Shuts, jams, slams or sills, whatever you call them here’s how I deep clean and maintain them, from seal to strut.
I could have gone for an unkept car with ramshackle shuts but chose to use my own as subject matter instead as despite being pretty clean to begin with, unlike a lot of others they’re just nice and substantial to look at and while I may not have soiled my shuts recently I’d certainly made a right old mess of my other body panels – so you should at least give me some credit for that!
Although shuts should generally be tended to first I was reluctant to touch these right off the bat for fear of risking cross-contamination with the cack, so opted to meet somewhere in the middle and pressure wash the majority of that off first.
After the exterior filth had been washed away it was time to give the shuts a quick pre-rinse at reduced pressure to remove any loose debris prior to contact cleaning, similar to how you’d pre-rinse the body before washing.
If you don’t have a snazzy adjustable washer like me you can still hit them at full pressure, you just need to keep the jet of water away from the interior as best you can. A certain amount of overspray is to be expected so it pays to have an absorpant towel to hand to mop any up and incidentally, this is one of the reasons you should sort the shuts first.
Once sufficiently soaked down, it was time to get busy with some all purpose cleaner and a few soft bristled detailing brushes. The product was liberally sprayed over the surface, before being worked into the various nooks and crannies to release any ingrained dirt. Obviously every shut will be slightly different but the key for me, especially when working on a car I haven’t before, is to be as thorough and methodical as possible as I won’t likely be going into this much depth again and so don’t want to miss any spots.
Which is why I gently removed the main rubber strip above the chunky plastic sill to give the narrow channel underneath a good clean and I’m glad I did, as there was a fair amount of concealed gunk residing at the bottom of it.
When you feel you’ve done enough degreasing you can go on to wash the shuts down with a soft mitt and regular bodywork shampoo and while this stage isn’t imperative, I like to do it as it not only helps flush out any remaining dirt but also gives all areas a chance to soak in some shampoo prior to being rinsed off and dried.
This can also be a great maintenance cleaning technique which can help keep shuts looking smart following an exterior contact wash. I would however, recommend wringing the mitt out slightly for maintenance washing instead of using a fully loaded one as I was here to prevent unnecessarily making a mess.
Once the shut had seen ample sudsing it was given one final rinse to remove the various product residues and any remaining loose dirt and again prior to closing up, the surrounding interior panels were given a quick wipe over with a towel to remove any overspray.
The same process was then repeated for the other side of the car before the rear hatch was attended to. It’s not usually possible to pressure wash boot shuts for obvious reasons but you can still wet them down with either the open end of a hose at reduced flow or your lance-less pressure washer gun with the unit switched off. I’ve got a fitted boot liner covering the carpet below and so wasn’t particularly worried about a bit of overspill but you should still be careful not to unnecessarily flood the rear end.
All areas were then tackled in pretty much the same fashion as the doorshuts; that is, degreased, agitated, washed over and rinsed. The shuts around this relatively small glass hatch were pretty straight forward to deal with but I know from experience that the boot area can often be the worst, so if this is the case for the shuts your working on it’s advisable to remove any loose debris by hand first or even carefully vacuum it out from any tight spots with a crevice tool prior to cleaning so that you’re not just rubbing loose dirt around.
Like the sill seal, the rear hatch seal was also pulled up so that I could work the cleaner into any tight spots before it was independently rinsed off and you should do the same if possible to ensure that any hidden compacted dirt doesn’t recontaminate your freshly cleaned shuts every time the car is rinsed.
I intentionally disregarded the engine bay and bonnet shuts here as I was saving them for a dedicated engine cleaning video, however I did ensure I gave the petrol cap and flap a decent degrease and rinse out to remove any stale 98 RON residue. It’s an easy one to overlook but it’s a shut nonetheless and so should be shown a similar level of care as the others.
Deep cleaning complete I then gave the exterior of the car a wash and dry (mostly off camera), to thoroughly remove the remaining dirt and bring it up to par before I could move onto properly finishing off the shuts.
The first stage of that finishing was drying. While big plush towels are great for safely soaking up water I generally reserve them for the body and so prefer to go with a few smaller, more generic towels for the shuts which also helps keep them away from the ground.
The aim here was to simply remove the water from all the nooks and crannies to allow for some further enhancement but thoroughly drying the shuts also prevents unsightly drips and streaks from seeping out onto the freshly dried exterior bodywork.
Once the shuts were thoroughly dry and drip free I decided to give the main areas a basic polish with a simple all in one which would also add a little synthetic protection. Almost anything you do to the body can technically be done to the shuts too, including machine polishing, however I find that a general once over by hand for most cars is usually more than enough.
After being spread over the surface and sufficiently worked in, the residue was buffed off with a plush microfibre towel to leave a noticeably brighter and slick feeling finish. Obviously older or more neglected shuts would benefit from this far more but these well kept ‘SIPS’ shuts were still thankful for a quick hand job.
All shuts will have rubber seals and plastic trim of some sort surrounding them so following any deep cleaning and enhancement I like to dress these areas to bring everything up to a similar standard. Any durable dressing designed for use on exterior parts will do and while you can use something water-based if you don’t like shiny silicone-based products, just be aware that they won’t last very long on these areas.
The dressing was liberally applied with a fresh applicator sponge and left to soak in for a moment before the excess was buffed off with a dry microfibre towel to leave a nice dark, replenished-looking finish that would help to repel water and make the seals slightly more weatherproof.
I wasn’t too concerned about a perfectly neat application here as I’d be wiping down all of the previously cleaned and polished areas again, and this was why the sill rubber was dressed after being replaced instead of being coated before.
Prior to replacing the passenger side strip however, a small chip in the paint which had been niggling me since I got the car was filled in with some matching paint and and a touch up stick to make it slightly less noticeable.
The boot and bonnet struts are easily missed but they can quickly fade and tarnish so it’s worth trying to remember to dress these as well. While working around the rear hatch I also brushed a bit of the protectant into the rubber cable carriers to stop them looking so sorry for themselves and to keep them supple as this is technically a working vehicle who’s boot gets opened and closed quite a lot.
Once plastic and rubber surrounding parts have been properly dressed I’ll generally just top them up every now and again with whatever dressing I’m using on the interior, it’s not necessary to coat them like this every time, just whenever you feel they’d benefit from it.
Dressing compete it was then simply a case of spritzing over the shuts with a light detail spray and wiping them down one last time with a clean, damp microfibre towel to remove any smears, smudges or spots that could potentially taint the after shots.
And with the rain on the way ‘as per’, I left it at that. Yes, the shuts were pretty clean to begin with but the process essentially remains the same whether you’re giving lightly soiled or deeply ingrained one’s a good going over.
You obviously don’t need to clean them to this extent every time but it’s definitely beneficial to do it at least once before keeping on top of them with regular maintenance cleaning, which incidentally, should be a breeze.
Assuming they’re not left to get too dirty following their initial thorough clean, I recommend simply spritzing them down with a detail spray while still wet and drying them off with a soft towel once the rest of the exterior has been sorted. If, for whatever reason they do become quite heavily soiled you can repeat the pre-rinse stage and then lightly wash them down with a soft mitt and bodywork shampoo before re-rinsing and drying.
Periodically you can then either re-polish as necessary or top up with a spray wax or quick detailer to keep them protected and looking crisp. As I’ve already said, anything you do to the body of the car you can also technically do to the shuts, it’s really just up to you where you draw the line.
While I appreciate it isn’t the most exciting part of a vehicle to deal with or watch being dealt with, nice clean shuts help distinguish a seemingly clean car from a genuinely clean one and I hope you’ll agree that despite not being too bad to begin with, these SIPS shuts were definitely worthy of a video!