Do-it-yourself car detailing can save you big money

CLEVELAND - With the kids back at school and summer all wrapped up, the family car is probably due for a good cleaning. 

However, a professional detail job can command top dollar. Here are some clean-up secrets from industry insiders so you save money.

Brandon Williams told us his car is trashed after a busy summer.

"(We had) the beach, barbecues, about seven to eight people riding in it at one time," he said.

 "So I'm going to vacuum it out, wash it up," said Pete Bowman, who has been caring for cars at Jay Honda in Bedford for almost 15 years.

"It's cleaning supplies that you have in your house that you can use," Bowman said. He also told us to forget the fancy stuff.  You just need a few simple supplies to really revive your ride.

Plain old glass cleaner works fine on hard interior surfaces and use an old make-up brush or toothbrush for those hard-to-reach spots.

"This is what gets all the nooks and crannies in there because of the fine brush," Bowman said.

To clean those deep cup holders, he said to wrap a rag around a cup or can, spray your cleaner, then twist your cup while in the cup holder.

For carpet or seats spots and stains, Bowman said upholstery foam cleaner to a degreaser cleaner can be used lightly around the whole area, adding that you need to "agitate it."

"The reason for doing the whole seat is that spot won't stand out because you got it soaking wet, you're spreading the chemical evenly," Bowman said.

Be sure to check product labels on all interior cleaners. Don't use anything with bleach or ammonia. If you have leather interior, get products specifically for leather.

On the exterior, rubbing compound is the secret to erasing those surface scratches.

"Rub it in until you see it's gone," Bowman said.

That looks easy but when it comes to wheels, Bowman told us it is hard work.

"Any kind of tire, wheel cleaner that you can get over the counter (is good) and you just have to use your elbow grease," Bowman said.

He also told us a good "deep nap" wash rag or mitt will help protect your paint and always wash from top down.

"The worst debris is always at the bottom of the car," Bowman said. "You want to do the bottom half last."       

Other pointers include using soap made for car washing. Don't use kitchen and laundry products because they are too harsh.  Avoid washing your car in direct sunlight. Waxing at least once a year is recommended.

Finally, don't let bugs or bird droppings build up because organic matter like that contains acid that can actually damage your paint. Bowman said if you stay on top of cleaning and caring for your car, it can be worth more when you sell it.

Would you believe using steel wool is one of the best ways to clean car windows?  Think rubbing pumice stone over your vehicle's interior can make it look like new?  How about using chunks of clay to smooth and shine your car's paint?  Click on the extra video vignette in the video player to find out more about these and other professional automobile detailer secrets.

Print this article Back to Top