Washing the car (and then tidying the interior!) is one of the bigger chores on your weekend to-do list. And if you're taking the time scrub down your vehicle, don't you want to make sure you're doing it correctly? Thought so. Which is why we asked our experts from the about the common mistakes people make when they clean their ride:
1. You wash it in the hot sun.
Just like sunlight helps you dry off your body after a dip into the ocean, it can also dry your just-rinsed car — but too quickly. This results in water spots, says Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab at the . Instead, try to do this chore in the morning or evening when the sun is less direct.
2. You use dish liquid on the exterior.
Stop! Whatever you do, just stop. While dish detergent is handy in the kitchen, . It's too harsh on the car's paint, and might result in scratches that look like spider webs.
3. You only use one bucket of water.
You actually need two: One for soapy water and one for rinsing, says Rachel Rothman, Technical and Engineering Director at the (and many ). If you rinse your car with the same soapy water with which you've washed it, you risk scratching the car with the dirt that's contaminated that water. Plus, a rinse bucket ensures all the soap gets washed away at the end of the job.
4. You don't clean from top to bottom.
If you're scrubbing down your car's exterior haphazardly in every direction (bottom to top, left to right) then you're doing yourself a disservice, according to Rothman. The best way to prevent streaks is to clean your car from top to bottom, so water doesn't run on to dry patches mid-wash — cleaning in one direction also helps prevent scratches.
5. You forget to clean your tires.
Obviously tires are one of the dirtiest parts of you car (after all, they're what is dragged through who knows what on the road). Which is why it's so important to wash 'em: "They are rotating pieces, so if mud or dirt tracts onto the wheel it may get onto other parts of the vehicle too," says Rothman.
6. You let the hose run while you scrub.
Just like you should turn off the water when you brush your teeth, you should do the same when washing your car — it's a waste of water and many towns have ordinances against this, Forte warns.
7. You don't clean or protect your antenna.
Most new vehicles have antennas that retract into your car when you turn the engine off and ends up dragging filth into your car if they're not clean. One simple way to ward dirt off? Rub the antenna with that will repel gunk.
8. You turn a blind eye to cup holders.
While they're handy for your fast food soda, you might get stuck with a that harbors bacteria if you accidentally spill said drink. To clean them out, throw removable plastic holders into the dishwasher, let them sit 20 minutes, then wipe clean. Or if yours aren't removable opt for warm, soapy water and a little elbow grease instead.
9. You roll down your windows before they're dry.
Did you know it can take your car up to two to three hours to completely dry? Most people don't, and end up rolling down their windows prematurely, which on your just-washed exterior. Patience is a virtue, so just wait a few hours next time.
10. You neglect your floor mats.
This is one of the dirtiest parts of your car, because it's where your shoes track in dirt and debris. , you should first vacuum thoroughly, then attack stains with a remover and a brush if needed, and let dry.
11. You don't think about one of the germiest spots on your car.
. You touch it a lot (especially if you can't pick a radio station!), sun shines directly on it (germs love warmth), and vents that push in and draw out air help circulate bacteria. And since those vents push air into your face, too, you should wipe the dashboard down with a disinfecting wipe regularly.