If worries about a water spot here, a streak there, and a scratch in yet another place have you ready to throw in the towel on washing your own car, don’t. In fact, you shouldn’t even have a towel to throw in. There’s a proper way to wash and dry your car — and come away with a smooth, even and shiny finish — and it starts with using the right car care products.
Using rags and towels, random cleaning solutions, and even washing specific areas of your vehicle in the wrong order all can lead to damaging your paint job and leaving permanent swirls — those circular surface scratches that become plainly visible in direct light. By contrast, following these car washing and drying tips can extend the life of your finish, thus protecting the investment you made in your vehicle.
The following steps cover how to properly wash and dry a car:
How to Wash a Car
Gather your car wash supplies. For best results, use three buckets. One will be used exclusively for cleaning your tires. One will contain a mix of water and a high-quality, auto-specific cleaning detergent; and the other will have only clean water to be used for rinsing. A Wash Mitt or two from CleanTools will best lather your car’s exterior. The density of the material retains a generous amount of soap, resulting in fewer dips in the soap bucket. You’ll need a hose and water access for rinsing. The Absorber from CleanTools will be your primary drying tool. Depending on whether grime and gunk are built up, you might need an auto-specific degreaser or all-purpose cleaner in addition to your automotive detergent.
Step-by-step car washing technique
- Park your car in a shady spot if possible. Direct sunlight will dry soap too quickly.
- Make sure your buckets are clean and fill them with clean water, following the directions on the bottle as you fill the buckets designated for detergent.
- Wash your wheels first so that spraying them off does not splash road dirt onto newly washed paint surfaces.
- Using the hose, pre-rinse the surface of your vehicle. Avoid using too much water pressure or you may embed grime and dirt particles into the paint.
- Dip your Wash Mitt into the wash bucket.
- Starting with the car top and working your way down, wash small areas of about 3 feet by 3 feet. Again, use minimal pressure — let the detergent do its job.
- Between washing small areas, thoroughly rinse the Wash Mitt in the rinse bucket — you don’t want dirty water getting into the detergent bucket, or you will simply be washing your car with dirty water.
- When dipping the Wash Mitt back into either bucket, don’t let it swirl along the bottom. Dirt and sediment will settle there, and you don’t want to pick it back up.
- After washing two or three small areas, rinse them with the hose so soap does not get an opportunity to dry on the surface.
- For the final rinse in each area, remove the nozzle from the hose and let the water cascade down. Spraying allows the formation of droplets that will leave spots.
- Don’t forget the windows and windshield.
How to Dry a Car
- Using a sweeping motion and light pressure, use The Absorber or The Absorber XL to preliminarily dry the car surfaces, especially where there is standing water.
- A blotting method can be used if there is no standing water, or very little. The Absorber material will draw droplets and hard-water spots up, leaving a streak-free finish.
- Follow up with The Glosser, a tri-layer microfiber cloth, with waxen fabric as the middle layer so it waxes your car simultaneously.
After washing and drying your car, you can go two steps further. Using CleanTools Buffing Balls, you can polish all of the aluminum and chrome. And our Dash Gear interior cleaning cloth will pick up the smallest specks of dirt and dust inside.
Many experts suggest washing your car weekly. Bird droppings and bug remains have chemical makeups that can eat away the clear coat and leave areas susceptible to corrosion.
Be sure to use the proper techniques when washing your car. It is important to follow these techniques to ensure your car looks clean. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by washing your car the wrong way.