How to clean your car

Whether you’re aiming to hang onto your car or sell it, you could make some major financial gains simply by keeping it clean.

Don’t believe us? Then consider this: if you’ve got a car worth £1500 or so, you could easily increase its value to over two grand just by giving it a decent spruce up. You could do the work yourself or for less than £100 you could have it professionally valeted. But why pay somebody else to do the work when you could do it yourself for just the price of a few potions. 

You should keep your car clean all year round, as it’ll help protect the paintwork

We took a Mini to top valeter Karl Heath for him to work his magic; the brief was to make the car look like new. Karl comments: “We once took a £375 BMW and transformed it into a car worth over £2000, simply by giving it a really good clean inside and out as well as under the bonnet. We did it using only products that anybody can buy over the counter and the whole job took just a day. I can’t think of many ways to use a day more profitably!”

You should keep your car clean all year round, as it’ll help protect the paintwork. But in winter, cleanliness is especially important. Thousands of tons of salt are deposited on our roads when the temperatures plummet, and this does its best to dissolve your car’s bodywork. To keep your car in tip-top condition, follow these simple steps: 

On the outside

  • Wash your car’s underside and wheelarches with a pressure hose.
  • Rinse the bodywork with a hose or pressure washer, to remove loose dirt that could scratch the paint.
  • Dip a cloth or sponge into a bucket of soapy water and use it to clean down the car – don’t use washing up liquid as this is salty and can harm paintwork. Start at the top and work down. If you drop the cloth/sponge, give it a good rinse as it’s likely to have picked up a stone that could damage the paintwork.
  • Use the hose to rinse off the car, again starting from the top and working down.
  • Next, clean your wheels. If you have alloys, make sure you use proper alloy wheel cleaner created to look after the lacquered finish. Use a brush to remove any built-up dirt, then finish off with a cloth. Rinse the wheels using a hose or pressure washer.
  • Dry off the car using a chamois leather, so you don’t end up with a streaked finish.
  • Finish off by polishing and/or waxing the paintwork – this will help to protect the paintwork by helping to prevent water and dirt from sticking to it.

Inside job

  • Empty out any rubbish that's accumulated in your car, then remove the car mats and give them a clean.
  • Vacuum the seats and floor, making sure you get into the cracks where dirt accumulates out of sight.
  • Clean the inside of your windows using a decent glass cleaner – you’ll appreciate the value of this when you’re driving into the sun.
  • Wipe all interior surfaces such as the dashboard, steering wheel and window trims with a trim cleaner and a damp cloth, then dry.

Top tip

Keep an eye on our competition pages, where we often give away top-quality cleaning packs.