DIY Deep Clean Car Wash


During the stay at home period why not pamper your car to a bit more than spring clean with a deep clean. With Covid-19 rampant we need to do what we can at home to make our cars as safe, clean and germ free as possible. We’ve put together a simple guide to car washing and cleaning knowing that many people do not have access to professional car cleaning products. This is a great activity to get the kids involved in too.

Bugs and germs are everywhere in a car and generally have little affect on a car’s occupants. Drivers and passengers sneeze, cough and touch lots of surfaces with dirty hands but one if there is one thing we have all learned from Covid-19 is the fact human contact with contaminated surfaces is how the virus spreads. Now more than ever the ability to recognise and clean areas where contact is made is vital. Alcohol based sanitising solutions and anti bacterial wipes are key to making your car a safer place to spend time in.

Car companies like Skoda, Toyota and Mazda have been active on social media pointing out where the main contact areas or points of contact (POC) are. The obvious ones are, well ‘obvious’ but there are loads more that should get a good wipe down. We have been spreading the word too about this on national radio (Today FM) for a number of weeks now. We’ve listed the areas in this article but first lets look at how to simply wash a car at home effectively and then take a look at a check list of surfaces we need to deep clean.

Basic washing Dos and Don’ts:

Do – Soak the car first with water and some car shampoo or normal hair shampoo is you have it. Let it soak for a bit before active washing. This will gently loosen dirt.

Don’t – Use brillo pads or any rough scourer as these will damage the paint’s lacquer (aka the gloss coat on the paint’s surface). Depending on the type of wheels you have a scourer can be good to shift brake dust but be careful not to damage the coating on the wheel. Try a light application first and see how you go.

Do – Use a vinegar/water mix to shift bugs and other tough bits of dirt. Toothpaste is a good for shining up dull headlight clusters – you can even use an old toothbrush to apply it.

Don’t – Use washing up liquid or other detergent! Home washing up liquid or detergents will clean the car but dull the paintwork, also they’re not great for rubber seals and wipers.

Do – Use use a face cloth or soft sponge (make sure you don’t trap grit in whatever you use as you end up gouging swirls in to the paint’s surface. You can often see this type of damage in paintwork caused by excessive use of mechanical carwash machines.

Don’t – Wash areas randomly, when the car dries you’ll kick yourself as areas will be missed.

Do – Wash systematically. Start washing the at the top and then work your way downwards. Its obvious I know but the closer you go to the road the dirtier the car will be. Wash the roof, then windows, mirrors, bonnet and boot. Then do the sides, handles and lastly the wheels as they’ll be dirtiest from brake dust.

Don’t – Be fooled by a wet car, it will look clean.

Do – Rinse from the top down (sorry for being so obvious).

Don’t – Feel bad if you don’t have a power hose – although they are great. A garden hose or even three refills of a bucket will do it.

Do – Dry the car if you can to avoid water marks.


Do – Clear everything out of the car and hoover, initially dust surfaces with a duster or tumble drier fabric sheets.

Do – Use anti bacterial wipes or hand sanitiser liquids to kill bugs.

Do – Use car specific products but household cleaners work as well – but check for compatibility with materials in the car.

Don’t – Miss all the nooks and crannies. You’ll be amazed at how few flat surfaces make up the car’s interior. You need to be able to get in to every little spot.

Do – Use a clean paint brush to clean air vents and other niches and cotton buds or Q tips will be needed.

Don’t – Scrub away with products you aren’t sure of. Test on an out of sight area first to make sure you don’t damage fabrics and materials.

Do – Attack grubby cloth upholstery and wash out any stains as the car will have time to dry during ‘staying at home time’. Woolite is a good leather cleaner. Most natural oils (coconut etc.) are good for leather too but use sparingly to ensure it soaks in to the leather and not on to clothes!

Do – Use newspaper to clean glass. A little Olive oil on a cloth will brighten up a dashboard.

Do – Use a cooking oil spray to shine the side walls of your tyres and on the alloys to protect from brake dust.

Do– Put coffee beans in the ashtray to get rid of any nasty smells. You can also use essentials oils to make your own air freshener. Baking soda, use like ‘Shake n’ Vac’ is good to deodorise carpets. A mild solution of baking soda and water will clean safety belts too (scrub, rinse, dry).

Deep Clean

This is good – based on Toyota’s list of 40 POCs:

Exterior door handles
Frame of door and roof (you’d be amazed at where people touch the car)
Inner door release
Window switches
Interior door handle
Door pocket
Seatbelt clips
Seat adjust buttons
Steering wheel (and all its buttons)
Control stalks
Driver air vents
Power button
Gear shift
Multimedia screen
Central air vents
Heating controls
Log book
Central storage compartment
Rear-view mirror
Interior lights
Grab handle
Head rests
Seat pockets
Rear central tab
Fuel cap
Wheel valves
Boot lid
Parcel shelf
Boot floor tab
Boot close button
Bonnet lid
Washer cap
Oil cap

Don’t forget sun visors and the key of course.

While you mightn’t get old your car as clean as this gleaming new Toyota Camry you’ll have made your car a much safer place to be.

Hope this helps – stay safe.


About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan is a senior and highly respected motoring journalist based in Ireland. He is a frequently heard voice on motoring, transport and mobility matters and has multiple credits on national television, national print media, national and local radio and other outlets. Michael Sheridan has been a Car of the Year Judge for more 20 years (& more recently a Van of the Year judge). Michael has produced and directed many international and national motoring TV programmes and documentaries both on cars and motorcycles - including four films on the iconic Route 66. Michael Sheridan is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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