Keeping a car clean during the winter months might seem like an impossibility at times, and there can be the temptation to not bother giving your car a scrub until the temperatures start to warm up.
But colder weather means gritted roads, and you don’t want to leave this salt on your car for some time as it can lead to corrosion over the years.
So if you’re looking to keep your car in the best state over winter, here are the tips we recommend following.
Get a pressure washer
While you might think a hose will do the job to clean the car, if you’re able to, we recommend getting a pressure washer as these are able to offer more power when cleaning – especially when it comes to areas such as the wheelarches.Good pressure washers are available for under £100, and while this might seem a bit pricey at first, you’ll soon find they come in handy for all sorts of tasks.
The importance of a pre-wash
Giving your car a pre-wash is important at the best of times, but even more so in winter. Essentially, before you actually ‘touch’ the car, it’s important to get as much of that dirt off as possible.There are various ways you can do this – including using snowfoam, which helps to loosen dirt. But our chosen method is using what’s known as an all-purpose cleaner or citrus cleaner. It’s best to wet the car beforehand before spraying these cleaners on, which can usually be heavily diluted and still pack impressive cleaning power. Always check the instructions and dilution ratios before using.
Leave the cleaner on the vehicle for around five minutes before pressure washing the dirt off – you’ll be surprised by how much it removes.
Use two buckets and a dedicated car shampoo
While it can be tempting to grab the mop bucket and fill it with washing up liquid, this couldn’t be further from what we recommend.
Washing up liquid contains ingredients that are designed to strip grease from pots and pans, but on a car’s paint this can degrade the finish if used on a regular basis. For that reason, a dedicated car shampoo can be used, and good products can be picked up for as little as a fiver.
Following this, we recommend using two buckets – one containing the car shampoo mixture and the second nothing but clean water. We’ll explain why shortly.
No more sponges, use a wash mitt instead
For years a sponge has been thought of as the ultimate tool for cleaning a car, but these can actually cause damage to your car.
Even after a pre-wash there will still be dirt on your car, and as you clean your car, with a sponge the dirt particles have nowhere to go, so essentially you’ll be rubbing grit around it, which could cause marks to be inflicted. Instead, you should use a deep pile wash mitt, which helps to sort the issue.
The process goes, dunk the mitt in the car shampoo bucket, clean the area you’re doing, then put in the clean water bucket, rinse, and then repeat.
Clean top to bottom
Another important thing to remember when cleaning your car is the method. While it can be tempting to just rub it around in circles, this can cause what’s known as swirls, which ruin the way your car looks.
Instead, you should clean in straight lines, whether that’s up and down or side to side. You should also work from top to bottom – the roof and bonnet of your car being far less likely to have dirt on them than the lower panels. Once you’ve cleaned all panels you should rinse the vehicle thoroughly.
Dry off the car
Once you’ve rinsed off your car it can be tempting to just leave it, but we always recommend drying off your vehicle. Use a microfibre towel for this, which is able to soak up an impressive amount of water.If you just leave the water on your car and don’t dry it, it can leave water spots and also make it look a smeary mess.
Lay down some protection
Especially in winter, it’s important to lay down some protection on your car, which will help to repel any dirt and also make future washing cleaner.
While you can use a dedicated spray wax or paste wax for this, one of the quickest ways of doing this is to use a spray wax that you apply while the vehicle is wet (and before you’ve dried it). Spray this on the clean wet panels, before rinsing off straight away – you’ll immediately be able to tell the difference.