The Year of the Clean Person: This June, Wash Your Car


Year of the Clean Person is our guided yearlong cleaning and organizing project; its focus is on tackling areas or tasks that are often overlooked in daily or weekly cleaning sprees and can be overwhelming when it comes time to rassle them back under control. This month, we’ll be gearing up for summer road trips by cleaning our cars.

Who here is going on a road trip this summer?! Well tell us about it! Where are you going, what route are you taking, what do you hope/plan to see along the way?

I love a road trip, and I also love washing cars, and I bet a lot of you do too. Which is why in June, our Year of the Clean Person project is to clean up and out our cars in anticipation of all those great summer road trips we have planned.

If you, like me, don’t have a car this is a good month to catch up on any of the previous YoCP projects or just take a break from all the hard work you’ve been doing and kick back with a nice rum drink. I mean, you’re not driving so go ahead! (As an aside, if you do have catching up to do please don’t sweat it. I’m still working on my bathroom, and that was our April project. It happens.)

Just like with our previous monthly projects, this is one that I’ll break down into a series of individual tasks for you to mix and match depending on the state of your car, how much time you have, and so on.

The Car’s Exterior

According to Popular Mechanics, “the best car wash is a hand wash.” Which? Yes, that is true. But commercial car washes have their merits, namely that they’re fast, inexpensive and so so so so so much fun. Oh my God, all those flaps and suds! AND THEN THE GIANT DRYER!! Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! Man, I just adore a car wash experience.

So sure, going to a car wash absolutely counts toward this month’s cleaning project. But if you’re feeling like getting outside and enjoying some of the early summer weather, even though it’s not technically summer yet but you know what I mean, then by all means go give your car a scrubbing.

A few points to make about hand washing a car: Even though most people use dish soap, it’s not ideal for car washing because it can strip the wax, which provides a defensive barrier against scratches and nicks. If you can bring yourself to do so, get your hands on a car wash soap like Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo and Conditioner. (THAT NAME.)

A few other best practices to mention:

  • Hose the entire car off before you begin washing to loosen debris; pay particular attention to the wheel wells, where all manner of grit and grime tends to collect;
  • For best results, wash the car in a shady area, or on an overcast day, and make sure the car is cool to the touch—otherwise the suds will dry out as your washing away, which can cause damage to the finish of the car;
  • Work from the top down;
  • Use a synthetic chamois to dry the car when you’re done giving it is bath;
  • Buy my book for a TON more information and tips on how to clean the exterior of a car! Chapter 7 is entirely devoted to the fascinating subject of car care. (Oh God, I’m so ashamed of myself for that. But a Clean Person’s gotta eat, ya know?)

In much less shameless promotion, our pals over at Jalopnik have loads and loads of helpful information about caring for your car, as you might expect. I particularly enjoyed this post about how to clean and restore a filthy windshield.

The Car’s Interior

Just like with commercial car washes, paying to have your car detailed is a totally fine choice. I say that, in part, because sometimes it seems like people need permission to outsource work that they can do themselves but choose not to. That’s fine, guys! You have permission! You don’t even need it, but maybe it makes you feel better to know you have it.

If you want to DIY some or all of a detailing process the Jalopnik gang have you covered on that front—with a very helpful video, even!

You may, however, decide that a full detailing isn’t in the cards for you, in which case do some spot work! Here are some things you might want to consider doing to your ride:

  • Vacuum/shampoo floor mats
  • Clean out center console, glovebox, door and seat pockets (napkin control, basically)
  • Tidy up the trunk
  • Spot clean seats (upholstery cleaner for fabric, saddle soap for leather)
  • Wipe down the dashboard and panels—a damp rag is all you need for this actually! If there’s really stubborn grime, add a tiny amount of dish soap, but avoid any products that contain ammonia, as they can cause the dash to crack.

As with exterior cleaning, my book has a lot of detail about how best to clean floor mats, seats, the dashboard and paneling so if you haven’t got a copy yet and need a good excuse to do so there, I just gave you one. There are also some cringe-worthy reader stories in there, which is fun for everyone!

Okay so, what’s everyone going to take on with this one? What tips and tricks do you have to share?? What’s your favorite road trip song????

Image via Shutterstock.

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