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Detail Your Car for Less -- Savings Experiment

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Get Your Car Detailed for Less
It's been a long winter and most of us are ready to have our cars cleaned and refreshed from top to bottom. Professional auto detailing isn't cheap, but that doesn't mean you have to spend big bucks to get the job done. Here are a few simple, low-cost tips you can use to get your car shining again.

Before you start cleaning, try eliminating any unpleasant odors by using this one unexpected item: BBQ charcoal! It sounds strange, but charcoal absorbs odors very well. Just leave some briquettes in your car for a few days until the smell is gone. Bonus: you can still use them to cook up some burgers when you're done.

Next, focus on washing your car in the right order. This can save you a lot of time and trouble. When you clean the interior first, you won't have to worry about debris ruining your spotless finish. Start from the top and work your way down. The dirt and dust you stir up will end up on the bottom anyway, so it's best to do the carpets and floor mats last. Once you're ready for the exterior, wash the wheels first so if you splash water onto the body, it won't be a big deal. Then wash the painted areas and, finally, the glass.

While you're out there, always remember to avoid using dishwasher detergent on the body of your car. Despite how cheap and harmless it might seem, using dishwasher detergent can actually strip the protective coating from your finish and leave it vulnerable to nicks and scratches. Instead, use a dedicated car-wash product, which is less caustic and specifically designed for use on automotive paint.

Lastly, avoid washing your car with any circular motions. These cause small, light swirl marks in your finish. For a more blemish-free clean, move your sponge lengthwise across the hood and other panels. Or better yet, try using a pair of stockings instead of a sponge. While you might get some strange looks, the softer material won't leave any marks.

These are a just a few ways you can keep your car looking great, without the hefty price tag. Give these tips a try, and see the savings for yourself.

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