5 Tips for Cleaning a Classic Car

Your classic car is your pride and joy. As the days get longer and the sun (hopefully) blesses us with her appearance, it’s time to hit the road and enjoy the inimitable pleasure of driving a vehicle crafted by artisans of yesteryear.

Of course, gleaming paintwork and polished metal goes hand in hand with the best of driving experiences. As passionate car detailers we know a thing or two about making a car look its very best. So if we had to define 5 crucial elements about cleaning a classic car on a regular basis, they would be as follows:

1. Cleaning a classic car: Hand wash only

No matter how much a car wash provider tells you that it’s safe to put a classic car through their facility, you should avoid this at all costs. There are a few reasons for this:

a)     Automatic car washes do not dry a vehicle adequately. This leads to corrosion over time

b)    Automatic car washes miss spots, leaving a less than perfect sheen to your beloved vehicle

c)    Automatic car washes can’t get into all the nooks and crannies, nor do they provide the necessary gentle touch to ensure no damage occurs

2. Cleaning a classic car: Use the right equipment

Forget sponges and brushes, a classic car deserves only the softest of tools. This means high quality microfibre wash mitts or cloths should be the only types used to clean the car. This should be followed by a soft clean microfibre towel to gently dry the paintwork. Autoglym does a hybrid microfibre called Instadry that is brilliant.

Don’t skimp on the cloths as you should use multiple ones for different areas of the car. For instance, most of the grime and oil will collect on the underside and around the wheels and arches. Therefore, the cloths used here should not be used on the rest of the paintwork as they’ll just transfer unwanted contamination. Always wash them after a single use and remember, no fabric softener!

Select the cleaning detergent with care as many contain abrasives that wear away the paint. Choose a gentle, high quality option and use it sparingly and as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Cleaning a classic car: Rinse and dry thoroughly

It’s essential to rinse every last speck of detergent from the car and to dry it thoroughly. Water pools in many areas of the car – and this is just the environment rust needs to thrive. The drying process is perhaps one of the most important of all when it comes to cleaning a classic car, so take your time and mop up every drop. Microfibres are good, but if you want to do the 5-star approach, get a BigBoi Blower

4. Cleaning a classic car: Polish any chrome

Gleaming chrome is one of the best aspects of many classic cars – but it needs lots of TLC to remain this way. Use a high-quality chrome polish and use it after every single wash. We have to say, there’s something uniquely satisfying at standing back and admiring your handiwork as the sunlight reflects from the beautifully polished chrome that adorns your beloved vehicle.

5. Cleaning a classic car: Don’t forget the carpet

Diving in with a vacuum cleaner might seem the obvious way to clean the carpet. However, this can grind the dirt into the fibres if you’re not careful. Instead, use a compressed air sprayer to lift the dirt before you vacuum. When you do use a vacuum, don’t be tempted to use the hand attachments with brushes. These can cause scuffs along the trim or damage aging carpets.

The key messages are to use the right equipment, be gentle, thorough and take your time. That way your motor won’t only look its best when you hit the road, but you’re ensuring its longevity for many years to come. 

Classic car ownership is to enter an exclusive club. Once you’ve experienced the majesty and luxury of driving a car from a bygone era, no other type of vehicle will ever hit the spot, so enjoy…

You might also find our articles on properly cleaning your alloy wheels and how to clean your leather seats useful.


Image by Leif Rohwedder from Pixabay

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Super Car and Luxury Car Detailing & Protection

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