Spring Clean Your Ford
Would you like three good reasons why you should give your car, truck, or SUV a good spring cleaning? How about these: One, according to researchers at Princeton University, disorganization and visual clutter (like loose wrappers, crumbled Pringles, and dead leaves) distract you and increase your stress level. Two, additional studies have found that a lack of organization can elevate levels of the stress hormone cortisol resulting in feelings of fatigue, tiredness and depression. Those first two deal with your mind, the third your wallet. Three, a
well-maintained vehicle, both mechanically and cosmetically, are worth considerably more at trade-in time than a vehicle that’s been neglected. Here are some of the best car cleaning tips we’ve collected.
Packing for the Adventure
Like any good explorer (especially a Ford Explorer) you need to plan for the tools and supplies you’ll need for your journey to vehicular cleanliness. For cleaning the interior, you’ll need a vacuum cleaner (make sure you bring the crevice attachment), cotton swabs, a plastic and vinyl cleaner, cloth fabric cleaner, leather cleaner, a spot and stain remover, and washable microfiber towels (or paper towels in a pinch). For the exterior you’ll need, at a minimum, a water hose, wash bucket, car wash liquid (and not a liquid detergent or dish cleaner, which can damage the paint and strip away wax), a wash mitt (preferably lambswool), a soft bristle brush, and ammonia-free glass cleaner, along with wax, polishing cloths, and drying towels. You may also need bug and tar remover, an auto-detailing clay bar for removing nasties from your paint, and a wheel cleaner if your vehicle has alloy wheels.
Start from the Inside Out
Attack the interior first, as if you clean it after washing the exterior you may inadvertently track water back inside the car. Start by removing the floor mats and vacuuming them on a clean spot on the driveway. Then vacuum the carpet, the seats, and the dash and rear package shelf. With your narrow crevice attachment, you’ll be able to clean hard-to-reach spots like under and between the seats.
If you have carpet stains, Ford has the answer: the Motorcraft Professional Strength Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, available through Ford of Upland. Just follow the instructions on the can.
Next, turn your attention to the seats themselves. Cloth seats should be cleaned with a dedicated cloth cleaner. Follow the instructions on the package, which basically involves spreading it around with a sponge, and letting it sit. Once dry, vacuum, and clean-up any leftovers with a towel. For leather, use a quality leather cleaner and conditioner. You can purchase these products separately or as an all-in-one. Spread the leather cleaner around the seats to remove stains and grime with a clean towel and light pressure.
Interior trim can be cleaned with a Plastic and Vinyl Cleaner. It usually takes a little cleaner plus a little rubbing to shine most surfaces. Clean those hard-to-reach places like switches, vents, and emblems with Plastic and Vinyl Cleaner applied to a cotton swab.
Time to Head Outside
Here are more car cleaning hacks for the exterior. Your first step should be to carefully inspect all the painted panels on your vehicle and find any trouble spots. These can take the form of bird droppings, tar, and tree sap, as well as scratches, swirls, and chips. Apply a Bug and Tar Remover on hardened tar or bugs before washing.
Park your vehicle in a spot that will remain shady for the entire process. Once parked, wash it with a bucket car wash mixed with water and a lambswool wash mitt. Always wash from the top of the vehicle down. Use the soft bristle brush to clean the wheels and tires.
Immediately rinse the vehicle by flooding it with a garden hose from the top down, which draws the water off in large sheets. Hopefully your vehicle is still in the shade, if not move it quickly to a shady place before it dries and water spots form. Dry the vehicle from the top down using the microfiber drying towels. Paper towels and cotton towels can leave lint behind. Dry the windows first, then move on to the paint.
Now run your hand over the painted surfaces. If you feel little bumps, it’s time to break out the Auto Detailing Clay. Use the clay with a spray detailer to keep is lubricated and work on one panel at a time until the surface is smooth. Now it’s time to apply the wax. Wax is there not just to make your vehicle shiny, but to protect the painted surfaces.
If your paint has lots of swirls and scratches, it will need a multistage application of scratch remover, cleaners, and a glaze, in addition to wax. If your paint is new or in good shape, you’ll need only wax.
Put a small amount of wax onto a foam applicator pad and start on a top panel like the roof or hood, using a circular motion to apply the wax to a couple of panels at a time. Dried wax should show only a light haze; bright white means you’re using too much wax.
Remove the dried wax using microfiber cloths making sure to turn the cloths over often. When you are done, use a fresh cloth to do a final pass over the paint, and remove any wax trapped in tight areas like between body panels.
Clean your exterior and interior windows and mirrors by spraying an ammonia-free cleaner onto a microfiber cloth. Ammonia-free cleaners won’t streak, won’t damage window tint, won’t damage your interior should you overspray and don’t have an overpowering odor.
That’s it. You’re done. Not only have you taken good care of your car but you’ll find a clean car more pleasurable to drive. Congratulations on taking the right steps to getting the highest return on your vehicle at trade in time.