Kia car at home cleaning tips

At-home car cleaning in 5 easy steps

Clean your car with great results without damaging your paintwork

At-home car cleaning in 5 easy steps is a follow-up to our at-home car maintenance tips.

It’s fair to say that many of our customers are using their cars less than usual. As a consequence, many are parked outside for long periods of time. Dust, pollen, bird dropping, tree sap and pollutants can quickly build up making your pride and joy look less than perfect.

Cleaning your car makes it look great, but also protects components and paintwork when done correctly. You’ll need to use the right equipment, car-specific cleaning products and to follow a few basic steps. So here’s our handy guide to cleaning your car at home for sparkling results in 5 easy steps.

What you'll need to clean your car:

✔️ Car-specific shampoo
✔️ Two big buckets of clean warm water for the main wash – one for the car shampoo and one clean water
✔️ A big clean sponge
✔️ Alloy car wheel cleaning product and a clean soft-bristle brush
✔️ A garden hose or big bucket of cold water for cleaning
✔️ A large microfiber cloth or auto drying towel for drying
✔️ Rubber gloves and suitable clothing

At-home car cleaning prep

When you want the best results, choose a day to clean your car when it’s not raining or not too hot and sunny. Especially on warm days, surfaces can quickly dry out when you need them to be wet. You don’t want a mix of pre-cleaning products or car shampoo and dirt getting dried on. If possible move your car to a place in the shade and starting your clean during the coolest part of the day.

The ideal place to clean your car is a clean, level tarmac surface where dust and dirt is not going to blow about and get straight back on and spoil your shiny finish.

So now we’re ready to get cleaning.

Step 1: Bird droppings – removing them safely

When we were driving regularly there was a good chance that we would spot offending bird droppings on the paintwork and quickly take swift action to clean them off. But now many of our customer’s cars are parked outside for extended periods, and we’re being contacted regularly for advice on cleaning bird droppings.

If you find this is a problem for you, try to avoid leaving your car in areas that seem to attract bird mess:

• Under trees • Under streetlights • Under the eaves of buildings

Bird droppings are acidic and can potentially damage paintwork. And when they are dried on, they can cause micro-scratches if simply wiped or scrubbed off.

The most important thing to remember when removing bird droppings is to use water to soften and dissolve the mess. To do this place a big sponge or clean heavy cloth soaked in water on the droppings and leave it for several minutes.

Avoid pressing hard, rubbing or scrapping to dislodge the droppings. It should rinse away quite easily, but if not, repeat the process until all of the droppings disappear.

Step 2: Pre-clean - softening the dirt on the car

This is not as easy as it sounds, particularly to avoid damaging paintwork. Accumulated dirt – even fine particles, can very easily cause scratches and so need careful removal.

First remove any leaves or bigger debris from the roof, bonnet, windscreen and vents by hand. It’s advisable to wear rubber or disposable gloves when cleaning your car to protect your hands.

If you haven’t washed your car in a while, it’s a good idea to soak the bodywork with a garden hose or buckets of clean cold water before going in for the big clean.

Next, it’s the main wash.

We recommend using a car-specific shampoo diluted in lukewarm water in one of your buckets. Never use ordinary washing up liquid for this as it can damage the wax coating on your paintwork. You can find a useful guide on the best car shampoo here.

Use a sponge to cover the car in the foamy water, being careful not to apply any pressure to the car’s surface. Start at the top and work in straight lines along the length of the car moving down with each passage. Rinse your sponge in the other bucket containing clean water, so you don’t add dirt to the shampoo mixture.

The car shampoo has a special detergent to soften the dirt, so you’ll need to leave it on the car to react for a few minutes. Working your way around the car quickly should be enough time for this to happen.

Step 3: Cleaning the wheels

Wheels can accumulate dirt and corrosive brake dust. Alloy wheels in particular often have hard to reach areas that can harbour mud, salt or other deposits that can damage the surface.

Start by soaking the wheels in water with clean water. For best results, we recommend then applying a special alloy car wheel cleaning product that is specially designed to safely break down dirt on the aluminium surface.

When the product has had time to react, brush the wheels with a clean soft-bristle brush and warm water. When all the dirt is gone, rinse with clean cold water. To avoid watermarks, take a clean microfiber cloth and gently dry the surface.

Step 4: Clean the car - washing off the dissolved dirt

Hopefully the foamy car shampoo will have transformed dried on dirt to a more liquid form. Now it’s time to clean off the car with cold water, preferably with a garden hose.

Start at the top of the car and work along the length, making sure there’s no shampoo foam left on the surface. You can also use a pressure washer – but avoid going too close to the paint surface with the spray nozzle.

Your car will already be looking much brighter, but you’re not quite finished yet.

Step 5: Drying the car - avoiding watermarks and streaks

In many areas, hard water can leave annoying marks on paintwork when dry. That’s why it’s a good idea to dry your car after washing. If the air temperature is not too high and you’re in the shade, drying becomes easier before any surface water evaporates.

You’ll need to use a big, super absorbent microfiber cloth or special car drying towel for this. Simply place the cloth on the bodywork, gently pat and then lift off.

The most important thing here is to avoid scratching the paint finish by rubbing, wiping or using any swirling motions.

There are plenty of wax and polishing products available that can be applied to bodywork after cleaning your car. Our advice would be to leave waxing and polishing to professionals with specialist skills and experience.

Finishing products often contain mild abrasives designed to remove existing surface wax and damage the paint if not used correctly with appropriate equipment.

Summary and takeaway tips:

1️⃣ Pick a good day, time and place
2️⃣ Make sure you have everything you need before starting
3️⃣ Let the products do the cleaning
4️⃣ Avoid any hard pressure or circular motion
5️⃣ Dry the car by hand

Your car will be bright and clean, and you’re ready to admire the results of your hard work!

Home car cleaning tips from Brayley Kia service team

For more information and advice on keeping your car clean, our service team is here to help