Thanks to Ontario (and for the most part all of Canada) for our sometime dreaded, unique climate mix that freezes our cars in winter and bakes them in the summer. Ontario vehicles tend to suffer a host of hazards that’d terrify even the most professional detailer.
Ontario winters can really assault our cars with serious amounts of salt and sand. This takes a toll on the exterior of our vehicles, and it can even make it to the interior because of all the slush and ice we can’t seem to shake off our boots. That’s not to mention the wear and tear caused by spilling a bit of that double-double on the dashboard during the morning rush, or the kids’ snack crumbs that find their way into just about every crevice of the back seat.
You may have thought Spring cleaning was all about decluttering your home – but it should be about your car too! Now’s a great time to evacuate all of winter’s debris. The best way to combat permanent damage is through regular cleaning and detailing, of course. If schedules were jam-packed during the snowy months and you didn’t have a chance to pull out the hand vac (nor did you have the desire to weather the freezing cold) – We’ve got you covered with some tips that’ll get your ride shining in no time.
How to give your car a proper wash
Take care of the essentials first by giving your car a good wash to rid it of the salt, sand and grime. Head to your favourite automotive department and pick up a couple of wash mitts, soft-material towels, proper car wash soap (dish liquid will harm a car’s paint), and a few drying cloths.
When washing, it’s a good idea to use what’s called the “2 Bucket Method”. What’s that? Well, one bucket contains the soap and water mixture while the other is used just for rinsing the wash mitt. This way, there is little chance of picking up stray dirt on the wash mitt as might happen if the same bucket is used to both apply soapy water to the mitt and rinse the mitt after washing a body panel.
For an extra dose of paint protection, invest in a plastic guard which fits into the bucket, allowing the dirt thrust into the bucket during a rinse to sink to the bottom and stay there, out of reach. A good quality microfibre wash mitt is key to avoid damaging the paint on a car.
Invest in quality automotive specific products
Cleaning tools such as wash mitts, sponges, and towels should be made of soft materials that will not scratch the paint or other surfaces. When using them, be absolutely certain all these products are free of dirt and grit.
Don’t forget the interior
Can you see your reflection in the car’s paint yet? Good, because now it’s time to turn your attention to the car’s interior. Vacuuming and glass cleaning might sound like blindingly obvious tasks but they will keep winter’s damage at bay, even if your car hasn’t seen a vacuum since Halloween. Be sure to use a good quality wet/dry vacuum to get rid of all the dirt and debris from the carpets and seating surfaces.
Picking up a can of cleaner especially formulated for your car’s cloth or leather seats will go a long way to rejuvenating a winter-worn interior.
Pro tip: be sure to test any interior cleaners in an inconspicuous area before applying it liberally to make sure the product doesn’t strip the fabric of its colour.
Use a soft cloth and appropriate cleaner (water works well in a pinch) to wipe grime from the dashboard. Don’t throw out those old toothbrushes – they’re perfect for digging crumbs out of the cup holders and cubbies. Protect your ride going forward with a good set of rubber mats that will trap dirt and snowy slush before it even has a chance to reach the carpet.
Doing a thorough job of cleaning your car can be time consuming but the rewards are great. Whether you’re a gearhead or not, spring cleaning your car will exercise winter’s grit and maybe even boost its resale value a bit at trade-in time. For us misty-eyed gearheads, it’s the equivalent of treating a loved one to a day at the spa.