There are some important reasons to keep your overland rig clean some of which are:
- Health – cooking from the vehicle
- Organisation for trips
- Value retention
- Enhanced driving experience
- Increased safety
- Improve self esteem
An overland vehicle is not like a normal car when it comes to cleaning. Depending on your set up there are far more things to pay attention to when it comes to cleaning both the interior and exterior of the vehicle.
In a daily driver we might drop a crisp or two down the side of the seat or stuff empty wrappers in the door pocket but if you have a kitchen in the back of your rig then that means hot oil, food prep, fluids, meat and a whole lot more – all of which can contribute to the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
An overland rig is a different ball game to the daily driver, here we take a look at keeping your overland rig clean.
Cooking from the vehicle
When we’re not cooking over naked flame we’re using the twin burner gas stove. Heating water etc is fine but when it comes to frying, with all the will in the world you cannot stop fat jumping out of the pan. We usually come home with spots of fat on the rear bumper and it didn’t take long to notice splashes of fat on the inside of the tailgate window which, if left for any length of time are a nightmare to remove.
Just like in any kitchen, surfaces need regular cleaning, it just happens that it’s in the back of your vehicle. The odour of old cooking is not pleasant either so it pays to keep on top of the job little and often even if it doesn’t look dirty, this includes a ‘kitchen box’ if you have one as well as drawers and other food storage solutions.
Clean is Healthy
A clean overlanding rig is a healthy one, we all return home with the 4×4 needing a good valet inside and out, a couple of days car camping in rural Andalucia and you might think your pride and joy looks like it’s been abandoned in the apocalypse with all the doors open for a month.
Keeping on top of cleaning makes you feel better about driving your rig in the first place, there is nothing quite like a spanking clean cabin to climb into and drive off in knowing that you look all polished up on the outside too with a spot of tyre dressing to finish things off.
If you live in a dusty region or overland rural, dusty country then you’ll know that it is a never ending job to keep on top of cleanliness. Dust however is more than just unsightly, it can also contribute to interior wear as it acts as an abrasive.
Visibility can also be compromised after driving dusty trails, we’ve all seen the 4×4 with the dust covered rear window where someone has written ‘clean me’ on it [or worse!]
It reflects on you
At some point you will need to give someone a lift. A clean car reflects on you as a person, it suggests that you have standards, care about attention to detail and enjoy an element of control in your life. At this point we could go down the mental health rabbit hole but let’s just say that a clean vehicle is good not just for self esteem but also other people’s perception of you.
How we clean our Shogun:
- Hit the car wash, a simple power wash and rinse at the filling station, €2
- Polish [usually every three trips out]
- Windows [+ mirrors] cleaned inside and out [especially inside tailgate window]
- Full hoover of interior including kitchen drawers
- Luggage area emptied out and plywood storage unit *polished
- Vinyl surfaces [inc mud flaps], dashboard etc fully cleaned from dust
- Tyre dressing applied to the Falken’s
- Engine bay [see this post on engine cleaning]
If we know that we’ll be out taking photos then a bit more detailing might be done, the steps above are what we carry out after a trip which keeps on top of the job.
*We use simple furniture polish on our wooden surfaces
To be honest I don’t spend a huge amount of money on cleaning products for the car. The main three we do buy regularly are interior fabric cleaner and interior vinyl cleaner, for the tyres we swear by Autoglym tyre dressing although there are of course dozens of others.
For polish we stick with Autoglym too but also use T-Cut Colour Fast which is decent enough for removing scratches.
I’ve been using Autoglym soft cloths for years since I received a car valet gift selection back in 1997 – they are very, very good when it comes to taking off polish and buffing up.
Keeping your overland 4×4 clean
Some people love to do the whole vehicle valeting thing, some hate it, either way it needs to be done and there are distinct benefits to maintaining a clean vehicle. I don’t buy into all this ‘wash your car for mpg saving’ and suchlike but simply keeping a decent standard of cleanliness inside and out is good for us and that’s the way we do it.
Keeping your overland rig clean – How often do you clean your rig and when do you do it?