Car Washing Tips & Tricks

Washing your car regularly is the best way to keep it looking new. For those of you willing to roll up your sleeves, here are some DIY tips.

Prepare. Before starting, make sure you check the weather. A bright and sunny day may seem like an opportune time to wash your car, but the sun will dry up the water quickly and leave spots. Park in the shade and wait until early evening or a cloudy day for better results. Also, have all supplies ready before starting. Upbeat car-washing music is optional (but recommended for more enjoyment).

Products. Use products specifically made for washing cars and designed for automotive finishes. Other products, like household cleaners or soap, could strip the wax and dull the paint finish. Use a soft natural sponge or lambs-wool mitt to clean the paint. Areas near the tires and undercarriage may need stronger cleaners and should be applied with a nonabrasive cloth. Wheels should be cleaned with a separate sponge and a wheel cleaner. There are also cleaning products for headlights and windows. Have multiple sponges, cloths, buckets, and towels nearby.

Technique. Rinse outside vehicle surfaces and get rid of loose dirt or debris with water before washing. Have three buckets ready – one with the cleaner and water, one to dip your sponge after each use to remove any debris it picked up from the car, and the third for the wheel cleaning product. Starting at the top of the vehicle, wash moving the sponge along lengthwise (washing in circles may leave swirl marks). Wash a small area at a time. Wash and rinse each area before moving on to the next one. If your sponge or cloth falls on the ground or picks up dirt or debris, it may scratch your paint if you continue to use it.

Dry. Since you don’t want to undo all your washing work, how you dry your car is important. Driving around the block is not recommended. Use a chamois or microfiber drying towel and blot up the water instead of dragging along your car. A soft squeegee can also help remove water without scratching the paint. Have extra towels on hand in case any drop on the ground.

Now, stand back and enjoy the view! A little elbow grease and these car washing tips are a recipe for a good-looking car you can be proud of.