How to get the best clean and detail on your car or van

Whether your vehicle wrap is a single colour or a printed design, to keep it looking at its best you’ll want your car or van to be clean and polished.

So what are the best ways to make sure your next clean and detail leaves your vehicle with the absolute best finish possible?

1. Find a shady spot

You might not imagine that the position of your car could affect the finish, but if you detail it in bright sunlight, the cleaning products can dry out before they have chance to work, or before you wipe them off.

Always clean your car in the shade, and you protect it from extremes of temperature and from dried-out products that might leave an unsightly residue.

2. Know your cloths

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

Choose the right cloth, chamois or sponge for each body part, and make sure you keep them separate – you don’t want to wipe thickly caked-on mud from the tyres, and then move on to the paintwork or bumpers with the same cloth.

This also allows you to use different cleaning products for different parts of the car, without worrying so much about thoroughly rinsing out the same cloth over and over again.

3. Top down

One of the most basic pieces of advice, but one that is always worth repeating, is to make sure you start at the top and work your way down.

You’ll avoid washing dirt down on to parts you’ve already cleaned, but you might also make it easier on yourself, as water coming down from above should soften and loosen dry mud and dirt around the tyres and underbody.

4. Take your time

As with any job, the more you rush it, the less good the outcome will be. Take your time, focus on the fine details, and if you need to go over any parts again, do so with patience and a consistent amount of attention.

If you’re adding wax or polish, you should give particular care and attention to getting an even layer applied, and to buffing or polishing it to an even, streak-free, residue-free finish.

5. Inside and out

Steve Snodgrass
Steve Snodgrass

You’ll spend more time inside your vehicle than looking at it from outside, so treat yourself with a thorough internal cleanse as well.

Compressed air can blast dirt out of carpets, before you clean them with a stiff brush and appropriate cleaning foams and fluids.

6. A breath of fresh air

Once you’ve cleaned inside and out, change the air filter, or use a small air compressor or high-precision vacuum nozzle to get into the air ducts and blast or suck away dirt.

Consider adding a vent air freshener to eliminate any remaining unwelcome aromas, and your car or van will not only look as good as new, it will smell it too.

7. Keep it up

Regular cleaning keeps your car or van looking at its best, but it also makes it much easier to remove any fresh dirt that has not had chance to bake on in bright sunlight.

Some particularly nasty substances that might splash on to your vehicle can cause permanent damage to the paintwork, so if you’ve been on a long drive and picked up a lot of dirt along the way, consider giving it an extra onceover.