Top tips on cleaning your classic...
1 Hose it down
Don’t go steaming straight in there with the shampoo, Mister Keen to Clean – apply the initial cleansing with a hosepipe to wash away all those gritty bits of grime that can scratch your car’s paint if you go in prematurely with a sponge and foamy stuff. Make sure you flush out all the car’s drainage channels on the roof and around the bonnet, where leaves and other debris can gather and eventually cause rot if left to fester. Other crud-attracting areas, especially wheelarches, should be given a thorough hosing – pressure washers aren’t usually necessary unless you’re cleaning a muddy 4x4; they can be too brutal, blasting off delicate paint and chromework if you’re not careful.
2 De-grime the wheels
Wheels are real filth-attractors and prone to getting caked in brake dust. Best to give them a once-over now, so all that grime gets washed away before you start getting down to properly cleaning the rest of the car. Regular old detergent or car shampoo and plenty of elbow grease will do the trick, although there are plenty of specialised wheel cleaners on the market that make the job a lot easier.
3 Time to get foamy
Now’s the time to get your bucket of warm water with added detergent/car shampoo and sponge down all the bodywork and brightwork. Clean one panel at a time, be methodical so you don’t leave yourself open to any ‘Missed a bit!’ jibes, and for best effect go with the lines of the car rather than doing it in a lot of swirly patterns. Use a toothbrush/detailing brush for any hard-to-get-into panel gaps. Then wash it all off again with clean, cold water using a hose or bucket.
4 Shimmy with the chamois
Dry off the excess water using a chamois leather. Once again, go with the lines of the car. Rinse the chamois out in a bucket of clean, cold water and wring it out regularly, changing the water if it gets too clouded with dirt. It’s worth spending a bit of extra time on this stage, to avoid streaking and to make sure there are no residual drops of H20 lurking beneath bits of trim that will cause streaks when you initiate the final polishing stage.
5 Bring on the shine
Best to prime yourself with a cup of tea and a few chocolate biscuits before embarking on this stage, because this is where you’ll be working up a sweat if you’re doing a proper job. Whatever you do, don’t over-apply your chosen polish/wax or it will take you a month of Sundays to polish it all off again – and you’ll probably do your shoulder/arm/back a mischief in the process. Use the product sparingly – you can always add more later if it doesn’t have the desired effect. Use soft, lint-free cloths to apply and polish off, once again following the lines of the car using a smooth, flowing motion.
6 Make the trim tip-top
Any chrome and/or plastic trim will now be begging to get the same treatment as the paintwork, so don’t leave it waiting any longer. Using the appropriate cleaning product, give it all the attention it deserves. Now you’ll feel like standing back and giving yourself a soupçon of well-deserved, non-triumphalist self-congratulation. But hang on, Mister, not just yet – one more thing to do…
7 When I’m cleaning windows
No good polishing your car to a high shine but leaving the windows so dirty you can’t see other motorists’ admiring glances! Take your pick – common-or-garden water with added lemon juice to cut through the grime or dedicated window cleaning liquid, either will do the job. Just make sure you do inside as well as outside – it’s surprising how greasy and grubby the inside of car windows can get.
8 Enjoy the fruits of your labours
OK, now’s the time to put your hands on your hips, puff your chest out and apply those admiring glances to your own handiwork. And maybe go out for a spin, so everyone else can feast their eyes on your car at its very best.