to covering it in silicone!). Use a damp microfibre cloth to wipe it over. You can do the dials and stearing wheel, and the walnut too. A good quality general purpose cleaner is invaluable for this, just ensure your cloth is damp and NOT dripping wet... a lot the electrical stuff on and behind your dashbaord will not thank you for getting it wet.

To clean your wheels, use a good quality wheel cleaner, follow the instructions doing the whole of all four wheels, and then roll the car forward or back so that the wheels turn 180°. Watch where the valve is and this will help you to judge it.
You will most probably find that doing this will reveal all the bits you missed, so do the wheels again following the instructions for your wheel cleaner. For wheels with lots of spokes, you may find that it's better to turn the wheel in thirds. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is... but it's well worth the effort. Keeping your wheels clean prevents permanent etching and pitting, and as we keep saying, having nice clean shiny wheels adds so much to the appearance of your car.

You will find your wheels much easier to clean if you use a protective wheel sealant like SupaWheels or Inno-X. You will find your wheels much easier to clean next time. They will stay cleaner for longer and remain shiny, enhancing the appearance of your car. These wheel protectors coat your wheels in a corrosive resistant film which actually repels ferrous metal particles contained in brake dust.

A lot of cars come with large 5 spoke alloy wheels that are painted silver front and back. You can see the backs, or insides of the wheels through the holes in the front, but keeping these areas clean is next to impossible. It's best not to clean them at all so that they go black, or you might even wish to take the wheels off and paint the backs with black paint which is what is done by some enthusiasts who show their cars.

If you are going to smoke in your car, use the ash-tray. Don't try and flick your ash out of the window. The wind will blow ash all over the car, not to mention the occasional cigarette end which will cause burns. Most of the odour from smoking comes from the ash. It is easier to get rid of if most of the ash is in one place... ashtrays can be cleaned! But if it's blown all over the back of the car it makes the job much harder.

If you are fussy about having clean glass (and you should be!) Then use Rain-X, RainScreen or a similar product to coat all your glass wear. On the insides it will help prevent misting and stop grime from sticking. Also you should keep an eye on your heater settings. Try to avoid 'circulate' and instead set it for fresh air. This will help avoid a build up of dirty damp air which makes your windows steam up and get grimy.

Carry a box of baby wipes (wet wipes) in the boot of your car. Don't leave them in the sun or they will dry out, but in the boot they will be fine. They are inexpensive and supermarkets often have deals on them. They can be used for wiping bird's mess from the car's paintwork (although we would better recommend Supagard's Bird Lime Neutralizer for this), and for wiping sticky fingers before they get all over the controls and upholstery. They are also great for wiping over the dashboard when it's dusty.

When using a pressure washer, never allow the nozzle to get closer that 4" to the surfact you are cleaning... especially not fabric roofs!
A pressure washer won't get all the dirt off, so you shouldn't even try, instead use it to get the grit off, then use a wash mitt and soapy water to agitate the remaining dirt. Once you have lossened it with the wahs mitt, it should then all blast off with the pressure washer.

If you park your car outside and have a fabric hood, you can only expect it to last 7-10 years, but it will begin to look tatty long before then. If you reproof it (recolour it if it's needed) after 3-4 years, it will probably last 10-12 years. We recommend that you keep an eye on your hood, after it rains it should be damp, not sopping wet. Watch the leading edge above the windscreen as this is always the first area for the proofing to wear out on. Get it re-proofed when it needs it and it will last you many years. Just remember that a replacement hood will cost you £1500-£2500.

If you have a convertibe car, always polish the plastic rear window when you polish your car. It will help protect it, reduce the effect of scratches and UV radiation. Use a product like AutoGlym's Super Resin Polish. Take care to avoid getting it on the fabric hood because it will stain, and only use a soft clean cloth. If you do find that your rear window is getting a bit hard to see through, then don't worry, they can be professionally polished which will improve them greatly.

The impact from flies and insects can score and even chip the paintwork on the front of your car. Waxing the car will help, if you struggle to find the time to wax your car, why not just wax the front? Of course, a paint sealant will mean you won't need to worry about waxing your car or bug impacts!

Cleaning your car is a bit like cleaning your teeth. We hope you clean your teeth at least twice a day, and your car once every couple of weeks. This takes care of the regular maintenance but it isn't enough on it's own. A couple of times a year you will go to the dentist for a good clean and polish. It's the same with your car... you will get stains and build-ups of dirt in hard to reach places which are very difficult to remove with the kind of products you can get at the motor accessory shop. If you can't get your car to a valeters at least once a year, then at least take it to a garage or self-service car wash that has pressure washers so that you can pay special attention to the door shuts and other places that don't get cleaned on a regular wash. Give your car a good birthday, and use all the products you gor for Christmas.

If you have a motorcycle or classic car, if you get caught in the rain, don't hurry to put your car in the garage. The rain may be a bit acid, but it's nowhere as corrosive as the stuff that splashes up from the road. So leave it out in the rain to rinse off, and maybe hose your vehicle down before putting it in the garage.

 


  
This page was last updated on Tue, 3 November, 2009
 
 
 
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