The Methods Experts Use To Wash & Detail Your Car In Seattle & Bellevue

If you’re like most car or truck owners in Seattle and Bellevue, you want a car that looks like it was just driven off the showroom floor.

You don’t want just a car that’s clean, but that practically shimmers and gleans.

But to get that kind of results, you’d need steam washing, microfiber towels, sponges, brushes, maybe a toothbrush, lots of rags, conditioning products, wax, and perhaps even cotton swabs.

It’s not just about washing and cleaning a car, but also about detailing, And getting your car to look like a showroom car, you need to learn the trade secrets of professional detailers.

When you detail, washing is just the first step. You also need to consider how to clean wheels, windows, trim and other parts of the car using products that are customized for the job.

Here at Eco Car Cafe in Seattle & Bellevue, we use the proven and superior method of steam car washing.

You can find our car washing and detailing pricelist here, and if you’d like, you can click here to book an appointment for your car wash or detailing.

How & Why Steam Wash For Cars or Trucks In Seattle Is Superior To Other Methods

You can read more about our steam car wash and eco-friendly method but here’s a quick summary of how your car or truck benefits:

  • Steam car washing conserves the most water. It’s effective and eco-friendly. A regular tunnel car wash wastes 100’s of gallons, despite re-use.
  • Steam car washing gives you hand-washing results, including wheels and hard-to-reach areas. Regular car washes with spinning brushes can damage aftermarket parts, mirrors, antennas, and other parts, and lacks the attention to detail and thoroughness.
  • Steam car washing loosen grime and dirt from bugs, sap, and tar without the use of harsh chemicals, and can also be used for cleaning and sanitizing the interior of your car.

Aside from this, we have also put together a list on how to detail every area of your car for eye-popping results.

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Expert Car Wash & Detailing Methods For All Areas Of Your Car

1. Start With The Car Interior

By cleaning out the inside first, you are ensuring that the dust and grime that you sweep out won’t settle on a newly cleaned exterior.

Your first step is to take out the floor mats, then vacuum the upholstery and the carpets. But don’t stop there. Include the dashboard and the shelf at the back of the car when you use the vacuum.

Be sure to move your front seats as far forward and backward as possible in order to thoroughly clean the interior. Dirt, garbage, and even change, accumulates here.

2. Cleaning Carpet

If your carpets are relatively clean but have a few small stains, you can easily get rid of them with foaming cleaner.

The method to use is saturating the stain and then work it in deeply using a sponge that you’ve dampened. Leave it alone for a few minutes to let it work its way into the stain. Next, blot out the stain with clean cloths or paper towels. If the stain persists, just repeat the process until it is gone. But don’t saturate the carpet too much because you run the risk of having mildew grow.

Burns and holes are a problem with carpets in the car. The best way to handle it is by cutting them out of the carpet with a razor blade and inserting a piece cut to the same shape. Just find a spot that isn’t visible and cut out the shape you need, like under the seat. First apply an adhesive that is resists water to the piece of carpet, then push it into the hole. Brush the carpet to make it blend in and look normal.

Finally, take out the rubber floor mats and wash them thoroughly. Apply a coating that helps to keep them clean and resistant to stains. Make sure it isn’t slippery, which can cause problems getting in and out of the car.

3. Hard Surfaces in the Car

  • Strong Cleaning Agents, diluted by a ratio of 10 to 1, is a good, all-purpose cleaner that works well on the interior surfaces of your vehicle. Actually, any mild soap that is labeled all-purpose will work fine. You need to experiment to find the right amount of water to use. Dampen a cloth with the detergent and water mix and rub it on the hard surfaces of your car’s interior.
  • Vinyl seat coverings require a different approach. Use a conditioner that is specially made for vinyl. Never use a conditioner that results in a slippery coating or one that produces a high gloss look. You and your passengers will end up slipping and sliding.
  • Leather conditioner is a must for leather surfaces. And never try to use a vinyl conditioner on leather. To last and look its best, leather needs to be treated with respect.

4. Repairing Surfaces

If you have torn areas on your vinyl surfaces or areas where it looks worn, use a repair kit that is available from most car part stores. The patches you can make with these kits let you match both the color and the grain, so the finished repair looks like the surrounding vinyl.

Leather can also be fixed. Use dyes or even high-end shoe polish to touch up areas that look worn or cracked. The important thing with leather is to match the color as exactly as possible.

5. Cleaning the Dashboard

Car Wash & Detail - Seattle, Bellevue, WA - Eco Car CafeThe dash is a minefield of crevices, nooks, buttons and bezels. But don’t despair, you can get it looking showroom fresh again. A cleaning rag won’t work though. This area calls for special tactics.

First use compressed air, sold in cans, to shoot away dirt and dust. If you can’t find this in the car supply store, check a camera or electronics store.

Next pull out the cotton swabs. Use them to get into the tiny gaps and crannies, removing the built-up dirt. Be sure to use a product that matches the finish of your dashboard. For example, if it has a matte finish, you don’t want to use a product that produces a high-gloss shine.

The grilles for the air vents are a challenge. Use the swabs on them first. Then perk them up with a vinyl and rubber dressing that sprays on. You don’t need much. This type of product also works well on wood trim that is marred with minor scuff marks. To lighten them up, use a soft towel with the product sprayed on it and gently rub the wood trim.

6. Glass and Plastic

Gauge lenses are usually made of plastic or glass, so use a cleaner made specifically for them. Never use wax. First take off knobs or other components that are easy to remove and then clean the bezels that are underneath.

This is also the way to get rid of the haze that often settles on car windows. Wipe them down with a high quality glass cleaner to get rid of it. If it has been a long time since you cleaned the windows, you may have spots that don’t immediately respond the glass cleaner. In that case, pull out a steel wool pad in 4-ought strength and scrub the offending areas gently.

7. After Market Tints

If you have window tint film on your car done after-market, you need to proceed with caution. Cleaners with ammonia or vinegar can harm the finish. This is not true of factory tinting, which is actually in the glass. On these windows, you can safely use all types of window cleaners.

Try rinsing after-market tints with seltzer water, then wipe with crumpled newspaper. This also works with factory tinted windows.

8. Cleaning Painted Finishes

When you wash your car’s exterior, first make sure its surface is cool when you touch it. Do the washing in a shaded area if you can. Use a soap specially made for washing cars. Detergent that you use around the house is not the right type.

Clean it in sections and work from the top down to the bottom. The lower part of the car always picks up more dirt and also the more abrasive type of grime, so take extra care with these areas.

When you rinse, don’t spray it with the hose. Instead, take off the spray attachment and really flood the exterior. When you rinse this way, the water will run off in sheets, which results in much less spotting.

Don’t let the car air dry. Instead use a chamois or thick towel made of terry cloth to dry it by hand.

Our steam car wash is a superior method to most washes.

9. Washing the Wheels

Car Washing, Auto Detailing - Seattle, Bellevue, WA - Eco Car CafeWheels can accumulate large amounts of grime, so you need to use the high-pressure setting on your hose to loosen the dirt. An all-purpose cleaner is the best choice for washing.

Start with the wheel wells. When you have removed all the grime and rinsed them well, add a vinyl dressing for shine and protection.

The wheels should be cool to the touch when you clean them. Use a brush specially made for wheels. Match your cleaner to the type of wheels your car has. For example, don’t use a cleaner with an acid base on a polished alloy wheel or one that is clear-coated. Metal polish or glass cleaner works best on chrome wheels.

10. Protecting Painted Surfaces

Minor scratches on paint are common. Inspect the exterior surface of your car after washing it. Use a cleaner that is safe for clear-coats. Use one with the least abrasive qualities to start with. If that doesn’t do the job, then step it up level by level to a more abrasive type. As a final step, use a machine buffer.

You can also get rid of signs of minor scratches with a good quality clear wax or mild polish. If you find scratches that penetrate the clear-coat, you need to get them fixed professionally.

11. Better Polishing

Auto Detailing Seattle, Bellevue, WA - Eco Car CafeFor a really professional detailing, apply polish to the doorjambs and spots that are beneath the hinges and behind the bumpers. This is the time for exactness. One good way to get to hard-to-reach areas is by wrapping a piece of cotton cloth around your index finger and brushing the area to polish the finish.

Polish not only makes the surface gleam, it also keeps the paint from drying out. By polishing you are adding years to the good looks of your car. It is safest to use an orbital machine buffer, which doesn’t burn the paint.

Handle the plastic chrome on your newer car with a light coating of wax, just like you treat a painted surface.

Be sure to keep polish and wax off rubber, plastic areas that are a flat black finish, door handles and emblems. For flat black areas, clean these with a product that is made for a non-gloss finish.

If you end up with spots of wax on these areas, use a product that sprays on and wipes off to get rid of it. If the wax is still on after this treatment, you can use the old peanut butter trick. Microwave peanut butter and apply with a toothbrush to the area. It dissolves wax and lifts stains.

Cotton swabs work well for wax trapped in crevices. Toothbrushes are handy for slightly larger areas. Wet the area to be treated as you can damage a surface by brushing it dry. The damp toothbrush is also good for getting rid of wax on exterior trim.

12. Under the Hood

First wrap electronics in plastic before attempting to clean under the hood. When they are protected, you can spray on all-purpose cleaner that has been diluted. Hose it off with your garden hose set at very light pressure.

Use a vinyl or rubber protectant to make the non-metal components look clean and shiny. If you let it soak in for a few minutes, the result will be a glossy look. When you want a matte-looking finish, simply wipe it off quickly, without soaking in.

13. Finish Up with the Tires

Clean your whitewalls with a tire cleaner from the auto parts store. This works well on black walls too. Afterward, apply tire dressing. You will get a glossy look if you let it soak in and a matt look if you wipe it off quickly.

Make sure that the tires are dry before you drive the car. If you move it too soon, you will end up with road spatter on your new finish.

The Proven Eco-Friendly Concept of Steam Car Washing

At Eco Car Cafe, we use this cutting-edge service in Seattle (and Bellevue) because of it’s eco-friendliness, ability to conserve water, effectiveness, and superior car washing and detailing results.

This method is in use in other cities with strict environmental standards, such as Los Angeles, Dallas, and Miami.

You can read more about it here.

11 Expert Tips For Car Detailing In Seattle & Bellevue

To get the most out of car detailing, especially with the kind of environment your car or truck is put through in Seattle and Bellevue, you need to use the proper car detailing products, supplies, tools, and methods.

Proper car care, both inside and out, takes a lot of effort. While the right products are important, getting your car to look amazing again depends more on how you perform the wash and detail.

If you use the right kind of detailing methods, you don’t need every product there is to add years to the life of your car and make it look clean and new.

Here is a list of the best methods top detailers use to bring back the shine on your car.

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Here Are 11 Quick Tips For Car Detailing In Seattle & Bellevue

Tip #1: Use one bucket for the car wash product, one for water

Using two buckets will provide a better clean. Fill one bucket with soapy water and the other with clean water, and wash out dirt and grime in the bucket of water before re-dipping any cloth, sponge, or mitts in the bucket with car wash cleaner.

When using a cleaning mitt or sponge, make sure that you rinse it out in the water bucket after each swiping before dipping it in the car wash cleaner bucket. This prevents you from re-using dirty water and putting clean soapy water on your car’s exterior instead.

If you only use one bucket, you take grime off the car but won’t get your cloth or mitts clean enough and you risk getting scratches on the paint from dirt particles and small rocks.

You can also add a tray to help the dirt sediment settle at the bottom of the bucket. The advantage here is that the sediment doesn’t get stirred back into the water each time you dip your mitt into the bucket.

Tip #2: Use microfiber towels

Microfiber towels are a revolutionary advance in cleaning. The best way to use them is assign certain tasks to specific colors of towels (determine a color for washing, drying and rinsing). This makes the entire process easier and more streamlined. The results are fewer scratches and an easier time with washing and cleaning.

  • When it’s time to launder them, be sure to put the microfiber towels in their own load in the washer. Don’t put them in with rags and other clothing and linen as microfiber is a magnet for lint from cotton and will make them ineffective when it comes to cleaning your car.
  • Use a very small amount of detergent and never use fabric softener, which applies a coating to the fibers and prevents them from cleaning effectively. Put them through the rinse cycle twice, which is good for the surface of the towels.
  • Remember to remove the labels and excess stitching on the microfiber before you use them on your car because they can scratch the surface.
  • Don’t buy cheap towels. If you want to get your car really clean and do it with speed, invest in quality microfiber cloths from a specialty store, not the warehouse store.

Tip #3: Begin with the trim

After a wash and your car is dry, apply a protector to your trim. It repels the wax and polish that you will be applying in the next step. These substances can easily stain or otherwise mark the trim on your car’s exterior. If you don’t want to buy the protector, you can use masking tape on your trim from the wax.

Tip #4: Apply products with a buffer

It can be confusing to figure out how to use specialty tools for cleaning your car. One tool you will want to get is a car buffer, made specifically for applying wax.

After the application, use dry cloths that are very soft to remove the excess. Using this two-step approach, you won’t damage the clear coat you just applied. The result is a uniform coat of wax.

Tip #5: Invest in a polisher

The type you want is a dual-action polisher, not a direct drive polisher or an orbital polisher.

If you get one with forced rotation (this is what keeps it in motion even with a heavy load), pay attention to how you use it – it can damage your car if you use it incorrectly.

Tip #6: Remove contaminants with the clay bar system

This involves using a spray lubricant, a clay bar of 80 to 100 grams, and a towel. First you wash and dry the exterior of your car. Then you put the clay bar on the paint, rubbing gently, to get rid of what is officially called “bonded environmental contaminants.”

It does the job without harming the paint and taking off part of its thickness. This makes the surface much smoother, so that the polishing and waxing is done more easily and the results are more effective. It also makes your car surface last longer.

Tip #7: Car detailing gives you another use for grocery store bags

Use a plastic bag from your last trip to the supermarket to check how well you’ve managed to get rid of the dirt. This step follows your use of the clay bar system.

  • Put your hand inside the plastic bag, wearing it like a mitt.
  • Run the bag over the car’s exterior. You will be able to feel bumps and tiny imperfections. If you encounter many, you will need to use the clay bar system again.
  • Keep repeating the process with the bag after each re-do until the surface is completely smooth.
  • When it is, then you can polish the surface and put on a protective coating of wax.

Tip # 8: Get the glass really clean by going two directions:

When you dry your car windows, do it in one direction outside and the other inside. For example, always wipe horizontally inside the car and vertically outside. The result will be crystal clear car windows and no more streaks.

Tip #9: Use a brush

You get a better result with brushing than with chemicals when it comes to cleaning the inside of your car and works well on carpets and door panels. Get rid of problems in your carpet with the use of a stiff nylon brush. This frees up the dirt so that the vacuum makes a clean sweep.

You can also use this on the door panels, a spot that many beginners miss. Use a brush that is softer than the carpet brush, though, so you don’t harm the surface. If dirt is still showing up, use a fabric cleaner and dry with a cloth made of soft cotton.

Tip #10: Use static electricity to your advantage

Certain kinds of dirt, lint, and hair is hard to get out, whether the carpets are in your house or in the car. To do a thorough job, first get latex gloves that you can find at any home improvement center. They are usually sold in boxes of 100.

Gently rub your hand over the carpet you want to clean. The latex in the glove causes static electricity, which automatically brings the dirt up to the surface of the carpet. At that point it is much easier to remove, using either a vacuum or your hand.

Tip #11: Don’t touch the headliner

This is a delicate object. A small amount of agitation can loosen the glue, which is bad news because they are hard to get back on. Avoid the area if at all possible. If you really need to give it a clean, use just a small amount of moisture. Don’t allow it to soak through the outer fabric.

Do your best for your car and it will repay you many times over. Keeping it clean does more than giving you bragging rights. It also adds years to the life of your car and improves its resale value.

Find The Right Car & Auto Detailers in Seattle & Bellevue

Finding a competent detailer takes some research. There are two professional organizations, the national Association for Professional Detailing & Reconditioning, NAPDR, and the Professional Detailers Association, PDA, that can help you.

However, they don’t guarantee competence. To find a good one, you need to get recommendations from friends and car enthusiasts, check out detailers, and ask for references.

You will find that our practices, methods, and standards are “best in class”, and that we’re committed to excellence, innovation, and eco-friendliness.