Car Cleaning

How To Wash a Car the Right Way

Washing your car is pretty straightforward, but here are a few tips to get the job done right.

You’re probably wondering why we’ve made a how-to video about washing your car. Who could possibly need it right? Well there are actually a fair few common car washing mistakes that people make, and the most common one of all is using dishwashing liquid. Sure, it might leave your car looking clean and smelling lemon-fresh - but over time, using the wrong sort of detergent can actually harm your car’s paint. So, if you’ve ever washed your car using dishwashing liquid, or you’d just like to pick up a few helpful tricks, then this guide is for you.

This is the first part in a 3 part series, click the links below to learn more about the other parts.

Learn More: How to bring back that showroom shine - Click Here.

Learn More: How to maintain a glossy showroom shine - Click Here.

Tips and warnings

  • You should generally work from top to bottom on your car, avoiding washing the lower parts twice.
  • Only use a moderate amount of force to scrub the panels, as using too much pressure may scratch your paintwork.
  • Avoid dropping your sponge to the bottom of the bucket, there will be dirt and other contaminants there.
  • Refill your bucket with clean water and new car wash whenever necessary – dirty water doesn’t clean well and excess contaminants may damage the paint.
  • Re-wet the car’s surface regularly while you are cleaning the car to prevent any water stains as it dries.

Before you start

Before You Start washing your car

Try to park your car in the shade when you wash it, or if that’s not possible, then at least ensure that it’s cool to the touch to ensure the dirt doesn't stick when it drys.

Step 1 - Loosen the dirt

Step 1 - Loosen the dirt

Pour the recommended amount of car wash into one of your buckets, and then fill both of them with water.

Working from the top down, you’ll need to hose or pressure wash your entire car off to thoroughly wet the surface, removing any loose dirt , grime and bird droppings. Make sure you include the wheel arches.

If you have the luxury of a pressure washer, consider a snow foam cannon for this step. Snow foam helps lift the dirt from the paint and blasts away to minimise the risk of scratching during the washing step.

Step 2 - Washing

Step 2 - Washing

Again, starting from the top and working your way down, dunk your sponge or wash mitt into your car wash and softly glide across the roof of your vehicle to collect the loose dirt and grime. Wash one panel at a time, rinsing each one off as you go.

Step 2 - Washing

Try not to scrub too hard as contaminants and grit can get caught in your cleaning product and might scratch your paint. As you wash each section, rinse your mitt or sponge off in the second bucket to ensure your soapy water stays free of any contaminants.

Step 3 - Rinse

Step 3 - Rinse

Make sure you keep your car wet as you wash it, and once you’ve cleaned the whole thing, give it a final rinse with a steady stream of water. This allows the water to sheet off the panels, making the drying process easier and quicker.

When you reach the wheels and sills, use a second sponge to make sure the sponge you use for the body work stays as clean as possible.

Step 4 - Drying

Step 4 - Drying

Finally, using your chamois or sizeable microfibre drying towel, wipe down the all the panels from top to bottom to prevent water spots from forming as it all dries.

Make sure to remove the product label before use to ensure it doesn't scratch your paint when in use. Wipe in and around your door jambs while you’re at it and finish up with the wheels.

Bask in the glory

Bask in the Glory

And there you have it - you’ve cleaned your car. And even though you’ve done a stellar job of it and have earned yourself a break, you aren’t quite finished yet.

Next, we’re going to look at cleaning your windows inside and out followed by cleaning your wheels.

How about the Glass?

How do you clean a dirty windscreen?

A clean windscreen and windows is not only important to the overall look of your car, but is also essential for your safety. So make sure you keep yours crystal clear – and most importantly safe.

Tips and warnings

  • Avoid parking your car in the sun while cleaning your windscreens and windows, the cleaner can evaporate leaving an unpleasant residue or smudges.
  • If the window dries too quickly when applying the products and you haven’t achieved your desired finish, dampen the cloth a little and repeat the process.

Before you start

When you clean your car, the glass should be the last thing you do, so make sure you do all your washing, waxing and polishing beforehand.

To prepare for cleaning your windscreen and windows, park your car out of direct sunlight so that the glass is cool to touch. This ensures that the cleaning product won’t dry up too quickly and leave unwanted smudges.

Step 1 - Spray the cloth with glass cleaner

Step 1 - Spray The Cloth

First, refer to the glass cleaner instructions to ensure best results. But as a guide, spray your glass cleaner directly onto the cloth evenly, not to much as it needs to dry quickly.

Step 2 - Wipe the outside glass

Step 2 - Wipe The Outside Glass

Using your microfibre cloth, wipe left to right motion to clean your glass. Avoid going up and down as this will come clear soon. Keep turning the cloth to a dry portion to polish the glass to aviod steaking. If you need to, use a new dry cloth to clean off the remaining moisture.

Step 3 - Repeat on the inside

Step 3 - Repeat on the inside glass

Now that the outside is clear, it is easier to see the marks on the inside of the glass. Repeat the process for the inside of the car however use up and down motions to identify which of the remaining steaks are on the inside or outside to ensure a spotless finish. and repeat.

Optional additions for stubborn glass

  • Glass scrub will remove built up road grime, bugs and other nastiness from the glass. As a general rule, follow the instructions on your product label to apply – some products will contain chemicals which help dissolve the bug residue after a short soak and wipe, while others require a bit more elbow grease.
  • Glass treatment forms a layer on the glass which helps the water glide off and provides better, safer vision in wet conditions, particularly at night. Apply Rain-X to one half of your windscreen at a time in a circular motion using a soft microfibre cloth. Then, buff with a dry cloth from bottom to top until glass is clear from residue.
  • If you’ve ever had a windscreen fog up on you, you’ll know just how wonderful an Anti-fog can be. It forms a layer on the inside of the glass that will stop it fogging. To apply, put a small amount of the anti-fog on a cloth and use it to wipe the glass surface. Once dry, buff off any remaining residue with a dry cloth. Repeat this process on all interior glass surfaces, including the rearview mirror, side and rear windows.
How about those rims?

How do you clean dirty rims?

Your wheels and tyres are the only part of your car which touch the road surface, and are also connected to the brakes, so it should be no surprise they can get very dirty. Regular wheel and tyre cleaning makes your car look great and also makes it easier ongoing to remove contaminants.

Tips and warnings

  • Choose a wheel cleaner that is appropriate for the type of wheels and finish you have. Or alternatively, choose one which suits all types – acid free is best!
  • For ease of cleaning in the future and to prevent brake dust build up, you can use wheel protectant.
  • Never spray wheel cleaner on a hot surface, otherwise it may stain the wheel.
  • You may prefer to clean your wheels before washing the rest of your car, so that any splashes during wheel washing do not waste your hard work.
  • Better yet, if you want a perfect finish, take the wheel off the vehilce to gain access to the inside of the wheel.

Step 1 - Shake the product and apply

Step 1 - Shake The Product And Apply

Shake the wheel cleaner well, then spray it onto the wheel and tyre. A soft bristle may be required for stubborn dirt and grime. Allow it so soak for the time recommended on the label – usually about 30 seconds.

Work on one wheel at a time as to never let the product dry on the wheel (unless it specifically says so in the instructions).

Step 2 - Let it soak

Step 2 - Soaking Wheel Cleaner

Let the product sit for a minute or as listed on the bottle to soak into the caked on dirt and grime.

Step 3 - Rinse and dry wheel

Step 3 - Rinse and Dry the Wheel

Rinse the wheel off thoroughly and dry it with a soft rag to prevent water spotting. If the wheel is really dirty, you might need to spray, scrub and rinse it again.

Once you’ve washed, rinsed and dried one wheel you can move onto the next.

Step 4 - Don’t forget the tyre shine!

Step 4 - Tyre Shine

Finish the job off by applying an even layer of tyre shine across the face of the tyre. Refer to the dry time on the can/bottle before driving to ensure it doesn't flick up onto your paintwork.