Clean is a matter of routine

Tips for keeping your cab looking nice

Summer is here and there’s no more hiding it. That dirt you’ve accumulated over the winter months has got to go.

Whether it’s inside the cab or out, it may seem like a lack of time or know-how is keeping you from clean surroundings when you’re on the road, but Andrew Sanders — owner of Dr. Detail in Toronto — says for most folks the issue is a lack of routine.

“It’s all about decluttering all the time, and just staying on top of that,” says Sanders. “Your interior is as important as your exterior.”

Drivers or fleets that bring their trucks to a professional don’t tend to ask for a complete detail unless they’re getting ready to sell. Instead, they’re looking for a good “spring cleaning” to bring it up to a benchmark level that makes it easy to maintain.

A good cleaning is often mistaken for a detail, says Sanders, but the difference is, well, in the details. Comprehensive detailing, for example, will involve pulling the seats out of the cab and cleaning them separately, instead of just cleaning underneath.

Sanders says the two main keys to keeping things sparkling are consistency and simplicity. Cleaning should take five to eight minutes every day, or 15 minutes once or twice a week once it’s reached that benchmark level, he suggests.

Professional support for that will cost $400 or more, and could take up to half a day or longer, depending on the size of the job.

If you’re deciding to do it yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind:

The simple solution

Effective cleaning solutions can be pretty basic. Warm water and some white vinegar can be combined to clean just about any surface, including dashboards and center consoles. Mix the solution in an old spray bottle or a pail, and use an old T-shirt or other dust-free rag to wipe down hard surfaces in a cab’s interior. The vinegar-based solution will not only effectively clean surfaces, but remove any cigarette smells lingering in the cab.

Floor mats

Floor mats can be removed and hosed off, and wiped down or left in the shade to dry. Keep in mind that leaving mats in the sun may shorten drying time, but will also shorten the life of the mats — causing them to dry out and crack.

Spray cleaners

Windex or other glass cleaners are a huge go-to for Sanders. Carrying a bottle and some paper towels on the road makes it easy to clean windows and mirrors when they begin to get grimy. For more heavy-duty messes, Spray Nine is his cleaner of choice. Simple sprays are all that’s needed for everything from fingerprints on the dash to something harder to lift.

Problem areas

Typical problem areas around trucks include fridges, microwaves, and pets, says Sanders, who has seen his fair share of moldy food and sauce spill-overs that have been nuked one too many times. Road warriors should remember to add a quick wipe down of fridge shelves and the inside of microwaves to their regular routines.

Beyond the pet hair that’s left on every surface, trucks have rolled in to be cleaned with animal feces on the cab floor. Not every pet is an issue, however. Sanders says some of the cleanest trucks he’s seen have contained multiple furry friends. The difference comes down to owners who keep things well maintained and organized.

The regular vacuum

Add a quick vacuum once a week to remove hair build-up and make sure little boxes are emptied and pets aren’t an issue.

Polishing the jewelry

Cleaning the outside of the truck is also a matter of routine, including those with the features that he refers to as “jewelry”. All that chrome needs to be maintained on a regular basis, requiring a polish once it starts to show signs of wear. If it’s not kept up, often a cleaning becomes a costly restoration. Here, too, a simple polish and a rag is all that’s needed to put the sparkle back in your bling.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.