Dog Days: Get The Upper Hand On Spots, Stains and Drool
Those dog days of summer can turn your pristine ride into a rolling mess.
“Heat and sun batter your vehicle in summer,” said Jim Dvorak of Mothers car care products. “By midsummer the protection most drivers put on their vehicle in spring has worn off.”
At his Southern California home Dvorak keeps a keen eye out for three of his most common nemeses: bird droppings, bug goo, road grime. He also makes sure the interior gets a coat of protection a few times in summer to prevent long-term sun and heat damage.
Adding a layer of midsummer protection helps prevent organic and inorganic contaminants (road tar, brake dust) from discoloring or staining his vehicle and its wheels.
Severe drought throughout the West and South have altered the equation for Dvorak and other car detailing pros. No more dragging out a hose and cleaning their vehicles on their driveway or street.
Runoff can turn into run-ins with local water officials and possible fines. Dvorak’s answer is using a waterless car wash spray and some microfiber towels.
“Waterless wash and wax sprays not only clean effectively but add a layer of protection against harmful ultraviolet rays of hot summer sun.”
Automated car washes offer an effective way to perform the basic cleaning and they often recycle water. Then, once dirt and grime has been removed, drivers can add a coat of wax at home.
“You can use a microfiber towel to clean off any remaining water residue or dust from the drive home,” Dvorak said. “Use a spray-on wax to add a layer of protection.”
Spills and slobber
“Sugary liquid spills should be mopped up right away,” Dvorak said. “Otherwise, they can soak into seat padding and carpet.”
Dirt and liquids embed themselves into fabrics and contribute to molds as well as odors.
“Test a small amount of upholstery cleaner by applying it to an inconspicuous spot such as underneath a seat,” Dvorak said.
Dvorak urged car owners to avoid harsh industrial solvents or cleaning agents. Do not use metallic brushes to free ground-in dirt. Pet stains and slobber also should be removed frequently to prevent long-term problems.
“I keep a bottle of interior detailer in my trunk along with a microfiber towel stored inside a food zipper bag.”
Pet noses, drool and finger smudges can turn a pristine window into a smudged surface that reduces visibility.
Glass cleaners with ammonia products may damage film used for automotive tint and also harm other interior surfaces, Dvorak daid. Use cleaners intended for automotive glass and avoid soapy products, which tend to leave reside and also cause streaking.
In contrast, non-water-based cleaners use chemical reagents to remove contaminants such as particles-dirt, sap, road grime, exhaust pipe emissions and airborne pollutants. They do not contain soap, dyes or ammonia.
Use a soft and lint-free cloth or microfiber towel. Spray a thin coating of glass cleaner. Let it loosen and dissolve dirt, insects, sap and road grime. Spray about eight inches away from the glass surface to coat evenly.
Extreme heat, biting cold, corrosive brake dust, road salts, road grime–no other surface of your vehicle takes as much road abuse as your vehicle’s wheels.
Between summer road trips, you can make your vehicle’s wheels look like new again with a few simple steps. The same care steps are required whether your vehicle has wheels made of brass, various other alloys or stainless steel.
According to Dvorak, wheel maintenance means using products that remove summer grit and grime without oxidizing wheel surfaces. For instance, household cleaners may cause permanent damage.
Use non-acidic products designed specifically for vehicle wheels, Dvorak said. These come in foam and sprays. Make sure to read product labels and avoid leaving product “set” for longer than recommended.
The unique designs of modern wheels make them look spectacular but also make them harder to clean. Automated car washes usually only clean the surface of wheels but not the gaps or cutouts.
Use brushes designed specifically for wheels to reach the molded angles and notches to prevent corrosion and get a truly impressive shine.
Pet odors, trail grime and food droppings can foul the air in your vehicle cabin. Air fresheners of your favorite fragrance are a simle, temporary answer.
Yet, fragrances don't get rid the odor source. Instead, deodorizers and odor eliminator foggers can resolve smelly problems.
Deodorizers work on a microbial level by attacking airborne germs. Air sanitizers are especially popular in hospitals for their ability to kill cold and flu viruses. The products typically come from an aerosol can, though gel canisters are growing in popularity.
Fragrances temporarily mask the smell but don’t eliminate it. Experts recommend cleaning the interior by finding the source of odor.
Once you have cleaned the source of the foul smells, then it’s time to apply the fragrance of your choice. Sprays, waxes, cardboard cutouts and essential oils come in a vast variety of aromas such as lavender, bergamot, coffee, lemon, strawberry, cherry and even “new car smell.”