Washing your car with your own hands is satisfying. You can take your time, be as thorough as you want, and wash it safely without damaging the paint. You can focus on the dirtier parts of your vehicle because you know best.
A local automatic car wash can’t be as thorough as you are. The big brushes can clean your car in general, but you’ll always notice some spots it missed. Even if you let someone else clean it for you, they won’t show the same amount of care and thoroughness while cleaning it as you would.
Here are eight easy steps to wash your car like a pro by yourself.
Before you start, take a good look at your car. How dirty is it? Is it merely covered in dust, or is it muddy and grimy?
If all it needs is a simple wash down with a hose, you don’t need to prepare many cleaning products.
Is it an old car or a new one? An old car may require thorough waxing and polishing to protect the paint, whereas a new car would still have its clear coating.
While you’re shopping for car cleaning products, keep in mind that the labels are important. Read what it says. Some cleaning products may be all-purpose, while others may only be made for specific cars. Using the wrong product could damage the paint or clear coat.
If a product has instructions or directions of use, follow it.
Ready Your Buckets
Take out two buckets, three if possible.
Fill up the first bucket with clean, soapy water. We want to make sure that we only use clean water to wash the car.
Fill up the second bucket with water. This bucket is used to rinse and get the dirt off the sponge or cleaning cloth.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re using a sponge, so you dunk that sponge in the first bucket (soapy water). You wipe down your car until the sponge gets dirty, then you rinse that dirt off in the second bucket (water). Once the sponge is clean again, you dunk it into the first bucket (soapy water) and continue wiping your car.
That’s why it’s best to have two buckets. But what about the third bucket? The third bucket is filled with water as well, and it’s used for rinsing off dirt from the wheels and tires. The wheels are often especially dirty, that’s why you need a separate bucket for it.
Wash Your Car
Now that your buckets are ready, you can start washing your car. Start off by rinsing your car with a hose to remove large pieces of debris or dirt. Next, you can use soapy water to wash it.
Do NOT use liquid detergents or dish cleaners. You risk stripping away your car wax and damaging the paint. Make sure you use soap that is designed for washing cars.
Clean the Surface Thoroughly
Done washing? Good. At this point, any blemishes or scratches will become apparent. If you rub your fingers on the blemishes, you’ll feel that it’s still not clean enough.
Here’s where you need a clay bar. Generally, a clay bar can remove any excess dirt and grime off the surface of your car. You can use it to remove any stubborn spots along with the wax that you previously applied to your vehicle.
Scratches are harder to remove. If the scratches are still there after using the clay bar, you might want to consider using liquid scratch removal. It may take several applications to hide the scratch. Deep scratches would require a paint touch-up.
Polish the Surface (optional)
Now that the surface is cleaned and prepared, you can choose to polish it. This step is optional. You can apply the car polish by hand or with a car polisher. A polished car will have a high-gloss appearance that gives the surface paint a mirror-like look.
Car wax adds an extra layer of protection to the paint. It protects the paint from UV rays to prevent any fading. Not only that, wax also protects your car paint from bird poop, or anything corrosive that might accidentally land on your car.
You can choose either polymer wax or carnauba wax. Polymer wax is easier to apply, so opt for that if you’re unsure.
Clean the Car Windows
Cleaning the car windows is straightforward and simple. Just wipe it with a clean cloth or microfiber cloth.
Make sure you use a window cleaner specifically made for car windows. Some window cleaners contain ammonia that might damage your car’s window tint.
Wash the Tires and Wheels
It’s time to move on to the wheels. Did you know that there are cleaning products designed for your specific type of wheel? If you are unsure about what type of wheels you have, it’s safer to get a mild wheel cleaner, or the least potent one.
When you’re cleaning the wheels, don’t apply the cleaning product on your rubber tires. The cleaning product won’t affect the tires, but it might spray onto your paint when driving.
Regular Maintenance of Shine and Protection
You’re done! Just remember that you should regularly perform shine and protection maintenance on your car. Keep a detailer spray and clean microfiber cloth in your trunk or glove compartment box.
They will come in handy when you want to quickly remove dust, small stains, or bird droppings. You do NOT want to leave bird droppings drying on your car paint.