Your DIY car detailing checklist

Written by 
Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
Our authors
, updated on June 7th, 2023       

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The maintenance of your vehicle is a must, but it can also be very expensive. For this reason, more Aussies decide to do it by themselves. This is indeed an effective way of sparing money, but if you never dealt with car detailing before, you could use some help.

Some quick facts

  • More than half of Australians (55%) wash their cars less than once a fortnight.
  • Car ownership, including maintenance and running costs, set Aussies back between $5000 and $7000 every year, with a 5 year total of $25000-$36000.
  • As of January 2016, there were 18.4 million registered cars in Australia, which shows a 2.1% increase from last year.
  • Do you also know some other tips to keep your car clean and shiny? Feel free to share them with us in the comment section.

What should a DIY car detailing checklist include?

A DIY car detailing checklist includes all the steps or aspects you should not miss when detailing your vehicle. This is generally focused on three key categories: cleaning, preventive maintenance, and ongoing maintenance.

Cleaning your car

1. Test the cleaning products

If you use special cleaning products, you should test each them on every surface or fabric you are going to use them. Otherwise, you may find out later that you just destroyed a particular area by using an inadequate or erosive product.

2. Get rid of greasy spots

Even though oily stains can be quite stubborn, you can still banish them. Use a 50/50 solution made of thinner and water, and rub it over the spot with a cotton cloth. The next step is to sprinkle some cornmeal over and leave it overnight. In the morning, vacuum the area.

3. Eliminate odours and mess after car sickness

If someone was sick in your car, the smell and stains could remain in the vehicle for a long time. But not if you eliminate them with baking soda and cold water. Make such a solution and use it to clean car sickness spots.

Preventive maintenance

1. Use seat covers

An excellent way to prevent mess and stubborn stains is to cover the seats. For this, you can either buy some covers that are specially designed for your vehicle or use a foam mat or towel. When you have kids, this is a must for your car.

2. Don’t bring any snacks in your car

Even though snacks may be necessary, you don’t have to bring in any type of foods. If you want to avoid the mess, try to stay away from squishy or sticky snacks. Opt for something that can be vacuumed up more easily, such as muesli bars. Ongoing maintenance

3. Always have some wet wipes in your car

A spot is a lot much easier to clean when it was made, than a few hours or days after. This is why you should have a pack of wet wipes on hand, and use them for any sticky mess or dusty surface.

4. Buy a trash can for cars

It is impossible not to have any trash in your vehicle, especially when you travel for long hours. Uneaten crackers, tissues or a takeaway coffee cup can make a real mess in your car if you throw them randomly. But a trash can will help you keep your vehicle tidy.

5. Clean your vehicle each week

An excellent way to maintain your car clean and tidy is to take care of it each week. Only 11% of Aussies do that, but you should clean out your vehicle on Friday, so that you prepare them for the weekend, and also remove any trash or dirty over the week.

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