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Tips and tricks on cleaning a dashboard

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Cleaning a dashboard is no rocket science, but there are tips and tricks that can make the job a little easier. Some will help to clean easier, others will prevent you having to clean another area later on.

Why cleaning a dashboard

The dashboard is a big part of the interior, this means that it will be very noticeable when its clean or dirty. Cleaning the dashboard will also be much nicer to look at. Because of all the small curves and edges, it can be tricky to clean a dashboard properly.

Tips and tricks

  • Always try to work in the shade. Working in the sun might cause a product to dry up quicker than it should and possibly even leave marks.
  • Be careful with solvents. A dashboard is mostly made of plastic, although it looks hard and solid, many solvent can damage the surface very easily.
  • Spray your cleaning/protecting product on a towel first, and then wipe the area. If you spray it directly on the surface, the mist might cause it to go to places you don’t want it to go. If it dries up, it can even stain that area, meaning you’ll have even more to clean.
  • Try not to use heavy cleaners, this sometimes need to wiped down with either water or a neutralizing solution, which might be a bit tricky in the confined space you are working in.
  • Although it is not mandatory, your job would become easier if you removed the front seats.
  • Using to much water might be a problem with all the electrics in and around the dashboard.
  • Marks in the plastic can be hiding to a certain extend by using either a dressing, or shoe polish that you buff out carefully. Both might take a little practice to get the desired result, but will improve the appearance.
  • You can safely use a magic sponge for cleaning, as long as you try not to use to much pressure.
  • Cleaning the windows is easier if you use 1 towel to spray the glass cleaner on (liberally) and then another (waffle weave) towel to wipe it off. Don’t work in big areas, you don’t want the glass cleaner to dry up before you wipe it dry.
  • If you have lacquered wood in the dashboard, this can be very tricky to polish. A glaze might be safer and easier.
  • If you do decide to polish the wood, start out with the lightest polish and polish pad, and don’t apply pressure. The layer of clear coat is very thin, and it is very easy to go through it if it isn’t hard enough.
  • Don’t apply dressing on the top of the dashboard. This will make it shiny, and you don’t want that. A shiny dashboard might reflect to much sun when driving, making it difficult for the driver to see where he is going.
  • Using a brush when cleaning air vents will make it a lot easier to clean. Use a dry brush first and hold the hose from the vacuum cleaner next to it to suck up the dust.
  • Cotton swabs can help to reach difficult areas.
  • A dashboard doesn’t have to look dirty to be dirty. Remember that the dirty dashboard can cause more dirty dust in the air. You are breathing in that air when driving.
  • Soak a towel in normal tap water, don’t wring it. Then spray a cleaning product (like APC) over it (don’t overdo it), and then wring out the towel. By wringing it the cleaning product will be distributed evenly, and because of the water, the product will be diluted. If you don’t dilute it, it can dry up and cause stains.
  • Using demineralized water to dilute your product will help to minimize the chance of stains.
  • A tornador is a tool that can help to clean certain areas more thoroughly.
  • Using an air compressor might help to get dust from hard to reach areas.
  • Don’t use oily products such as olive oil, WD-40 or similar in the dashboard and/or the rubbers. This will not dry up completely and eventually become a sticky surface that dirt holds on to. Some of these products can even start to smell heavily if the car is parked in the sun.
  • Don’t spray a cleaning product directly on surfaces like a radio or switches. The liquid might flow into small crevices that you can’t dry. This can then get into contact with electronics and cause failures and/or electrics problems.
  • There are certain clay-ish type of products that can be used to clean difficult to reach areas. These ‘slimey’ type of blobs can be pressed onto a surface to form it to the shape of the surface. Because it’s a bit sticky, it will pull out the dirt.
  • If you feel like your dashboard might be a bit greasy, you can use a glass cleaner (based on IPA) to degrease it safely.
  • A toothbrush can be used to get into small crevices, however be careful not to scratch sensitive plastics or high glossy surfaces.
  • Claying the inside of the window can help to clean the glass more thoroughly.
  • Besides cleaning, replacing a small worn button can have a big effect.
  • The steering wheel is one of the most dirty things in the interior.

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