In this guide:
- Learn the commonly forgotten areas to look out for to take your spring clean to the next level.
- Discover the basic products you need to clean, enhance and protect your vehicle.
- Follow seven simple steps to complete your detail in under 2 hours.
What are the benefits?
- Protect your vehicle from early onset of corrosion caused by ignoring winter grime.
- All steps can be performed quickly and easily at home.
- You can perform a cost-effective enhancement without a whole host of specialist equipment.
Seven simple steps to spring cleaning heaven!
Winter can be extremely harsh on any vehicle, which is just one of the reasons why, as detailers, we can’t wait until springtime. You see, with an over-abundance of grime on the roads, along with salt and other heavy contaminants, your vehicle will always take quite the battering… and let’s face it – the weather doesn’t always help for getting out there for anything other than routine maintenance, either!
But, we always say that giving your car a good detail at the start of spring sets you in good stead for what’s on the horizon. Spring is a time for change, after all. And there's no change quite as satisfying as cleaning away the remanence of the cold season.
And, that’s exactly what a thorough spring clean is all about – deep-cleaning and decontamination of all the winter grime. So, whether it’s getting your daily driver season ready, or you haven’t quite been keeping up on those maintenance washes, here you’ll find our seven steps to spring cleaning heaven… and all in less than a couple of hours…
Step 1 – Engine Bay
It’s a stage that many forget or simply choose to ignore, which is something of a shame because transforming your engine bay, especially on a relatively modern car, couldn’t be simpler. Besides, over autumn and winter you’ll find significantly more salt and road grime being flung up into engine bays, along with other organic debris like dead leaves, mud and mulch finding its way through scuttle panels, in some cases even blocking the factory drain holes. Areas that seem to suffer the most from the extra dirt are engine covers and trims, along with the underside of the bonnet. Cleaning this away is not only a matter of aesthetics, it can actually prolong the life of vital components… basically stopping contaminants from rotting some of the more sensitive parts of your bay.
All these areas are easy to clean however, and you even have a choice of great products. A strong 1:2 dilution of Verso All Purpose Cleaner, or Eradicate Engine Degreaser (for oil, grease and other heavy soiling), will be enough to shift a serious amount of grime.
On a cool engine (starting with the underside of the bonnet) give the whole engine bay a pre-rinse, being sure to flush out scuttles and shuts. This is a safe process to carry out just as long as you avoid spraying directly at alternators and exposed electrics.
After your pre-rinse, a liberal helping of Verso or Eradicate can be applied and brushed into surfaces with a Detailing Brush or Hog Hair Brush. This is a super quick process, and you can keep applying your cleaning product as you work, just don’t it fully dry. Once you’ve brushed your cleaner into all areas, including shuts, pillars, plastic covers and scuttle panels, simply rinse away the dirt with your pressure washer.
One unique thing about engine bays is that you can finish them before going on with the rest of your detail. Just liberally apply Dressle All Purpose Dressing over the entire area, shut the bonnet and leave to cure for 4-6 hours. You can go back later and mop up any excess if you need to, it really is as simple as that.
Step 2 - Wheels, arches and tyres
Now on to what you may call the main detail, and as always, we start with the wheels tyres and arches – generally the dirtiest parts of the whole vehicle. All of these areas should be completed together, one corner at a time.
Again, for a spring clean on a daily driver it’s more about a deep-clean and detox than it would be for general maintenance, this is why we’d not only use a powerful wheel cleaner, like Revolution Wheel Soap, but combine it with a hard hitting product that’s capable of chemically dissolving embedded ferrous particles. For this we use Iron Out Contaminant Remover.
The reason these sharp metal particles need to be removed is that, if left for long enough, they’ll not only damage the wheel finish, but can cause corrosion, and even compromise the structure of the wheel.
In this case, after a thorough rinse (be sure to flush out the arches with your pressure washer, too), Iron Out can be applied directly to the wheel faces and barrels and then brushed in with a solution of Revolution (2-3 capfuls in a bucket of water). Start with a Barrel Brush to agitate the product on the inside of the wheel, and then go on to use a detailing brush and dedicated wash mitt to clean any grime from the spokes and faces. Finally rinse off, before moving on.
After cleaning wheels, it’s time for the tyres and arches, this is to remove any road grime, leftover dressings or other heavy contaminants that may have built up over winter. A 1:2 dilution of Verso will remove all soiling here, simply spray liberally over tyre sidewalls and inner arch liners and scrub away using a tyre or arch brush. After rinsing and re-flushing arches, you can give your wheels a final rinse.
Step 3 - Pre-wash and contact wash
Starting with thorough a pre-wash is the only way to remove heavy soiling without inflicting swirl marks. In fact, no matter the level of grime on the vehicle, always start by pre-washing before making any contact with the paintwork, if anything just to be sure.
The first stage is to tackle awkward areas like door jambs, boot shuts. These are often forgotten during maintenance and can build up a surprising amount of grime from the weather and simply hopping in and out over winter. We always start by spritzing these with Citrus Power Bug & Grime Remover and agitating with a soft Detailing Brush. After this you can give them a rinse and move onto to rinsing down the rest of the vehicle from the top to bottom to remove any loose, heavy soiling.
Next, more Citrus Power over the rest of the vehicle to attack dirt and grime that’s become attached. Citrus Power can be used on all trim, glass and paintwork, and we recommend spraying on the most contaminated areas (the lower halves, front bumper and rear end) to give maximum dwell time. Once rinsed away, you can move on to using Avalanche Snow Foam.
Avalanche, our Citrus-infused Snow Foam is an important stage in any pre-wash, it not only has a heavy dwell time to help it lift and lubricate any remaining heavy grime, but it also works its way into any awkward panel gaps to clean those too. This ensures that any dust and debris present won’t drip out later and interfere with the rest of your detail.
The great thing about Avalanche, too, is that it can be agitated with a soft brush to give extra cleaning power around intricate areas like grills, badges, along window rubbers and inside fuel flaps.
These little extras are particularly important during a spring clean, to prevent any interference from debris during the polishing stage later… just think of a little brushing as sorting out the finer details that will lift the whole job.
When all the Avalanche is rinsed away, you can move on to the contact wash. As always, a two bucket wash (with one for your shampoo solution and the other used for rinsing out your mitt after each pass) is the best way to avoid inflicting swirl marks. It’s also important to use Lather Car Shampoo to lift and lubricate grime, allowing it to slide off of the vehicle without abrading paintwork.
As you contact wash tackle the least contaminated areas first – starting with the roof and upper sides, and finishing with the lower sides and rear end. This will avoid any transfer of grime to cleaner areas. Only after you’ve covered every inch with your mitt should you thoroughly rinse away any shampoo solution.
Stage 4 - Decontamination
A full 3-stage decontamination is arguably the most important collection of processes in any spring clean, this is where we remove a multitude of embedded contaminants that could have built up over the winter season. Here we tackle the sort of nasties that can’t be eradicated by washing alone, contaminants like ferrous metal particles, sticky tar and glue residues and embedded organic and inorganic contaminants, such as bird droppings and tree sap. As you’d expect, we have an effective product and a process for each.
First up, the metal particles, you can look as these as tiny pieces of shrapnel from sources such as brake dust. These are flying around in the air on the roads, and will inevitably embed themselves into paintwork, eventually oxidising and creating what looks like tiny rusty spots. The only way of safely removing these from your paintwork is using Iron Out. Simply spray over all surfaces, leave to dwell for a minute or two (without allowing the product to dry) and you’ll see it react to turn blood red. To get a little more bite on heavily contaminated vehicles you can also gently agitate Iron Out with a Polish Pad or microfibre cloth. It can then be rinsed away, taking the metal particles with it.
The second decontamination process is designed to take care of the sticky residues, most commonly road tar, and for this we use ObliTARate Tar & Glue Remover. This solvent-based formula is ideal for use on lower halves where you’ll find these kind of contaminants. A few spritzes over these areas is all it takes and you’ll see the sticky stuff just melt away ready to be wiped off of the surface with a microfibre cloth.
Once you have used ObliTARate it’s important to rinse away the product thoroughly, before rewashing the area using Lather to neutralise any leftover solvents. This will prevent the solvents from reacting with your clay in the next stage.
The final process is designed to physically pull other contaminants out of paintwork using clay, this will leave the surface silky smooth, and perfect for enhancement.
Here you can use a Clay Bar, or Clay Pad (attached to our Handi Puck), along with Glide Clay Lube. It’s a really simple process that makes a huge amount of difference, some even say this is where a ‘wash’ meets a ‘detail’! In any case, it’s as simple as lubricating the clay and the surface with Glide, and then gently running the clay back and forth until the contaminants have been removed – you can actually feel the difference in how your clay glides when the surface is smooth.
After claying the whole vehicle, another wash and rinse down will ensure that all traces of Glide has been eradicated.
Of course, we can never say this enough, always dry your vehicle thoroughly after washing. This is because tap water – i.e. the stuff coming out of your pressure washer - will contain a huge amount of mineral deposits. If left to air dry, these will inevitably cause marks and hard water spots on the surface. In short, tap water isn’t pure like filtered water or rainwater, so it needs to be soaked up safely, using an Aqua Deluxe or Aqua Deluxe XL Drying Towel. For drying door jambs and wheels, a super-fluffy Primo Plush or Ultra Plush cloth is the perfect companion.
Step 5 - EnhancementAt this stage, you can of course choose to fully machine polish your vehicle, using our Revitalise System or One-Step All-in-One Compound, to remove every single defect in your paintwork. But, that’s more along the lines of a full correction detail, rather than a relatively quick and simple spring clean.
Our product of choice here is our extremely versatile Tripple All-in-One Polish. This advanced abrasive formula will not only enhance the look of any type of paintwork, but will also clean away oxidation and leave behind the unmistakably warm glow of wax… yes, this one is actually infused with T1 Grade carnauba, so will install a layer of wax protection!
What’s more, we’ve also engineered this particular polish to be extremely quick and easy to apply by hand… ideal for spot of spring cleaning.
Just add a few drops to a Polish Pad or Microfibre Applicator and massage into paintwork, one panel at a time. After leaving the product to haze for a moment, buff away the residue with a fresh microfibre cloth – you’ll immediately see the difference. Basically speaking, Tripple is the speedy way to clean, enhance and protect, all in one step.
Step 6 - InteriorNow is a great time to start tackling the interior, simply because if you do this before adding your final paint protection layers, then any area of exterior paintwork that you may accidentally rub against while cleaning the cabin (think getting in and out for products, or using a vacuum cleaner) can be quickly rectified. Makes sense, right?
Spring cleaning wise, you’re looking to rid the vehicle of mud and general grime that will have been dragged in on shoes and clothing over winter, along with dust, body oils and fingerprints. The most affected areas will inevitably be carpets, pedals and seats, but dashboards, doorcards and plastic trim also take a particular battering in winter. Luckily every single one of these areas can be taken care of with Total Interior Cleaner.
Vacuum the seats and carpets first, to remove the worst of the loose grime and then you can spritz Total liberally over fabrics, agitating the stains and grime away with an Upholstery Brush. A final wipe over and (as soon as fabrics are dry) your cabin will be as fresh as the day it left the factory.
For dashboards, doorcards and trim, Total is a quick and effective spray and wipe formula, you can either spritz directly onto surfaces and wipe, or onto a microfibre cloth before wiping other the surface. For more intricate or awkward areas, Total can be agitated with a soft detailing brush, before wiping away any excess. On all these areas Total leaves behind a natural and non-sticky, satin matte finish.
One last interior product to consider is Wipe Out Interior Disinfectant, which has been developed to kill 99.99% of all bacteria and viruses. A simple spray and wipe application is the key here, and as well as being devastatingly effective on areas like steering wheels and shifters that suffer from the most human contact, it’s also great for spraying into heater vents. It may sound strange, but this is an important tip because air conditioning systems are notorious for bacteria build-up when they’re unused over winter. And, what’s the first thing you do as soon as the weather heats up? That’s right, blow the whole lot in your face! Spraying Wipe Out into the vents eliminates the problem, making this product a must have, especially in the current climate.
Step 7 - Protection and finishing
Of course, we understand that final finishing is a deeply personal thing. You may be looking to apply your favourite hard wax or even a coating for protection in the springtime, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with either!
For a super-fast spring clean though, Radiance Carnauba Crème is highly recommended. Again, we’ve developed this product to be extremely easy to apply, and it gives similar visual results to our Signature Hard Wax Collection, only in a super quick time. Radiance also offers up to 3-months protection from the elements, and is applied in much the same way as Tripple. A few pea sized drops on a Microfibre Applicator or Polish Pad is all you need to complete a whole panel, and you simply won’t believe how easily the residue is wiped away. You can complete an entire vehicle in a matter of minutes.
It goes without saying that every detail can be elevated with a few finishing touches, but we say that the absolute minimum is using the magical duo of Crystal Glass Cleaner and Satin Tyre Crème.
The short of it is that nothing lets down a great detail like streaky windows, and spritzing on a little Crystal inside and out, before wiping away any grime and smears with a fresh cloth, literally takes seconds. In fact, it seems almost rude not to!
As for your tyres, well, these are another area that are all too often forgotten. But, in reality, they offer the opportunity for the perfect finishing touch, and application of Satin not only enhances the look, but this easily absorbed crème also nourishes from within and creates a barrier of protection from the elements, too.
Perhaps the best thing for enthusiasts here is that Satin allows you to choose the level of gloss you’re after. A single application gives a clean natural look, while adding more layers pumps up the gloss for a deep, wet-look shine.