6 Summer Car Cleaning & Detailing Mistakes to Avoid

washing and car cleaning detailing cover image

It’s summer. Birds are chirping, lawns are a well-kept green, and kids are happily out of school. It’s the perfect time of year to have your car looking its best, especially if you might be looking to trade-in or sell it. However, the paint and glass is more delicate than you might think. So if you’re not careful, you could be damaging your car while cleaning or detailing it. Want to make your car look like it was cleaned by a pro or like it’s new? Avoid these common car cleaning/detailing mistakes.

 

1) Using Cleaning Products Not Made for Cars

We’ve all seen those “life hacks and tricks” that say you can use regular old dish soap (amongst other things) to clean your car. Laundry soap, dish soap, and other household cleaners will absolutely clean your car, but at a price. These soaps are too strong for your car’s paint. Household cleaning products and human soaps have a high PH level that will damage your car’s paint. We want to preserve and maintain the protective coating on our car, and these soaps are too abrasive for that.

In the same vein, Windex (or other glass cleaners of that nature) shouldn’t be used, either. These type of glass cleaners have ammonia in them that will leave tough streaks on the car windows and damage tinted applications.

While an easy workaround might be tempting, products made specifically for car cleaning and detailing are the way to go. We want to clean our car, but not to the level of destroying the paint and glass. Our personal favorite car cleaning soaps and shampoos are from Chemical Guys. They even have all-in-one kits that come with everything you need to clean your vehicle safely!

chemical guys car cleaning kit

 

2) Cleaning In Direct Sunlight on a Hot Day

When the movies depict washing a car, they show a beautiful person in a bathing suit on the hottest day of the year spraying soap and water on their car. While it may look good and fun, cleaning in direct sunlight can only make things harder on yourself. We want the car to be continuously wet during the cleaning process. If the sun is beating down on it the whole time, then the water and cleaning products will dry before we want it to, leaving streaks and marks.

Choose to clean your vehicle in a shaded area. If this isn’t possible, you may have to clean during the early morning or at sunset, where the sun may not be as hot. We like the look of the sun shining on a clean car, but only after we’re finished!

cleaned car in sun with drilled and slotted rotors

 

3) Not Cleaning in the Proper Order

You may have heard “clean from the top to the bottom”. This is true, with the exception of wheels. The correct order of events should be wheels first, then top to bottom. Wheels are the dirtiest thing on your vehicle because they are constantly in contact with the street/ground. Dirt and debris gets swept up into them all the time, along with nasty brake dust. Brake dust can be corrosive and damage the clear coating on body paint and rims, so we want to tackle this right away. If you save the wheels for last using the regular top to bottom method, the dirt and brake dust can be sprayed onto freshly cleaned body paint and ruin the whole operation.

Unfortunately, brake dust may be all too familiar to you. Because normal driving uses the brakes so much, nasty dust will continually form on the wheels. Fortunately, there’s a way to prevent it in the first place. Regular-stock brakes use a cheap brake pad compound that leads to a lot of dust. We take brake dust seriously and want to help, though. PowerStop brake pads are made to be easy on the rotors and generate virtually no brake dust while still providing upgraded stopping power. This is all thanks to our exclusive Carbon-Fiber Ceramic formula that is 3rdparty laboratory tested to ensure dust-free performance. Low dust means you get to wash your wheels less, and your rims get a healthier, prolonged lifespan. Check out these before and after shots of this Chevy’s wheels when upgrading to PowerStop pads:

 

Dirty Wheels from brake dust chevy

clean wheels no brake dust powerstop brake pads

 

4) “Cleaning” Shift Knobs, Pedals, and Steering Wheels with Oily Products

Shift Knobs, pedals, and steering wheels can get dirty quickly. Naturally, we want to clean them so they look new. What people sometimes forget, though, is that we touch these components every time we drive. It can be very dangerous in traffic if your foot slips off the brake pedal because it’s slippery from oily cleaning products. This doesn’t mean that you should never clean these components; you should just be careful to use products that aren’t too oily.

 

5) Using the Wrong Type of Towel

Everyone has bath towels, hand towels, and even paper towels lying around the house. Can’t we just use those? No. Mircofiber towels should be the cloth of choice to clean a car, and with good reason. Regular, old towels are not soft enough for the paint of your car no matter how new they are. Microfiber towels are perfect for the job and are affordably cheap in assorted packs.

Pro Tip: We recommend washing microfiber cloths separate from other clothing/towels because it might ruin the threading on the microfiber.

 

6) Not Cleaning Tools Beforehand

You’ve got your microfiber towels, paint-safe car soaps, and buckets all ready to go. It would be a shame if you started cleaning, only to find out the buckets and towels were dirty from the start. You don’t want to be putting more dirt onto your vehicle and in your soaps. Wash your buckets and towels thoroughly beforehand to be safe and get the job done right.

cleaned and detailed Mustang Driving

Cleaning a car is a rewarding experience, and doing it the right way is even better! Have the best looking ride on block by avoiding these mistakes the next time you take the soap and water to your vehicle.

 

If you still want to deal with nasty brake dust every time you clean your vehicle, you might want to give our old friends the Dustburgs a call!



To find the right brake kit for your vehicle: www.powerstop.com
PowerStop brake kit installation videos: Installation Videos
More PowerStop video content: www.youtube.com/user/PowerstopMedia/
For more helpful Tips and How To: www.powerstop.com/info/how-tos/

Remember, Don’t Just Stop…PowerStop!