A clean car is a happy car, and it also reflects on you as an owner. Take pride in keeping your car clean inside and out, and people will notice. One step above just washing your car is getting it detailed. Detailing isn't just an interior cleaning, detailing can be an exterior concept as well; and you might be surprised what goes in to detailing a vehicle.
Detailing a car's interior means paying attention to all the cracks, crevices and fabrics inside your vehicle. An easy place to start is by removing the floor mats. Vacuum the mats, floor of the vehicle (front and back, moving the seats forward and back to reach all the carpet), upholstery, rear parcel shelf, dashboard and trunk.
If your carpet or upholstery has any stains, using a foam cleanser and rubbing it in with a damp cloth or sponge should get rid of them. Make sure you allow the cleanser to set in for a few minutes before scrubbing the spot. Repeat as many times as needed to clean the spots. Make sure to wipe up the cleanser with a damp (not soaking wet) sponge and do a final blotting with a dry towel to get all the wetness from the fabric and carpet as possible.
Leaving your fabric and carpet damp may cause mold and mildew.
While your floor mats are out, spray them down to get all the sand and dirt off, and then dry them before putting them back in the car.
After you've cleaned the dash there are still probably places you can't easily get the dust out of. Using a can of compressed air should help blast that dust out of hard-to-reach places in the dash, doors, and other places around the car.
Wipe down all interior hard surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner. Use a super-absorbent (for dust) detailing brush on your air vent grilles.
For cloth seats, shampoo them with a wet-vac, making sure they are plenty dry afterward. Leather or vinyl seats can be cleaned with a special cleaner and wiped away with a microfiber cloth. Condition your cleaned leather seats so the leather looks shiny and doesn't dry out or crack.
Finally, spray glass cleaner on your interior windows and windshield and wipe off with a microfiber or lint-free cloth.
Starting with the tires, spray the rims with a degreaser or wheel cleaner. Leave on for a few minutes before scrubbing off with a stiff-bristled brush. Repeat as necessary. Wash the tires with a whitewall tire cleaner and let it soak in for a nice glossy finish.
When washing your car by hand, use a car wash soap, not dish or laundry detergent. Using a microfiber cloth or towel will trap the dirt and grime without leaving scraps of lint behind. Start with the top of your car and work down. Work quickly so the soap does not have time to dry on the car's surface. After rinsing off with a hose, make sure to dry the car thoroughly with a terry cloth towel or chamois, as air drying will cause soap spots to form. Clean the exterior windows with glass cleaner.
One special product used in detailing the exterior of a vehicle is detailing clay. This is a bar of an engineered resin compound that looks similar to a bar of soap, and it's used to remove contaminants from the surface of a vehicle's paint, glass, fiberglass and metal. This bar of clay can be natural or synthetic. Most manufacturers prefer synthetic clays.
Detailing clay is a very elastic type of clay, offering enhanced durability as it is used to detail, being rolled, flattened, smashed and stretched repeatedly during the detailing process. In addition, this clay is designed to repel the kind of contaminants regular clay doesn't deal with; such as industrial fallout, rail and brake dust, and other pollutants your vehicle comes in contact with. These things can scratch and pierce paint finishes, as well as glass and metal, and they can remain stuck on your vehicle even through rain, car washes and hand polishing. However, with the use of detailing clay you can eliminate these unwanted blemish-causers.
There are a lot of components in getting your car into shape. However, keeping your car in top maintenance will not only prolong its lifetime, but will also help its resale value when you're ready to trade up.