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Old 8th June 2015, 19:24   #1
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Default Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Broadly, you have two options to keep your ride clean & shiny.

1. Develop OCD, go through the 600 page (& counting) thread on Team-BHP, follow the steps listed and carry them out to the T - Detailing Guide. It's not for everyone though. We even have a humorous take on that thread - link .


On this thread, let's KISS (keep it simple, stupid). Please discuss only basic best practices here. If you're looking for advanced detailing, do visit the other thread instead.

2. Get 95% of the results by following some simple practices. For those of us who are pressed for time or own multiple cars, the advanced detailing thread is impractical. Personally, I'd rather spend my time driving, and leave the cleaning to others. I'm going to list ONLY 10 easy steps here that will get you the desired results at a fraction of the effort. If the advanced thread left you confused, then this article is for you.

Best practices to keeping your ride clean & shiny

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• Park your car nicely. Not everyone has the luxury of a covered garage, but even on public roads, you can pick a spot that is shaded (continuous sunlight is harmful), away from crow-infested trees (to avoid poop on your car) and safe (people not messing with it, no wannabe cricketers around, no couples using it as their love spot). Cost = zero, benefits = innumerable.

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• Use a car cover to protect the body from the elements. It takes less than a minute to put on or take off. I can't stress enough on the advantages of one. A cover greatly helps in protecting your paint. Get one built of tyvek material; Dupont (preferred) & Polco are both good. Related thread. Cost = Starting at Rs. 2,000.

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• Use only a microfiber cloth to wash your car. It's cheap (Rs. 150 - 200 each) and has many advantages (soft, non-abrasive, deeper cleaning, absorbent). It's a no-brainer, there is no reason for you not to use a microfiber cloth. Throw away whatever rag you currently have and buy some microfiber pieces online (3M or Meguiars are recommended). Buy at least 3 of them in different colours; one each for the exterior, interior & drying. Yes, you absolutely need a separate cloth for drying, it helps in preventing swirl marks. Give some basic training to your domestic help / car wash guy / driver. A 'tip' to pay special attention to your car goes a long way. Remember to tell him to properly clean your rims & tyres (regular cloth here is okay) and NOT to rub your car with a cloth when dry (it'll cause scratches). Also, don't wash the car when it's hot / under the blazing afternoon sun.

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• Wash your car only as much as required. Not excessive, and certainly not lesser than necessary. Some of my cars are washed merely once or twice a week.

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• Park a Jopasu duster in your trunk. Use it to remove the usual dust from daily drives. IMP: Only a light hand to wipe the dust off is required (don't press it hard against the body). Cost = About Rs. 600.

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• Whenever you're back from a long road-trip, or the car has gotten particularly dirty, get her washed at the local petrol-pump (Rs. 100 - 200). Tell him to use your microfiber cloth . It would be a good idea to get a professional wash at a detailing outlet once in a while too (costs merely 450 bucks).

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• Have your car detailed inside out by a professional once in 6 / 9 / 12 months (depending on the usage). Some of my cars are detailed every 6 months, others once a year. Periodic detailing will significantly contribute to keeping your car shiny, and it'll also remove / conceal scratches to a great extent. Additionally, get the synthetic paint sealant (protection) that all reputable detailers offer. Tip: Don't fall for upselling tricks. Other than interior & exterior detailing and the paint sealant protection, you don't need anything else. Cost = Rs. 3,500 - 10,000.

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• Don't eat in your car & don't treat the interiors or boot like an attic. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. While on it, remember to clean the boot (and bonnet area) ever so often. This was my interior after 60,000 kms.

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• Understand a couple of basics. That is, how to remove bird droppings (don't let them stay for too long), removing tar & other marks etc. We have dedicated threads on Team-BHP for each problem. Search!

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• Get damaged panels repaired at the earliest. Exposed panels will rust, and the rust will spread. At the very minimum, get all visible body damage taken care of whenever you send the car for its scheduled service visits. A dent-less machine looks beautiful.

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That's it...as simple as that! Enjoy your gleaming car.

Tips Credit: Team-BHP Mods who recently gave me this advice! Picture Credit: All BHPians who clicked them (sourced from various threads).

Last edited by GTO : 13th June 2015 at 09:40. Reason: Typo
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Old 8th June 2015, 19:25   #2
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Optional Stuff - Unlike the previous post with absolute requirements, nothing below is mandatory. It's up to you to follow or disregard these points.

• Remember I told you to use a separate cloth for drying? There are some that make the job easier. E.g. The Meguiars water magnet or Viking drying towel.

• Beige interiors driving you up the wall? Yeah, they soil easier than grey / black interiors. An all-purpose cleaner like the Sonus all-in-1 can give exceptional results. Meguiar's interior wipes also come recommended.

• You can use a car shampoo once a month, if you like. Personally, I'd rather take my car to a detailer for a professional wash instead.

• Shortage of water? Don't sweat. Use a waterless wash (Optimum No Rinse, Ultima, Proklear), although some people are of the firm opinion that a water wash is always better than waterless.

• Consider the annual packages that most detailing shops offer. They might work out cheaper (many have detailing + washing packages) and you get priority appointments too.

Related Article:

Keeping your car tight!

Last edited by GTO : 9th June 2015 at 14:50.
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Old 8th June 2015, 20:10   #3
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Nice thread. Thank you for putting it up. My first 3 cars were pre-owned and had already lost the shine and newness. And I knew nothing about detailing.

When I bought my Vento-New and shiny black-A maintenance nightmare. Thats when I came to know about detailing. Tried following the detailing thread and got lost in the 'details' .

Then took some calls based on what ever reading I had done and some advice from experts. Looks like I did a good job since a lot of my decisions are in line with what is mentioned in this thread.
  • Park in a covered area
  • Wash it only as needed (Once or max twice a week)
  • Keep microfiber cloth handy
  • Wipe the daily dust using a Jopasu duster.
  • Get it professionally detailed (Did it after 16 months)
  • Very particular of the interiors.

What I need to do
  • A professional wash once in a while
  • Ensure my local wash guy does not wash it after I return from a long trip. On Several occasions, by the time I go out the day after I reach, the damage would have been done and the car would have been washed.
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Old 8th June 2015, 20:12   #4
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

This is a lovely thread. Not specific to detailing and neither particular of a single aspect. Just hints on what all we could do to keep the car look neat and clean.

Here are a few things that I would add (few may sound repetitive):
  • Headlight and Tail lamp clusters are as important as your car's Body - Always keep washing them regularly or at least spray colin and wipe them clean to keep these shining for years - There are a lot of brushes available that can help you reach some of the toughest areas to clean these

  • Be wary of hard water marks - They can make your car's glass panels look dull due to spots. Wipe them first before you start wiping the car's body. There is nothing like a clean looking, spotless shining glass that complements the overall looks of the car

  • Do not ignore unimportant areas like - Chrome Badges, Grilles, Fog lamp cladding, Wiper arms, Plastics around Mirrors & Wipers, Door Handles - These can get dull if not attended on regular basis and might make your entire car look dull too!

  • Use additional material over OE Floor mats during rainy season - This will keep the floor mats clean and you may not have to wash that quite often

  • Keep a bottle of Sanitizer in your car, always - Opening the bonnet/Touching jack and tools, removing wheels - A Sanitizer comes handy to clean your hands of grease/dirt and further ensures that the steering, gear knob, grab handles, levers remain clean

  • Avoid driving with windows down unless its very early morning and air is not dusty or its raining and you want to enjoy the cool breeze

  • Avoid getting your car washed by that friendly He-man who uses a bucket and a single cloth to do the entire job for more than 10 cars - Swirl-marks guaranteed!

  • Be finicky about cleanliness - Although you may be referred as a victim of OCD, its always good when someone with a similar wavelength gets in and says "Woah, you have kept your car super clean"

  • Wash your car only when absolutely necessary and not very frequently. A simple wash with just water is also more than good most of the times. Do pay attention to dirt on the underbody and get it attended by pressure wash on a regular basis.

Last edited by paragsachania : 8th June 2015 at 20:42. Reason: Small correction
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Old 8th June 2015, 20:42   #5
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Keep a small bottle sprayer filled with quick detailer and a microfiber towel or two in your car at all times. It will help to remove the bird droppings and other similar materials before they etch onto the paint surface. Always remove the dust on your car before putting on the car cover to prevent unnecessary scratches and swirls. Also use a waterless wash or rinseless wash and wax to make the car clean and shiny quickly once a week or two instead of making it a messy affair with buckets, water and all.
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Old 8th June 2015, 20:49   #6
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

To add to what @GTO said, when you are back from a long drive, dont be lazy to not carry out that first level of interior cleaning, before your next day's drive to office.

This involves:

- Clean up all toll-tickets
- Put back the charging wires for phone/GPS into their respective places
- Collect all eatables and wastes and clean it up (Its always not possible to tell people to not eat in the car, especially when there are kids in the car)
- First order sand in the mats

This really helps, if you are not planning to take the car to the local cleaning shop immediately.

I always follow this as a rule.

Last edited by ampere : 9th June 2015 at 10:52.
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Old 8th June 2015, 21:34   #7
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Great tips, all of them, specially about parking. That itself can save people from the pain of bird droppings and tree sap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
• Don't eat in your car
You don't have kids, do you?
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Old 9th June 2015, 10:41   #8
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

NIce thread, However, cannot but suggest, a human and human values are more important than the car. I clean my car myself, saying that, I do not prohibit people from eating or spilling stuff. I mean when we travel as a family together there is bound to be a mess. Clean it and carry on.

Finicky about cleanliness can spoil the travel, because rather than enjoying the journey you will be counting the dirt.

Dont be finicky, Our rides are supposed to be a part of us and let other enjoy it.

My humble 2 cents.
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Old 9th June 2015, 10:52   #9
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Beige interiors driving you up the wall? Yeah, they soil easier than grey / black interiors. An all-purpose cleaner like the Sonus all-in-1 (exceptional results) or Meguiar's all-purpose-cleaner work really well. Meguiar's interior wipes also come recommended.
Meguiar's All Purpose Cleaner is a product only for Professionals. It comes in a concentrate form, if it is not diluted in appropriate proportions, it will stain/bleach plastic trim and fabric seats. It must be used while wearing gloves/face mask and other protective clothing, which I guess most people will not be having with them.

Not recommended for novices. Better stick to readily available/made for purpose interior cleaners.
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Old 9th June 2015, 10:59   #10
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Thanks a tone for the thread, GTO! Its gonna be a *VERY* useful one for everyone. After looking at the original detailing thread, I had felt the need for something like this thread - and you have come up with it

A Quick question to the experts - what is the difference between paint sealant & teflon? Team BHP doesn't recommend Teflon coating, while it recommends paint sealant, hence the doubt. Ideally when should one go for a paint sealant treatment? Is it recommended for brand new cars?
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Old 9th June 2015, 11:28   #11
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Apart from washing my car twice a week, I myself polish my car once every two months.
I use Amway Silicon Glaze for this purpose (no marketing intended).

Rules:

1) Polish after your car is washed and dried.

2) Use separate (read 2) micro fiber clothes for applying the emulsion and polishing the car.

3) Polish your car preferably during evening when the sun is down. Why? a) The polish is effective away from direct sunlight and b) It is less tiring for your body.

4) Apply the Silicon Glaze on your car with the help of the first micro fiber cloth and leave your car for approx 15-20 minutes. After that interval, use the other Micro Fiber cloth to polish the car in circular motion.

Advantages:

1) The Silicon acts as a protective layer. It prevents the dust and grease to stick to the paint.

2) Water molecules don't stick to the surface but are glided off, thanks again to silicon.

3) Gives the car a silky feel.

4) It prevents any white colored car from gaining a yellowish tinge overtime.

Last edited by gearhead_mait : 9th June 2015 at 11:29.
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Old 9th June 2015, 11:33   #12
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Quote:
Originally Posted by paragsachania View Post
[*]Keep a bottle of Sanitizer in your car, always - Opening the bonnet/Touching jack and tools, removing wheels - A Sanitizer comes handy to clean your hands of grease/dirt and further ensures that the steering, gear knob, grab handles, levers remain clean
[/list]
Great tip. Will keep that too in the car.
I currently keep a small bottle of hand wash and three 2L bottles of soft water for washing hands and wiping off bird-droppings ASAP.
They also came in handy when I had a flat tire and had to swap on my way to office.
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Old 9th June 2015, 11:56   #13
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Thanks for the piece of advice, goes a long way when it is precise and concise. A lot of details confuse me and this is just about right amount of information a newbie can take on and really use it to keep his/her car clean.

Some of the points mentioned make so much sense now after owning the car for more than a year and seeing the issues highlighted like leaving poop too long and using a cloth which leaves all the swirl marks.

Last edited by GTO : 9th June 2015 at 14:53. Reason: Language
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Old 9th June 2015, 12:01   #14
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitoj View Post
Great tips, all of them, specially about parking. That itself can save people from the pain of bird droppings and tree sap.



You don't have kids, do you?
I was just about write that. Kids in the car means food is inevitable. One point though , post a long drive a thorough interior clean up is necessary.
One more thing is when in the city roll up your windows. In my previous car I used to not use the a/c and would keep my window rolled down. This would cause a blackish film on the interior which would not go inspite of me having a gray interior. My current car has a dark biege but since the windows are mostly rolled up always it has remained fairly clean.
This is especially important since all major car variants have a light beige default option to create a feeling of space. This is a like a dirt magnet and any obvious stains are very very visible.
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Old 9th June 2015, 12:08   #15
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Default Re: Simplified: The Idiot's Guide to keeping your car clean & shiny

Very nice thread, keeping it simple for the lazier ones like me. I don't wash my car myself, but get it washed at a dedicated place every week or so, depending on how dirty she gets. The interiors are cleaned less often, as they don't get that dirty.

One thing that I follow for the interiors is 100% use of AC. I keep the windows up to prevent the roof from becoming saturated with the dirt and pollution from the air in the city. I relax the rule a bit on the highway, if away from the city, or if it has just rained heavily (risky in the city because of other vehicles splashing puddles into the car).

The pending item is the car paint sealant. I've heard 3M has a brilliant product, but that it is very expensive. Haven't checked to be honest, need to follow up!
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