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Your spring cleaning checklist

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 10-30 minutes
How often: When needed

Extreme weather can take its toll on your car’s inside, outside and undercarriage. In some areas of the country, winter can be particularly rough on vehicles; snow and ice can leave dents and road salt can eat away at the body. Use this spring cleaning checklist to help restore your car to its previous lustre.

1. Start from the Bottom

The first step in freshening up your car for the warm weather is to remove salt from the underside of your vehicle. There are two easy ways to do this:

  • Connect a garden hose to a spigot; drag the hose out to your car and reach directly underneath to wash out every exposed area.
  • If the do-it-yourself method sounds unappealing, take your car to a brushless car wash—specifically one that includes an undercarriage wash.

2. Wash and Wax Your Car

If you decide to wash the car yourself, choose a liquid or a powder cleaner for the body. If there are tar or other stains on the finish, a stronger formula designed to protect the finish and remove stubborn spots will be necessary. Stay away from abrasives that can scratch the paint, like steel wool. Once your car is dry, apply wax. A synthetic polymer-based wax yields longer-lasting protection.

3. Check Your Tires

The third step on the spring cleaning checklist is specific to tires and wheels. Because standard car wash cleaners will not get your tires sufficiently clean, use a dedicated tire and wheel cleaner.

Liberally apply tire-cleaner to the outer surface, then use a tire brush to vigorously scrub back and forth. When done, apply the cleaner to the wheels, allow the solution to set for a minute, and then use a clean paintbrush to gently remove any debris. Next, rinse the wheel and tire with a hose. Dry both with a microfibre towel.

4. Replace the Wiper Blades

The beginning of spring is a great time to replace wiper blades, especially if the rubber has cracked or is torn. Generally, wiper blades last about six months, so replacing them once in the spring and again in the fall is recommended.

Whenever you notice streaking or skipping on the windshield, it’s time to swap out your blades. Use any standard window solution to clean the inside of your front and rear windows—there may be more dirt blocking your vision than you realize.

5. Clean the Interior

Use a special foam cleaner for cloth seats and leather cleaner elsewhere.

The same salt and grime that attacked your car’s exterior during the colder months probably found its way inside of your vehicle. Your car’s interior may also have a fair share of food crumbs, stains and sticky messes that need to be addressed.

Use a shop vacuum to remove any large crumbs or dirt from between the seats. Then, you can use a foaming fabric and upholstery cleaner for cloth seats, spot-lifter or stain-remover products for carpeting and Armour All for any sensitive surfaces.

When it comes to leather and unusual woods, your best bet is to familiarize yourself with your owner’s manual and determine what cleansers are permissible. For many leathers, any high-UV leather conditioner that is pH-balanced and contains stain repellents and waterproofing agents should be sufficient. For any wood-grain surfaces select a product that is formulated specifically to clean the type of wood in your vehicle.

Ready for spring

With your spring cleaning checklist accomplished, you are ready to enjoy the season ahead. Regular cleaning throughout the year can keep your car looking showroom-new any day of the week.