Automotive cleaning products are crowding the aisles now that spring is here and the ugly, wet and generally unpleasant winter weather is in the rearview mirror. With summer on the way, it’s time to have your car looking its best, and there’s no better way to do that than with a little elbow grease, a bucket full of suds and some high-quality wax and polish.
Check out these six must-have car cleaning items now that summer is almost here.
1. Car Wash Soap
Forget using a harsh cleaner like dish soap on your vehicle — you want one of the car cleaning products that’s been specifically formulated to protect your paint while still scrubbing away grease, grime and gunk. Car wash soap gives you the suds you need without stripping wax from your vehicle’s finish, and it’s great for removing all the built-up dirt and salt left over from months of winter driving.
2. Wash Mitt
A wash mitt is a great addition to any list of summer car cleaning products. While a sponge can easily trap small rocks and dirt and create spirals of micro-scratches on your paint, a soft mitt that’s carefully rinsed and never touches the ground is less likely to do so. Make sure you use one mitt for the top of your vehicle and a second mitt on the lower portions (including the wheels) to minimize the chances of swirling.
3. Clay Bar
A clay bar is an often-overlooked entry in the arsenal of car cleaning products. It’s a simple way to give your paint that post-winter deep cleanse that it needs. After washing your car with soap, using a clay bar can draw out contaminants from the paint that a wash mitt can’t dislodge. Doing so will leave behind a smooth surface that’s ready for the summer sun.
Is your paint looking a little dull? Polish removes the oxidized top layer of clear coat, letting the color below shine through strong and bright. A quick polish — whether by hand or a random-orbit polisher — is a great way to restore your vehicle’s luster.
Once your vehicle is clean and polished, it’s time to lock in that shine with a layer of protective wax. Waxing your car adds a barrier between it and the sun, rain and pretty much the entire outside world. That barrier keeps the clear coat below protected and adds an extra depth to the paint that can be buffed to a beautiful shine.
Your engine bay deserves some love, too. If it’s seen better days, a great way to wash away the grime is with a degreaser that will attack the baked-on gunk. Follow the instructions carefully, cover electrical components with plastic bags and rinse everything off after a good soak.
Keeping your car clean and detailed can be a fun bonding experience between you and your vehicle — and a nice way to kick off the summer.
Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on automotive cleaning products, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Morguefile.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.