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Subaru Crew - Cleaning Interior & Exterior Surfaces

bonnie_rickbonnie_rick Posts: 115
those cleaning needs of your Subaru.

Bonnie Rick
Town Hall Community Manager,


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Welcome fellow Subaru enthusiasts!

    I pamper my Acadia Green '98 Forester L pretty well, but I'd be very interested to hear your tips and tricks, and perhaps share a few of my own.

    Given that these vehicles tend to last a long time, and hold their value pretty well, how do we go about keeping their appearance up to snuff?

    What kind of after-market goodies help keep them clean? Has yours held up well to snow and salt? What about abuse from kids and pets in the interior?

    Please join us to share you experiences, and feel free to pose questions.

  • noclassnoclass Posts: 24
    Since I haven't found any decent seat covers for any of my cars or trucks, I've taken to using towels. The fold nicely in half and tuck between the bottom of the seat and the seatback. When (never if)I spill coffee, it lands on the towel which is later put in the washing machine.
    Garry from SCOA
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Chris: results look great, how often have you done it? Every 6 months? Is it easier to wash afterwards? I'll bet it is, and rain probably beads up real nicely.

    I've also applied Scotchguard on the seats (when it was new). The fabric on my '98 Forester L seems to be water resistant, so you have some time to clean it up before it absorbs much of the spill (usually baby food or doggie puke).

    I've used a spoon to remove the bulk of the spill, then a towel to wipe it. If needed, I'll apply some Scotchguard fabric cleaner, let it soak in a while, then wipe it clean again.

    Despite regular abuse, the seats look great and there's no odor.

  • torektorek Posts: 92
    Juice asked:

    how often have you done it? Every 6 months? Is it easier to wash afterwards?

    I got "the stuff" shortly after I got the Forester. I had intended to get it at the same time, but the expected "8 to 10 weeks" for delivery of the Forester turned into "under 6 weeks". So, I have only been using it for about two months now (all of Feb and Mar). My impression is that a good "coat of Z", if I may call it that, should last about 6 months.

    The Forester came waxed with something (I have no idea what). I gave it the same treatment, but there was no obvious difference to my own untrained eye between the "before" and "after" on it. It does have swirl-marks -- I assume the dealer used a buffer to apply whatever it was -- so I should do a few more layers of Z5/Z2 and see if they go away.

    Since I actually wash the car so rarely, it is hard to say how much easier that is, either. I did go ahead and apply a second layer of Z6-and-Z2 on the Acura this weekend, with a "Z7 wash" first, and the whole thing took about an hour (spray Z7/water mix from spray bottle, wipe down with towel, do the spray-and-wipe thing with the Z6, apply the Z2, and do one more wipe). The Acura is a lot easier to do than the Forester, though -- less surface overall, no roof rack, and the whole roof is easily reachable without opening the doors or standing on the mini-running-boards. (If I were taller than 5'10", maybe the Forester roof would be easier to reach. :-) )

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's funny, I didn't find the Forester so hard to clean. My previous car had so much ribbed side cladding (no, not a Pontiac but close) that washing the Forester is a relief.

    Sounds like I wash more frequently, but you're more thorough each time you do it.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    I agree with Chris that the Forester does take a little longer to wash than a passenger car. For me, the roof and roof rails take a little more time.

    For those who are interested, I wash my Forester about once every two weeks and wax every other month. I always use Meguiar's products. Twice a year, I do the complete three-step process (cleaner, polish, wax). It really makes a big difference.

    For those who know juice's homepage, you can find a picture of my black 98 Forester S right after the three-step process:

  • Just found the Owner's Clubs from the Station Wagon forums and glad I did. I wash my 00 OB once a week with just water and elbow grease, once a month with mild detergent and just got done polishing and waxing (Meguiars) for the first time. I did get a couple of scratches in the clear coat I'll have to try Zaino (thanks torek) to get them out next time I wax.

    Now for my question, what have others used to clean the dashboard and window sill areas? The flat, slightly spongy surface is getting marked from my other interior cleaning. I tried just a wet rag, but that left white areas. Afraid to try anything else yet.

    Thanks to all for great info.
  • torektorek Posts: 92
    to suck the dust off the dashboard and window sills. (My vacuum has various attachments for doing upholstery and the like. I use the brushy thingy -- highly technical term there :-) -- for general car-interior vacuuming, and what I think is probably a window blind attachment to get into hard-to-reach areas under seats and the like. It is just a regular ordinary household vacuum cleaner.)

    People in general seem to recommend Lemon Pledge for vinyl interior surfaces. I do not have any so have not tried it.

  • fudd2befudd2be Posts: 50
    Cleaning the dash (vinyl) surfaces, fake wood trim surfaces, and even the dust off the delicate plastic guage cover is easy - just use a damp genuine leather chamois!!! The results are great and you can't get more gentle than a real leather chamois.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I like those suggestions (damp chamois and a vac) so I may borrow those ideas next time.

    CR reviews car polishes in the current issue, but I have not had time to read it yet (all those guests are still here).


    PS It hurt to see that the April NY car show was right near where we stayed and just about a week too late for me!
  • 2ndwnd2ndwnd Posts: 145
    I noticed while reading my owners manual that it says that window cleaner (such as Windex) is bad for your vinyl. I hadn't been aware of that, but I guess I'll try to be more careful of overspray when I clean the windshield, or maybe I'll just spray the cleaner on a paper towel and then wipe it on the window.
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Any kind of alcohol or ammonia-based cleaner will dry out vinyl and plastics since they're made from petrochemicals.

    I usually hold my towel against the plastic near the windows before spraying.
  • soobersoober Posts: 11
    This is great! I finally found all of you, from the Station Wagons bulletin board. And I'm so glad to be able to see what other neurotic car owners are doing to keep their cars obsessively clean. I've never been so obsessive about my car as I've been about my 00 OB. I probably washed it 5 times in the first 3 weeks of owning it. A question, though: I've been bringing the car to those self-serve car wash bays. I don't use the brush, just the soaping and rinsing. But I don't know what the detergent is. Any thoughts about how this is?
    Also, to Ken -- which Maguiar product do you use every 2 months to wax, in between the 3-step process?
    Thanks, all.
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    Don't worry, I think I washed my Forester as much when I first bought it too :-). I now wash at least once every two weeks.

    I use the "Deep Crystal System" series of products, including the wax. I use the wax paste (vs. liquid). You can find them at any Pep Boys or equivalent auto supplies store. I'd recommend getting a nice layer of wax on your brand new finish to keep it protected.

    I don't use those self-service car washes so I'm not sure, but I would imagine the detergent probably isn't the best stuff available. Do you use any kind of wash mitt at the car wash or do you simply spray on the soap and spray off. Some dirt/contaminants may need a little coaxing to wash off sometimes.
  • Thanks for the advise on cleaning my OB's interior. I did get Windex on part of a sill and it turned white. I've since used a wet chamois and that works good. Thanks Howard.
    In addition, my interior is beige and the lower door molding gets very scuffed up. I use just a little mechanics' hand cleaner w/ pumice and water. Takes all marks out without damaging molding. Also, those new Swiffer cloths work great for quick dusting of the interior (usually while I'm at a traffic light).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The Swiffer suggestion sounds like a time saver.

    CR rated Zaino the top wax among those they tested, but different waxes had different advatanges, so there was no one clear winner.

    For example, the Zaino wax didn't last long.

    They didn't rate the 3 step systems, though they briefly wrote about them. They didn't like how much work it involved, though results were good overall.

  • fmgarciafmgarcia Posts: 11
    . . . or ZYMOL?

    I don't think CR tested Zaino.

  • dranoeldranoel Posts: 79
    It was ZYMOL that CR tested.
  • 2ndwnd2ndwnd Posts: 145
    Although I like my vehicles to look nice, there's no way I'm going to wax my vehicle every month or two. I've used Nu Finish twice a year on my last several vehicles and it seemed to keep them looking very shiny and kept the water beading. I'm surprised more people don't use it, or is waxing just an excuse for folks who secretly like to spend a lot of time stroking their cars?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I stand corrected. Anyone else think a lot of these products sound the same?

    I agree with waxing twice a year. Though I wash regularly, so nothing stays on the paint for too long that could deteriorate the finish.

  • ramonramon Posts: 825
    I do it 4 times! one for each seasons..... =) I am a freak. On top of that I wash at least try to if it's not raining the entire week, wash my OBS once per week. Oh, I also carry a Quick Detailer from Meguiars for in between exterior cleanings. Wot a nut I am.
  • amishraamishra Posts: 367
    I usually get to my OB at least once every 1 1/2 months with a fresh coat of wax. I was amazed at how much it actually protects the paint -- I've been doing it on my '94 Mazda MX-6 for 4 years now, and the paint still looks like new, whereas I see the state of some other MX-6's on the road, and the paint on those cars have lost alot of lustre.

    I usually end up also polishing my MX-6 once a year. Note that waxing and polishing are two different things. The latter actually takes the top layer off the paint, usually the part that has oxidized over the past year. The polish will help in restoring the lustre. I won't do this on my OB until I think the lustre is starting to deterioate.

    I'm a real believer that wax prevents anything from eating into the paint, and it will also help in minimizing chips and "speckles" in the paint.

    Waxing is a relaxing thing for me, so I like to do it whenever I have time to.

    -- ash
  • soobersoober Posts: 11
    Ah ha, thanks for the info, Ash. I never knew that waxing and polishing were different, novice that I am. So with the Maguiar's 3-step that everyone seems to recommend, is one of the steps polishing? or is it all waxing?
    Also, what are these Swiffers that were recommended for the interior? an auto product, or a general cleaning product?
    Thanks, all.
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    The Meguiar's 3-step process consists of: 1)Cleaner, 2) Polish, & 3) Wax

    The process takes a good whole days of work to complete. It's something that you'll probably only want to do 1-2 times a year. While it does take a lot of time, the results are better than what you can get with a 1-step cleaner wax, especially for darker colors. I became a believer after I used it on my black Forester last year -- it really deepend the gloss and shine.

    I've heard that some two-step products like Zymol work well too. One less step could mean a lot more free time to kick back and enjoy the shiny new coat of wax.

    As for Swifters, it's a household cleaning product. You can find it in any supermarket -- it basically a gauze covered with a light coating of wax. It does a great job of trapping dust and dirt.
  • ramonramon Posts: 825
    For best result assuming u have perfect weather, you should put on like 3 coats of wax. First one is applied. Then put the car out on teh sun to let it bake for about 3hrs. then bring it into your garage and kewl it down. the next day do the second layer and repeat the above steps.I think apart of competition for showroom look (heck it should look better!), only loons or ppl with no life do it. =)
    NE ways, don't use cleaner until your car is more than 2 years old. Otherwise you will end up wiping some of your clear coat away and paint away!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hmm, I thought you had to keep the car in the shade. Doesn't the sun damage the finish when wax bakes on it?.

    Perhaps that's not the case for Carnauba-based waxes.

  • luck11luck11 Posts: 425
    I began using Zaino just about a month ago. Was a Mothers and then a Mequires Gold Class user for about 7 years before Z. I must say, I love the Zaino. Initial steps take a while, but application afterwards is much easier than Mequires or Mothers IMHO, and Z leaves no white residue in cracks and crevices!! So far, it outperforms Mequires and Mothers products for shine and durability. I have washed my OB about 4 times since application it still shines like initial application, beads like crazy and still looks "wet". In my experience using Mequires and Mothers, after 2 or three washings, the shine and is diminished and beading is not nearly as good. Furthermore, the paint doesn't look wet. Again, this is my experience in the conditions to which my vehicle is exposed(ie. frequency of washings, sun, salt & sand in winter, rain etc),

    California Car Duster. Picked one up last about awesome!!! And to think that I wasted so much time washing my vehicles in the past because of dust build up! Now I dust my car in about 60 seconds!! I does not scratch (if used properly).

    Stains: Here in Canada, we have a product called Folex. It is a biodegradble product which removes stains. For you Canadians, its available at Canadian Tire Stores. I have used it to remove salt, pen, grease, dirt and food stains from the interior of my vehicle (Geez...sounds like we live like pigs or car is spotless.....I blame any and all stains on my child...he he!). You spray, rub it in with your fingers then dab with a dry absorbant cloth and voila!! It has removed every stain that I have encountered so far. I use it every spring to remove the dirt and salt stains from the carpets in my OB.
  • amishraamishra Posts: 367
    Luck11: where did you find the California Car Duster? That sounds like a gem of a tool...

    thanks, ash
  • amishraamishra Posts: 367
    Is Zaino still only available through mail order?
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    You should be able to find the Cali Car Duster in any auto supplies shop. It's this red mop-like thing on a short handle. It works great -- I use it everyday to dust of my Forester. Just remember to follow the directions and let the paraffin dry out before it's first use.

    The same company also makes another great product called the California Water Blade. It's a big squeege made from soft silicone. It cuts down on drying time and towel usage.
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