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Top 10 most common car cleaning and valeting mistakes

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November 23, 2022
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There’s nothing quite like having a squeaky clean car fresh from being valeted parked outside your house. It may look clean but is it really?  We asked our friends at Mawsley Detailing – who provide high-quality valeting and detailing services for both private clients and at events – to identify the common errors people make when cleaning their cars.  

Mawsley is official detailer to BTCC and keeps classic cars looking their best at three of the largest Concours events in the UK: London Concours, Concours of Elegance and Heveningham Concours. The company is also an ambassador for Autoglym’s professional product range.

Person cleaning Porsche

We asked Mawsley owner and founder Chris McCleery what people miss and the mistakes they make when cleaning and valeting their vehicles. This is what he said.

1. Don’t use too much product

One of the biggest mistakes is using too much product – way too much product. For example, people sometimes put too much polish on the vehicle. The more polish you put on, the harder and longer you have to work to polish it all off again.

Always remember the polish should do the work as you are putting it on. So if you just smear it on and try to wipe it off, it’s not actually doing any work. It’s basically just caked on and you are trying to get it off again.

2. Wash, rinse, dry, repeat

Windscreens and glass in general is one of the biggest problem areas for most people. I always use a good-quality glass cleaner and a brand new multi-fibre cloth every time. 

And, once again, less is more, especially with the inside of the windscreen. Use a little bit of product and work it in. Sometimes you might have to do it two or even three times to get the desired finish. 

3. Beware of the hidden danger of rust

People often neglect to clean under the wheel arches, which is a big mistake. If you don’t clean under the arches and the muck stays there and salt builds up, it can lead to rust. 

4. Remember to tackle areas that are out of sight too

Door hinges and door shuts is another favourite of mine that most people miss. I think that’s because, when the door is shut, they are out of sight and out of mind, but I like to get them washed and polished even if I can’t see them. 

5. Don’t let cleaning products dry on the vehicle

Many people leave products on their vehicles for too long, in some cases allowing them to dry. This is quite common when people are washing their vehicle down with clear water and the phone rings and they decide to answer it and have a conversation. When they come back 10 minutes later, they find big white spots all over the vehicle where the products have dried hard. That’s not nice to look at and means more work washing them off again. 

Person wiping down a racing car

6. Don’t forget the tyres

Another thing many people miss is their tyres. They spend hours washing and polishing their car but don’t dress the tyres. OMG. 

7. Clean all around the wheels

People also tend to wash the face of the wheels only, rather than cleaning all around the backs of the wheels too. That’s OK if you can’t see through them, but on a five spoke alloy wheel, which you can see through, it looks horrendous. 

8. Drop the windows an inch before cleaning them

Another area that people miss is the top edge of the window glass, the bit that slides up under the rubber when you wind your window up. Always drop your glass down and do that top edge, wind it up and then do the rest of the glass. 

9. Remember the plastic wheel arch covers

Another area people miss is the inside of the wheel arches when they are plastic lined. Apply your product and give them a good clean and they’ll look very good indeed. 

10. Make sure you clean the roof too

The last area that most people tend to slip up with is the roof. You may need to invest in a step ladder to get to it, especially if you have a van or 4×4, but just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean you don’t have to clean it. 

Person cleaning down race car

Want more tips? Read our blog to learn five pro tips on cleaning and valeting your classic or modified car. And if getting great results in your DIY car valeting still seems like hard work, give Chris a call on 07766 863193.

Great insurance, whatever your vehicle

And once your classic, modified or standard production car is sparkling again, now would be a good time to dust down your insurance documents. For the best classic car cover at a great price, call Adrian Flux on 0333 270 4929 for a swift no-hassle quote – 81.5% of customers receiving an online quote in August 2022 could have obtained a cheaper quote over the phone.


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