6 common car-cleaning mistakes people make — and what to do instead

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·5 min read

Spring is finally here — and the change in season is a perfect time to refresh and revitalize your home. From simple home updates that will make a big difference to deep cleaning tips, Everything Awaits you at Canadian Tire.

Photo via Canadian Tire
Photo via Canadian Tire

Keeping your car clean in the winter can often feel like a futile exercise: The sparkle and shine seems to never last and the winter muck can be relentless. But now that spring is in the air, it’s time to peel back the winter grime and let your vehicle shine.

And while it’s technically a chore, if you ask us, spring cleaning a car can actually be very satisfying. There’s just something undeniably gratifying about giving a car ravaged by winter a spring glow up so you can hit the road to experience all the new season has to offer.

That being said, there are ways to clean cars incorrectly, leaving permanent and unsightly damage.

Luckily, we have your back. We’ve rounded up the top 6 spring car cleaning mistakes — and what you should do instead to make sure the job is done right.

Mistake no. 1: Cleaning tires last

Photo via Getty Images
Photo via Getty Images

Logically, this rule of thumb makes complete sense. Your tires are the dirtiest part of a vehicle. Cleaning them last would undo all your hard work as grime bounces back. Don’t make that mistake — and make sure you start at the bottom.

To thoroughly clean your tires, use a specially formulated wheel and rim cleaner and a brush with stiff bristles to scrub. Clean one tire at a time to make sure your lather doesn’t dry out and ensure you give them all a good dry with a microfibre cloth.

Mistake no. 2: Using dish soap or household cleaners

Photo via Canadian Tire
Photo via Canadian Tire

Just because dish detergent works well on flatware doesn’t mean it translates to cleaning the exterior of a car. Never attempt to use any household cleaner on your vehicle, because you risk stripping the finish or permanently damaging the paint.

Instead, employ a soap specifically formulated for cars like the Simoniz Pressure Washer Foam Detergent. Not only will it clean off dirt and debris, but this solution contains ultra rich paint conditioners to bring out the vehicle’s lustre and clarity. If you find it tedious to lather up with a sponge or rag, try the Simoniz Foam Gun, which promises to blanket your vehicle in fluffy foam in record time.

Mistake no. 3: Using any old rag to dry your car

Photo via Canadian Tire
Photo via Canadian Tire

After washing your car, you’re ready to dry. But any old cloth or rag won’t do. Most dish towels will leave lint or debris behind and you certainly don’t want that.

Your best bet is to use a highly absorbent drying towel. The Simoniz Platinum Plush Drying Towel is engineered to pull and trap water from your car’s surface, requiring fewer passes, and leaving your car streak free. These reusable towels can be easily washed and re-used for future use.

Mistake no. 4: Pouring wax directly on your car

Photo via Canadian Tire
Photo via Canadian Tire

Pouring wax directly on your car’s exterior can lead to major problems. Car wax will protect your vehicle from the elements and ultimately prevent fading and discolouration if done right, but too much can make your paint look uneven and be difficult to remove in the future.

Always use the applicator included in the package and make sure to apply wax in small, circular motions. We recommend a product like Meguiar’s Gold Class Liquid Wax, which is easy to use and offers long lasting shine.

Mistake no. 5: Using interior cleaning products that contain bleach

Photo via Getty Images
Photo via Getty Images

Bleach and other harsh cleaning agents should not be a welcome ingredient when it comes to cleaning leather and vinyl interiors. Rather, use a mild soap and a soft cloth for vinyl and a leather cleaner for leather interiors. Apply a dime sized amount of Lexol All Leather Cleaner to a soft cloth and start wiping your surface in circular motions. A good leather cleaner should revive and protect your leather surface. It’s equally important to completely dry and remove excess product with a new cloth so your leather surface doesn’t mould.

Mistake no. 6: Using alcohol-based wipes to clean hard surfaces

Photo via Canadian Tire
Photo via Canadian Tire

By now, you probably know that that harsh chemicals don’t typically fare well when it comes to cleaning your car. You might think it’s harmless to use an alcohol-based wipe (like a Lysol wipe) to clean hard surfaces, but this could leave streaks and discolouration, especially as it reacts with sunlight.

An easy and arguably the best way to clean hard surfaces in your car are with Armor All® Cleaning Wipes. Unlike alcohol wipes, Armor All wipes won’t damage or cause fading and they’re as easy to use as any cleaning wipe.

Another great alternative to an alcohol-based wipe is to use a cleaning product like Adam's Interior Detailer with Microban, which is specifically formulated for vehicles. This product cleans, shines and protects with built-in antimicrobial technology from Microban, which makes it a great solution for high-touch areas like steering wheels, door panels/handles, shifters, touch screens, radios/stereos or cup holders.

Spring is finally here! Canadian Tire and Yahoo Canada are helping Canadians make the most of the season, with lawncare advice, BBQ inspiration and spring cleaning checklists. Click here for more!