How to clean your car correctly

female driving instructor Leamington

ask a family member or friend if you can clean theirs. They may even be generous enough to give you money for this kind favor.

You will want to tackle the exterior first

Before starting, you need to make sure you have the correct supplies. If you have a pressure washer you will be done in no time, but for those who do not a trusty bucket and sponge will do the trick.

Some washing up liquids can damage the paintwork on a vehicle, avoid using anything that is not specified as being used on vehicles.

Rinse your vehicle down with either a pressure washer or a hose to get rid of any large pieces of dirt, this will prevent scratches. The sponge will also become very dirty, very quickly if you do not remove access dirt. Once rinsing your car, you will need to next use car shampoo. Begin with the roof and work your way down the car. Once you are satisfied that you have removed dirt with your sponge, rinse away the soap, your car should now appear much cleaner.

Now that the car looks much cleaner, you can now dry it. You will need a microfiber towel or rag to dry the surface. If it is a sunny day outside you can let the car air dry, without using a towel. A towel leaves a streak-free finish and desired sparkle.

You can decide to leave this there, or you can then add wax. Adding wax in a circular motion will prevent streaks. Wax prevents fading and discolouration of a car’s paintwork, this can be caused by sun damage. You will need a chamois cloth to wipe over the wax in a circular motion to reveal a shine. If wax gets stuck in small gaps such as between doors or around logos, you can use a soft-bristle toothbrush to remove the wax build-up.

Car wax

The exterior may now appear clean, but what about the interior?

The first thing to do would be to remove all clutter from your car, such as empty bottles. This will give you more space to move around. Take out any mats so that the floor of your car is exposed. To clean these mats, you would:

Fabric: If they are fabric you can use a hoover or carpet brush to clean these.

Rubber: Begin by spraying the mats with a hose or pressure washer to remove surface debris. Then use an all-purpose cleaner, and scrub hard. Give the mats a rinse and put to the side to dry.

car mats

When hoovering your car begin with the floor, then work your way into the crevasses, such as cup holders. To do this you may take off the head of the hoover, as this will reach into smaller tighter places.

Cleaning seats depends on the material.

Fabric: You can hoover the seats first, then use an upholstery cleaner and spray this on.

Leather: Use a specific cleaner for your seats, that is designed for leather seats. Wipes that are made for leather may be your best option.
For the dashboard you can get specific wipes, to clean this. If it is not too dirty, and there is only a thin layer of dust covering, you may just use a cloth.

Final touches – this can be the most fun part, choosing an air freshener! These come in the forms of ones that hang from your central mirror, ones that plug into air vents or those that come in the form of pots that can be put in your cup air freshener


Do you know what some of the dashboard warning lights displayed in your vehicle mean? This article explains the meanings of these below.

Brake warning light

Brake warning light

This is a common sign, as this indicates that the parking brake is on (handbrake) when releasing your parking brake this should disappear. It can also mean that your brake fluid level is low if it appears whilst driving.  If the light is present along with the ABS warning light, this means that the braking system has malfunctioned, and brakes may not work correctly.

ABS warning dashboard

ABS warning light

This is a safety feature that will activate if you need to stop urgently or are driving in icy conditions. If the ABS light appears, your braking should still be normal, it is safe to continue your journey. If this appears with the parking brake warning light it may indicate an issue with the braking system, as explained above.

  Oil warning dashboard

Oil warning light

This informs the driver that the engine oil is low, or the oil pressure is low. It can indicate if the oil temperature is too high. If the oil inside the engine is not moistening the engine it could lead to damage. When this light appears, you should stop as soon as possible and turn off the engine. 

Tyre pressure warning dashboard

Tyre pressure warning light

This means that your tyre pressure is low, this can be caused by a puncture. You can still drive with this light appearing, but only to top this up when air at the closest opportunity. Reduce speed and harsh braking or steering to reduce the risk of tyre damage.

Battery warning light

Battery warning light

This indicates that your car’s battery is not charging. This can be caused by a fault in the car’s electrical system. For example, a faulty battery, a faulty alternator, bad connection, or damage to cables. The car will still drive as normal until the battery is completely dead. When it has died, nothing in the car will work, until charged.

  Brake pad warning dashboard

Brake pad warning light

This indicates that brake pads are worn and are too thin. This warning light will appear before pads are dangerously worn, so you will have time to change them. It can be extremely dangerous if these do not get changed.