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Common Car Cleaning Mistakes That Lead to Expensive Repair Bills

With spring officially arriving, drivers are eager to spend time restoring their motors. Across the UK, motorists are making the most of the warm weather, by removing winter build-up on their cars and giving their interior a spring clean. 

With this in mind, experts at Secure Tools, suppliers of automotive cleaning products, have revealed the most common car cleaning mistakes motorists should avoid to steer clear of expensive repair bills.  

Viral car cleaning hacks trending on the social media platform TikTok, such as using scourers and Fairy washing up liquid can potentially damage your vehicle costing hundreds of pounds to fix. 

Here are ten of the most common car cleaning mistakes to avoid when giving your motor a clean this spring. 

 

 

1. Using Abrasive Brushes

 

While it may seem like a good idea to use a scourer or kitchen sponge to scrub off any stubborn dirt or even hard to remove bugs, this can potentially damage your vehicle's paintwork. 

Scourers and kitchen sponges are extremely useful in the kitchen to remove harsh grease from frying pans, however using them on your motor can cause permanent paint damage, requiring paint correction work costing up to £2,900.

You should avoid using anything designed for harsh cleaning applications, even on grubby alloys. As an alternative, look into automotive polishing products and brushes or sponges specifically designed for car cleaning. 

 

2. Using Fairy Washing Up Liquid

 

Using Fairy washing up liquid may seem a good idea when you do not have car shampoo to hand, however this substitute can result in the stripping of essential wax and oils that protect your car’s paintwork.

Washing up liquid is designed to remove harsh grime and grease from kitchen utensils, and by using this on your motor, you could potentially be removing sun protection wax, resulting in fading or discolouration. A polish and wax will cost a minimum of £100, depending on the size of the vehicle.

Automotive wash is designed to remove harsh dirt without stripping oils and waxes from your car’s paintwork, so it is important to purchase the correct shampoo for your car to avoid expensive paintwork correction. 

 

3. Washing the Car in Hot Weather

 

It may come as a surprise to many, but washing your motor in the hot weather is not advised. 

Ideally, you should avoid washing your car in direct sunlight at all costs, as the bodywork of the car will soak up the heat, resulting in a tide mark of shampoo and dirt. Likewise, you should avoid washing your car after a long drive when the engine is hot, as this raises the same issue. 

Washing your motor on a hot day can leave behind substances that adhere to the surface, making them extremely difficult to remove. In some instances, these substances may even etch into the paintwork and when you come to remove them, cause further damage. If this occurs in one spot, a chip repair costing £60 - £120 will 

Avoid washing your vehicle on a hot day and select a time of day when the sun is low in the sky. For optimal results, clean your motor out of direct sunlight and avoid windy weather conditions. 

 

4. Using Household Disinfectants to Clean the Interior

 

While common household disinfectants are useful for cleaning the home, they are not particularly practical when looking to spruce up the interior of your motor.

Chemical products such as bleach or other harsh cleaners can damage your vehicle's upholstery and interior surfaces. Instead, opt for interior sprays or wipes designed for car cleaning, avoiding any that contain high levels of alcohol if you have leather seats as this can harm the interior finish and cost up to £1,400 to reupholster. 

Seat upholstery is prone to natural stains which should be spot-cleaned individually, rather than completely soaked, which can damage the seat’s fibres. Start by vacuuming the interior to remove any debris and use a non-abrasive spray solution with a clean cloth to spot-clean any pesky stains and refresh the interior of your motor. 

 

5. Not Removing Bird Faeces Immediately 

 

Due to the high level of PH in bird faeces, it is important to remove this almost immediately, even if it doesn’t particularly fit into your car cleaning schedule. 

Bird faeces can be extremely damaging to your car’s paintwork as it contains nitrogen which is corrosive. 

Instead of using abrasive materials to scrape off the faeces causing further damage, use car shampoo and hot water to soften the dirt before wiping it away.

 

6. Visiting an Automatic Car Wash

 

Although it may seem like an easy and inexpensive option to take your vehicle to the nearest automatic car wash, these systems are often old and kitted out with damaging nylon brushes. 

Automatic car washes are one of the major causes of damaged paintwork, as the brushes are abrasive and not properly maintained. Hand washing your vehicle is far better for keeping it clean and corrosion-free. 

 

7. Using One Bucket

 

Ideally, when washing your car you should avoid using one bucket, and instead use two. One wash bucket should contain car shampoo and hot water and the other should contain clean hot water to rinse the wash mitt or cleaning sponge. 

When using one bucket, your microfibre mitt can become very dirty and full of excess grit, which can scratch the surface of your vehicle’s paintwork resulting in up to £135 spent correcting it. 

 

8. Leaving the Car to Dry Naturally

 

Although leaving your car to dry naturally may seem like a good idea and an excellent time saver, it is actually less effective and more time consuming. 

Leaving the vehicle to dry naturally can result in water marks, making your car’s paintwork appear dull. Polishing the exterior of your car with a microfiber drying cloth or leather can make the world of difference, avoiding water marks that could potentially stain your vehicle’s paintwork if left to dry in direct sunlight. 

 

9. Avoiding Cleaning the Wheel Arches and Underside of the Car

 

When washing a car, it isn’t just about washing the parts that you can see. It’s important to wash the parts that you can’t see too, such as the wheel arches and underside as these are the dirtiest parts of a car. 

Over time, salt and mud can build up under the vehicle, leading to moisture, which in turn, leads to rust. 

As a minimum, your wheel arches require a good wash with a pressure washer and foam every time you wash your car. An under chassis washing lance attachment ensures that your pressure washer can clean any hard to reach areas.

 

10. Washing the Car in the Wrong Order

 

Another common mistake made when washing a vehicle is completing the task in the wrong order. 

When washing your motor, you should begin by pre-rinsing it with a pressure washer to remove any excess dirt and then move onto spraying wheel cleaner on the wheels of the vehicle. 

When cleaning with car shampoo, you should start from the top and work your way down, as the bottom of the car is the dirtiest part, cleaning the wheels last. The car should then be rinsed, and if necessary, a second shampoo should be applied and then rinsed again. Finally, you should finish by polishing the car with a microfibre cloth or leather. 

 

 

Edwin Thomas, Managing Director at Secure Tools, says: “When cleaning both the exterior and interior of your car you should carefully consider which products are most suitable for the job, avoiding abrasive substances and materials. 

“Always use the correct automotive cleaning products to avoid damaging the upholstery, interior surfaces and paintwork of your car. 

“Car cleaning mistakes can often lead to hefty repair bills requiring specialist attention. 

“Washing your car on a hot summer’s day can affect the overall finish, causing build-up which can result in the vehicle’s paintwork appearing dull. Try washing your car once the engine has cooled and if possible, in the shade or when the sun is low in the sky, earlier in the morning or later in the evening. 

“Try to clean your car in the correct order, and avoid missing any of the parts that you can’t see such as the wheel arches. 

“Avoid automatic car washes at all costs. It is always best to hand wash your vehicle, using the correct car cleaning products such as car shampoo, polish, wheel cleaner and either a sponge or a microfibre mitt.”

 

About Secure Tools

 

Secure Tools supply a range of automotive cleaning products and pressure washers as part of their home and garden range. Secure Tools car cleaning range includes a variety of car shampoos, upholstery wipes, professional brushes and sponges, interior cleaners, wax and more.

As one of the world’s largest global suppliers of power tools, Secure Tools supply to a range of industries worldwide. 

 

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