Simple steps to a sparkling clean car

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One thing I really don't like is having a dirty car. Yet I'm also not a fan of cleaning it. Could there be a more boring task? But looking after your car in the right way will not only encourage looks of envy from your neighbours, it will also help your vehicle to maintain its value. Although it's tempting to pay a valeter to do the hard work for you, there's absolutely no need to spend a fortune on getting your car to sparkle. Instead, all you need to do is follow these top tips.

Cleaning the interior

It's a good idea to start with the interior first. Clear out the car and remove the floor mats, giving them a wipe down.  Vacuum the seats and carpets, and then use carpet cleaner to remove any stains. If you use the cleaner on the seats, it's a good idea to test an out-of-sight patch first to ensure it doesn't ruin the fabric. Try to avoid using a lot of water – and stick to damp cloths, otherwise it can be difficult to get the fabric dry (especially if you’re going to be driving shortly after!). And if there is any leather or vinyl in the car's interior, make sure you use a special protectant. Dust the dashboard and door panels with a cloth – you can use car wash soap if necessary. If you need to get into air conditioning vents, use a cotton bud or an old toothbrush - or even the aerosol cans of pressurised air that are used to clean computer keyboards if you have one to hand. Clean the interior of the car's windows with window cleaner and kitchen towel. Then replace the car mats and anything else you've removed from the car. Make sure mats are put back properly so they don’t slip while you’re driving.

Cleaning the exterior

Once the interior is clean, you can make a start on the exterior. Make sure all of the windows are fully shut and move your car to a shady spot if it's a sunny day. That way all of your hard work won't result in a streaky exterior. Use a hose to remove any dirt, starting with the roof and moving down to the tyres. Then fill a bucket with warm water and car shampoo and use a sponge or cloth to wipe down the car – again, it's best to start from the top. If you drop your sponge or cloth on the ground, check to ensure no stones have got caught in it which could damage the car's paintwork – when all your efforts would be wasted! Rinse the car off with the hose and then clean your wheels with wheel cleaner – you may find it's best to use a brush if there is any built-up dirt. Use a special alloy wheel cleaner if you have alloys. Then rinse the wheels off with the hose. Dry the car with an old towel or a chamois leather cloth, being careful not to leave any streaks behind – the best way to do this is to work the cloth downwards in a straight line. Clean the windows with paper towels and window cleaner. To make your car ultra shiny, apply car polish to a buffer pad and polish your vehicle. For the perfect finish, apply car wax. After that, your car will be looking as good as new and you can sit back and admire your work! And while it might be painful to contemplate, remember that regular cleaning will stop you having to undertake a massive three-hour blitz every now and again.

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