Well, it’s that time of year again. As the weather warms up, your excuses about the ever-growing pile of empty soda cans and beef jerky bags on the passenger-side floorboard of your rig will become less and less defensible. That’s why we all observe the time honored tradition of the Spring Clean.
Now, sure, spring cleaning generally refers to household sprucing-up or an office clean-out of archived files and such. But, your office (and sometimes your household!) is your truck. You need to make sure that baby looks presentable.
If you’ve never detailed your own truck before (and let’s face it, some of you haven’t), here are a few simple tips for getting your rig back into respectable condition this spring so you feel nice and refreshed again in the mornings, when you slide behind the wheel.
Imagine cleaning the kitchen. You don’t sweep the floors first, do you? All that junk on the counter is going to end up on the floor at some point, so you don’t want to have to double back on your work.
The same philosophy applies with when detailing your semi-truck. You want to clear out the interior of trash, shake out your mats, wipe out the dust, etc. before you get started on wiping down the exterior. Obviously, all of that debris will scatter onto your tires and your exterior in the process, so make sure you do it first.
** If you’re detailing your interior, avoid using any shiny products on the dashboard. Now that the sun is coming back, you want to avoid any glare so close to your line of vision while you’re driving.
Also be careful with finishing for your floor mats. Anything slippery that can transfer to your shoes is a safety hazard and should be avoided.
Work toward the Middle:
Most professionals will start a semi-truck detailing job with the wheels as soon as the exterior is ready for cleaning. If you don’t have high shine material on your exterior, it’s recommended to use a degreaser to get started and make the whole process easier for yourself. If not, avoid the degreaser, as it can cause spots and blotches on a high-shine finish.
Once the wheels are done, remove blobs of grease from around the truck, but avoid attempting to clean off the fifth wheel, even if the grease is very dirty. This is a long, arduous process that will need to be immediately undone for functionality anyway.
You’ll want to continue your process from the roof of the truck down to control the flow of dirty water and grime and not need to repeat yourself. You will need to do one final rinse of the wheels after this, but by starting with them, you avoided the possibility of splattering wheel dirt onto your paint.
There are more wash pads/mitts/scrubbers out there than we could possibly go over. Even if you’re choosing to work with an old bath towel, try to have at least two on hand. The grime in the lower half of the vehicle will be thicker and tougher to remove than the upper half, so splitting the wash job between two designated cleaners is a good course of action.
Be sure to know whether you’re polishing chrome or aluminum and purchase the appropriate products for your rig. Professional semi-truck detailing will employ wool pads for chrome and something like 3D Deep Blue Polish to accomplish that sought-after mirror look.
For window cleaning, buy high quality microfiber cloths to avoid scratching and splotches. You can make your own glass cleaner with water and alcohol or buy the good stuff from a professional supplier. We recommend splurging on the professional stuff. Try something like Stoner’s Invisible Glass, available at stores like Walmart.
Drying it off:
Prior to drying, you’re going to want to crank up the engine and allow it to blow out whatever residual soot, dirt, etc. has built up during the cleaning process. Press on the gas a bit to get the rpm going and make sure you’re in the clear.
If you do this while the truck is still wet, it’ll be as easy as hosing it down one last time to clean away the mess. If you dry it first, you’ll need to start over completely, so be sure to do this step.
For drying itself, do not air dry or use your home towels. Use a waffle weave towel that absorbs water evenly without scraping against your paint. These are also called shammies, and can be purchased anywhere with an auto section.
Best of luck with your projects! We here at Star Nation wouldn’t be averse to some before-and-after pictures if you care to share ‘em. Also, leave any pro-tips you’ve found firsthand in the comments.
Happy Spring, everyone.