Plastic has become such a big part of our lives that we see it being used almost everywhere. Our vehicles also have plastic parts since the material is easy to manufacture to any desired shape and it can be made to match the vehicle’s color. These plastic parts are usually door panels, bumpers, interior trim, covers and close-out panels among others. But plastic is a material that also requires some basic car maintenance to keep it clean and looking fresh.
Before you begin with the more tedious parts, go ahead and vacuum the interior of your car in order to get rid of any debris. This way the cleaning products which you will apply later will be able to perform better at making the interior a clean car plastic. If you can use a brush attachment, it will be a big plus as this way you’ll prevent scratching. Make sure to remove the floor mats and shake them off before you start using the vacuum cleaner. Be gentle with vents and knobs as they can easily get damaged.
Using a soft damp cloth or a soft hand-held dust mop, clear away the dust from the plastic parts. To clean off dust from crevices like around the hand brake, gear shift and radio controls use a small soft-bristled paintbrush. You can use q-tips or soft-bristled toothbrush if you can’t get your hands on a soft-bristled paintbrush. After using a damp cloth make sure you go over with a dry soft cloth to ensure that there is no water residue left on the plastic.
If there are stains on plastic parts, you should get a laundry detergent, mild soap or plastic auto cleaner and apply some of it on a damp cloth. Avoid applying any type of cleaning solution directly onto the plastic. Wipe down the whole area until it becomes clean and then again, go over it with a clean cloth to dry it off. When you clean car plastic with the cloth make sure to turn it to a clean spot when it starts to become dirty.
Protectant & Polish
This type of car maintenance also includes using polish and a plastic protectant. When you have the plastic inside cleaned up it’s time to apply the protectant. Never spray the product directly onto the plastic, do the same thing you did when removing stains. The polish is added in order to make the plastic look shiny by putting it on a soft cloth and then rubbing it in the plastic. After you do that, use a clean cloth to remove the excess polish. You can also use boiled linseed oil or olive oil instead of polish.
Wash & Apply Degreaser
In order to clean exterior plastic parts pre-soak your car with water for about 5 minutes. Then, put a couple of drops of mild liquid soap into a bucket with water and using a sponge or wash mitt wash your car. Make sure to wash it in sections rather than going all over the place and always start at the top of the car and slowly proceed to the bottom. Clean the car away from direct sunlight as the soap can dry if the surface of the car is too hot. Dry your vehicle with a soft dry towel or just drive it around the neighborhood block – the former is more preferable.
When you’ve dried your car spray a light coat of degreaser on a clean towel and apply the solution to the exterior plastic parts. Make sure to wipe with medium level pressure and if you get a buildup of degreaser in a certain area just scrub it off with a soft brush. Just be careful not to scrub away too much as you can scrub away the paint too. The degreaser is also able to remove buildup from other products you’ve previously applied.
If your vehicle has black plastic trim there might be a chance that it has started to look worn and dull. Using a restoring product tough, will bring back its color and clean it up. Put a few drops of the restoring product on a soft towel and then start rubbing it in the plastic with medium pressure. This type of product can also help remove stains and improve the color of the plastic too.
Apply the protectant the same way you did with the interior plastic, using a soft clean cloth to wipe down the exterior. Only this time, you’ll want to go back and forth with it. Make sure you also degrease the surface before applying the plastic protectant. The protectant will only take about a couple of minutes to dry off.
To keep everything in a good state you’ll need to regularly clean your vehicle and get rid of trash. The interior of the car is recommended to be cleaned once a month and the exterior twice a month. If you are not able to clean your vehicle this often then at least try to clean it at regular periods. If you live near the coast, if there are salted roads in your area or if there is a lot of wooded land with tree sap then you’ll need to clean your car more often. The trash needs to be removed on a daily basis. You can keep plastic bags in your car to collect the trash and then throw it at the end of the day. Make sure you always check your owner’s manual for any materials that are sensitive to cleaners.