South Africa, along with the rest of the world, is still reeling from the aftermath of the pandemic. As the cost of living continues to increase while salaries remain stagnant, many are having to cut back to make ends meet.

According to CapeTalk, food prices in the country have been spiraling since the pandemic, with the price of some basic necessities increasing by over 30% – so it’s more than the little luxuries that South Africans are having to go without.

With less disposable income, the first things to go are discretionary expenses like takeaway coffee, delivered lunches, and getting a full valet wash for your car.

But if you want to save while keeping your car shining, there are a few tips and tricks that’ll enable you to wash your car at home just like the professionals do!

What you’ll need

  • A garden hose with good water pressure
  • Two buckets (one with soapy water and one with clean water)
  • A professional car cleaning solution
  • A chamois cloth
  • A handheld vacuum cleaner, or a normal vacuum cleaner with a long extension cable
  • A rubber squeegee or newspaper for the windows
  • Car wax
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Baking soda

When to wash your car

It’s a classic case of Murphy’s Law that the skies will open up right after you’ve washed your car. If you want your car to shine for more than a few hours, remember to check the weather forecast for the next week.

The worst time of day to wash your car is during the middle of the day while the sun is high – not only will your car be hot to the touch, but soapy water may also dry on your car before you’ve had a chance to rinse it off, leading to unsightly watermarks.

There’s no hard and fast rule for how often you should wash your car. Generally, experts agree once every two weeks is sufficient, as it takes around two weeks for your car to build up enough dirt to make the wash worth it.

If you’re meticulous or park your car outside, there’s no harm in washing it more often – but you shouldn’t wash your car less than once a month. Also, be warned, bird droppings contain acids that can eat into your paint and should be cleaned as soon as possible.

Get your exterior sparkling

Start with hosing down your tyres and undercarriage as these are the dirtiest parts of the car. Once you’ve gotten rid of all the dirt you can, clean within the grooves of the rims with a chamois or cloth. This will get your chamois pretty dirty, so make sure you don’t use it on the rest of your car after cleaning your rims.

Once the tyres are clean, spray down your car with the garden hose and prepare your two buckets of water (one soapy, the other clean). You’ll want to start on your roof and work your way down alternating between soapy and clean water – make sure to rinse each area with clean water as you go to prevent soap marks.

Once you’re done, rinse your car off with the garden hose one final time. If you’re meticulous, you can dry your car with a microfiber cloth or simply let nature take its course before applying wax.

Get streak-free clean windows

When washing your windows, you can use a bunch of fancy products or you can take it back to the tried-and-tested favourites: A household window cleaning solution and newspaper.

Cleaning windows with newspaper isn’t just an old wives’ tale – newspaper is eco-friendly, streak-free, and best of all, you probably already have some scrunched up in a nook or cranny of your home or garage.

What’s on the inside counts

The first thing you want to do is vacuum your entire interior, and remember to take out your car carpets or mats so you can vacuum under there too.

Once that’s done, clean your dashboard and centre console with a microfiber cloth (their unique fibre structure will clean 99% of bacteria) and a dedicated cleaning solution. To get into crevices, you can use an old toothbrush or canned air.

When it comes to your seats, leather is the easiest to clean – simply vacuum then mix a cleaning solution of five drops of dish soap to two cups of water into a spray bottle. Spray your seats, wipe them down and voila! Just like new.

Material seats can be a bit trickier. If you’re lucky, you’re just dealing with surface dirt, but who are we kidding? If you have pets or small kids, you’ll almost definitely need to put some elbow grease into this.

After vacuuming your seats, mix one cup of water, a half-cup of vinegar, and a half-tablespoon of dish soap into a spray bottle. Wherever you find stains, spray then blot with a microfibre cloth. It may take a few rounds of spraying, blotting, and letting it dry until you get the dirt out, and some stains (like oil-based ones) may be with you for life.

Smells like teen spirit

Kids, pets, or your old gym bag can cause things to get a little funky (don’t worry, we won’t judge). The first thing you should do is clean out any garbage or belongings left behind and let your car air out – if you’re lucky, this will be enough to get your car smelling fresh.

If Lady Luck isn’t on your side this time, sprinkle some baking soda onto your seats and floors and leave it to set for at least 20 minutes before vacuuming. Baking soda is great for getting rid of odours – you can even toss some into your washing machine to make gym clothes smell brand new or use it to clean when your pets have had an accident in the home.

For a more heavy-duty solution, you can use an enzyme cleaner (available at most pet shops) on the source of most pet- or kid-related accidents to get rid of any odours.

Whether you’re a meticulous weekly cleaner or a laidback bimonthly washer, keep your ride covered in more ways than one! Our Motor Warranty options let you choose a package perfectly suited to your lifestyle and budget, starting from R303pm. Get a free online quote here.