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Consumer Reports: Tips On Keeping Your Car Clean

10:47 AM, Sep 6, 2013   |    comments
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Car sales have hit a six-year-high with U.S. auto makers selling almost 1.5 million cars last month. This means auto sales are heading towards 16 million for this year.  USA Today is reporting that the average price of a car is $31,252 - up $164 from last month. Twenty years ago, the average price was $12,750 and forty years ago it was $3,650.  The three most popular cars from August: Chevrolet Silverado, Toyota Camry, and the Ford F-150 pickup at number one.

With so many people buying cars, we wanted to know what the best tips and tools are for keeping it looking like a million books. Our friends at Consumer Reports' ShopSmart Magazine came up with their list. Here are the tips according to them:

Five Car-Cleaning Tips

Don't wash in direct sunlight. Washing or waxing a car in direct sunlight can cause the paint to get too hot and can cause damage. Also, start at the top and work downwards using a lamb's wool mitt, gentle soap, and water. Lower surfaces are the grimiest, and dirt can end up lodged in the mitt, causing scratches.

Give it a rest. Exterior cleaners, especially those for wheels and tires, stay wet for a while, and that can attract dirt when driving. Wait until everything is dry before getting on the road.

Get into corners.  Special tools aren't needed to clean out tight interior areas.  Wood skewers and cotton swabs are great for small spots such as vents, seams, buttons, and switches and old makeup brushes also work well in louvers and vents.

Deep-clean fabrics.  Spray vacuumed carpets and cloth seats lightly with a foaming aerosol cleaner.  After it begins to dry, use a vacuum to remove it. For an even deeper cleaning, rent a carpet extractor from a home center or grocery store.

Be gentle with plastics. Use an ammonia-free glass cleaner on plastic surfaces, but be careful because ammonia may cause surfaces to bleach.

For The Exterior:

  • CAR WASH LIQUID:  Dedicated car cleaners are relatively inexpensive (about $10). Just keep away from dish soap and laundry detergent; they're too harsh for auto paint.
  • CAR WAX: Nu Finish NF-76, $8, is a liquid wax that's durable, easy to use, and a top scorer in tests. The finish should last several months.
  • GLASS CLEANER:  Skip the vinyl and plastic cleaner. A household glass cleaner works just fine. Just make sure that it is ammonia-free to avoid discoloring surfaces.
  • LAMB'S WOOL MITT:  They're a very worthwhile investment, at about $20. The fibers are gentle on the paint, and the nap is deep enough to snatch up loose dirt and sand so that they don't rub against the car.
  • WHEEL AND TIRE CLEANER: For stock wheels, get one labeled as safe for all wheels. Eagle One A2Z (under $10) was tops in our tests. To remove pitting on chrome and metals, use an acid-free dedicated cleaner.

 For the Interior:

  • COTTON SWABS, BARBECUE SKEWERS, AND TOOTH- AND MAKEUP BRUSHES:  These items are perfect for cleaning vents, corners, and cup holders, and for getting around knobs and controls. A soft-bristled toothbrush can also help scrub out dirt in tight spots.
  • LEATHER CLEANER:  Be sure to use a product dedicated for leather surfaces; other cleaners can strip away the natural oils on seats and panels. Most cleaners also moisturize leather and leave a sunscreen to prevent fading. For fabric upholstery and carpeting, look for spray
  • SPRAY-ON FABRIC CLEANER:  Look for foaming cleaners for upholstery and carpeting.
  • MICROFIBER TOWELS:  The "split" variety is extremely absorbent, with fibers that create crevices that trap water and debris."



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