How to clean your car to achieve the ‘new car’ shine and smell

cropped view of young man in latex gloves using antiseptic spray and rag for cleaning car interior

Between leftover drive-through cups, accidental spills by little ones, and exposure to the elements, keeping a car looking its best can be tricky.

In fact, Bristol Street Motors has spotted that searches for ‘how to clean a car’ have increased by 30% over the last three months, while searches for ‘new car smell’ have seen a 22% uplift.

To help those wanting to take advantage of the warm weather, and make their motor spick and span, the experts at Bristol Street Motors have shared their top car cleaning tips.

1. Prepare your car for cleaning

First things first, you want to prep your car properly before you clean it. Start by getting rid of any rubbish or clutter in your motor, such as food wrappers, receipts, or tissues.

Next, remove any items that you still want to keep in the vehicle but want to store away during the cleaning process, like a car seat or toolkit.

Finally, take out the floor mats from your car, ready to give them a thorough wash on a high heat setting.

2. Pre-wash your exterior

Use a snow foam wash, which is essentially a shampoo for your car, and ideally a pressure washer or hose to blast away dirt and grime from your vehicle’s exterior. If you don’t have access to either of those cleaning tools, opt for pouring buckets of hot water over your car, after applying the foam wash.

During this powerful pre-wash, make sure to pay attention to the wheels and tyres of your car by giving them a spray down.

3. Dry brush dirt & dust

Once you’ve prepped your car’s exterior, it’s time to do the same to its interior. Before vacuuming, you want to treat the car’s car upholstery with a dry brush, using it to remove dirt and mud on the seats. If you’re struggling to clean dirt or crumbs from certain spots, try using a toothbrush to remove reach any tricky nooks and crannies.

4. Freshen up the interior

Next, it’s time to completely freshen up the car’s interior. Start by treating any stains in your vehicle. An easy, cost-effective solution for this is to sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over any stains or bad smelling spots in your car. Leave to soak for up to an hour and then thoroughly vacuum the bicarbonate of soda away, along with the rest of the car.

Wipe down every inch of the car interior that isn’t its upholstery, such as the steering wheel and cup holders. When it comes to cleaning mirrors and the internal windows, ensure that you use a cleaning spray specifically designed for glass with a lint-free cloth.

5. Make your exterior sparkle and shine

After spending plenty of time treating the interior and upholstery, it’s time to turn your attention back to the exterior of the car. While the pre-clean will have helped remove dirt and grime, this next step will allow you to properly scrub your car to give it a gleaming appearance.

Fill a bucket with a combination of car cleaner and warm water. Use a microfibre sponge covered in the soapy water mix, and scrub at every inch of the paintwork in circular motions, including your bumper and car doors, which can be easily missed. Rinse the sponge with clean water in a separate bucket, to avoid your cleaning mix becoming contaminated with any dirt debris. Make sure to use your specialist glass cleaner when treating your windows.

If you really want to recreate that new car look, then consider polishing your motor after cleaning – just make sure to do some research to find a polish that will suit your paintwork.

6. Kill bacteria and create a new car smell

When it comes to achieving that new car look and smell, there are some steps best left to the experts. One of these is air conditioning treatment.

While many drivers rely on their AC, they might not know that bacteria can quickly build up in air conditioning systems, especially when they haven’t been in use over winter. So, schedule a professional air conditioning treatment to tackle bacteria. You should also be able to request that this treatment leaves the interior with a fresh scent, recreating that beloved new car smell.

7. Keep on top of your cleaning

As important as it is to give your car a deep clean every few months, prevention is also key to keeping your car looking its best. For example, it can be difficult to clean away the dirt that gets in the bottom of cup holders. But, if you line your cup holders with silicone cupcake cases to avoid the crumbs and general residue that ends up at the bottom, they are much easier to remove and clean.

Seat covers are also a fantastic investment for any drivers with furry friends prone to shedding, or little ones likely to spill or drop food and drink in the backseat. Make sure to store a packet of all-purpose cleaning wipes in your glove compartment, which are perfect to use on any unexpected messes or to simply maintain a fresh interior.

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