ASUSSIES spend more than $500 million a year to keep their cars sparkling clean.
The car wash industry is thriving, with almost 2,500 businesses employing about 5,000 people by the end of 2014 – and revenues growing steadily every year.
Then there’s the army of franchises offering onsite car cleaning and detailing services for busy people who don’t have time to schedule a visit to the car wash, or would prefer to be with their families at weekends than scrubbing their car on the front lawn.
A population spike and higher disposable incomes driven by the resources boom saw the number of cars on our roads grow by more than three million in the past decade.
Now, with more people owning newer cars, car cleaning is more popular than ever.
But if you are one of the thousands of thrifty car owners who saves money by washing their car at home, here are our top 10 tips to get the best results.
- Use two buckets: Use one bucket with water and suds and fill another with fresh water to rinse the sponge or cloth as you go. This reduces the amount of dirt that builds up on the sponge and scratches the car.
- Don’t use dishwashing liquid: These will strip the car of polymers that protect the outside from rust.
- Park in the shade and wait for the engine to cool down: This reduces the chance of soap drying and creating water spots before rinsing and wiping.
- Hose it down before washing: This has the dual benefit of cooling the surface before cleaning and removing any loose dirt that could scratch the paint.
- Pressure wash around the wheels and undercarriage: Removing mud from underneath the car and around the wheels prevents it from spreading the moment you drive off after washing the car.
- Wash from the top down: Clean one panel at a time and rinse as you go.
- Extra focus on the front panels: This is where insects, road grime, paint chips and scratches appear the most. Cleaning it off before it damages the paintwork is vital.
- Dry with a soft cloth: Don’t leave the car wet. Use a microfiber cloth, towel or a good chamois to finish the job.
- Look after the paint work: Use a chemical cleaner wax to remove anything that is stuck to the paintwork. Most modern cars have clear coat paint, so don’t use abrasive cutting compounds that remove the top layer of paint from cars.
- Finish off with a polish and wax: No, they’re not the same. A good wax cleans the paint and smooths the surface before waxing. Waxing protects the finish but won’t make a dull surface shiny.
To make life easier between car washes and cleans, here are some quick tips to reduce your work.
- Don’t eat in your car: Avoids litter from wrappers etc, crumbs and spillages.
- Wax it regularly: Makes it easier to wash next time.
- Wipe your feet and knock your shoes together before getting in the car – particularly when it’s wet and slushy. Keeps the footwells clean and dry.
- Clean up quickly: Spills, crumbs and dirt are harder to remove the longer you leave them.
- Park the car out of the weather: Bird mess, dust, dirt, rain, hail all make your car dirty or damage the paintwork.
- Keep tidy bags in the car: If you have kids in the back, hang a bag on the back of the front seats. This keeps rubbish from under the seats and places that are hard to reach.