Who would have thought that cleaning that lump of plastic, metal, timber or fibreglass that houses your car’s instruments and radio could be such a chore to get clean and keep that way?
Dashboards made of unusual materials need special cleaning techniques but the plastic dash is these days by far the most common so we will focus on it. To clean first you must dust and just be careful what you use and where dislodged contaminants might go. Most cars have demister vents that run along the base of the windscreen and you don’t want to fill these with more dust than they already harbour.
Before cleaning, run your heater and demister with the fan setting on high. Once you feel the glass getting warm switch it off, clean carefully around the vents then cover them. Thin strips of masking tape are ideal.
Using a cleaner formulated for use on automotive plastics, spray small sections of the dash-top then wipe with a soft cloth. A packet of pipe cleaners from the hobby shop is ideal for removing gunk that collects around rotary switches (if you can remove the switch without breaking it then do that) and getting to the dust that collects inside ventilation outlets.
A thin blade used carefully will get into joins between plastic panels, especially where the central dash panel joins the console. Digging gunge out of cup-holders and the central storage bin is a job for a long screwdriver with cloth soaked in vinyl cleaner wrapped around the blade. If that doesn’t work, try a squirt of household kitchen cleaner first.
Automotive carpets aren’t made from the same materials as household floor-coverings and cleaning them with conventional products can cause damage. If you don’t have an automotive fabric cleaner, use a mild solution of household stain remover on a section that isn’t easily seen. Leave it for a few minutes then dab with a cloth, looking for fibres separating and the dye coming out on the cloth. If all is fine, follow the instructions then leave the car doors open to assist drying and allow any odour to waft away.
Older vehicles with vinyl floor coverings can be cleaned using hot water and a commercial cleaning product then dried and polished with an old towel.
Cleaning car windows is a time-consuming job and they can look worse when finished if the wrong techniques are employed. Professionals recommend washing and cleaning the outside of the glass first so smears and missed areas are easier to see from inside.
Wash the windows with a proprietary car wash then before they dry use a thin scraper blade to remove spots of tar, dead bugs and built up grime. Finish them with a car-specific window wash and fine cloth (micro-fibre or similar). Work from the edges to the centre, not in circles which leave swirls.
Inside glass needs to be done when the windows are cool and from the top down. When cleaning side-glass remember to open the window slightly to get the part at the top that is hidden by the draught excluder.
Again, use an automotive-specific glass cleaner which will remove the film that forms on windows as interior vinyls break down. Cars with window tinting can require special cleaning products and techniques so contact a tint installer if no details come with the car.
Keeping your car clean is just one aspect of ensuring it’s protected. Enthusiast Insurance takes care of all your family’s vehicles in the event of a crash, hail damage, flood, fire or theft. For an initial quote, visit www.enthusiast.com.au and if you need further assistance use the 1800 numbers to contact a member of Enthusiast’s helpful Claims or Customer Service staff.