To protect your vehicle and keep it looking its best, you need to wash it regularly. This prevents minor wear and tear from becoming noticeable and keeps your car looking better for longer.
This is easy to do at home, provided you use the right technique and of course, the right tools.
Here are five essential tips to help you keep your car sparkling clean.
1. To wash a car properly, you need to start with the right tools. These include a hose, two buckets, a soft sponge and/or car wash mitt, some car washing liquid and at least one large microfiber towel for drying. Sheepskin mitts, microfiber mitts and natural sea sponges are all excellent for car washing.
Don’t use hand soap, dishwashing liquid, glass cleaner or anything other than proper car wash detergent; car wash products are specifically designed to provide ample lubrication to prevent dislodged grit from scratching your car paint, and they’re gentle enough so they don’t remove existing wax.
2. Wash your car in the shade or on an overcast day – never out in the full sun. If you clean a car when it’s hot, it tends to dry too quickly and you’re more likely to end up with spots on your windows. Before washing, make sure you hose off the entire vehicle first to remove any loose dirt or debris that might otherwise scratch the car surface.
It’s especially important to clean off fruit bat or bird droppings, dead insects and tree sap, as these can be very harmful to your vehicle’s paint.
3. Always use two buckets instead of one. The biggest car washing blunder of all is the common practice of rinsing out a dirty sponge in the clean suds bucket. When you do this, you’re not removing the dirt – you’re just putting the same grit and filth right back on the car and spreading it around. So use one bucket for your clean sudsy water, and a second one (full of clean water) for thoroughly rinsing out that grimy sponge.
Once the sponge is thoroughly rinsed, dip it back in the soapy water and continue. Rinse and reload the sponge often, and hose the vehicle frequently as you work, especially on a warm day. Wash with gentle, horizontal strokes rather than a brisk, circular motion to avoid scratching the car with any stray grit.
4. Never use the same sponge for wheels and tyres that you use for the car body. Wheel wells, hubcaps and rubber tyres collect all sorts of abrasive gunk that you don’t want anywhere near your car paint. If you feel the need, invest in a dedicated wheel/tyre cleaning product. Water-based, non-corrosive wheel cleaners that are suitable for all types of wheels are the safest choice.
5. Once the car has been thoroughly rinsed with the hose, wash it by sections, moving systematically from top to bottom in the following order: roof, then window supports and windows, then the top of the bonnet and upper panels, followed by the middle of the doors and the boot, the front bumper, lower panels, lower part of the doors and finally the back bumper. Then you can tackle the wheels and tyres (though it’s also perfectly okay to wash these first, as long as you’re not using the same mitt for the rest of the car).
When you give your vehicle a final rinse, it’s best to use a hose without a nozzle, so the water flows gently down over the whole car in a sheeting action. This leaves fewer spots. Water spots are faint mineral deposits left behind when water evaporates, so drying your car thoroughly is just as important as washing it correctly. Use a large microfiber towel for scratch-free drying; you could also use a silicone ‘paint-safe’ squeegee to remove most of the initial moisture. Microfibre towels are much more absorbent than chamois or terry cloth towels, and they dry more quickly. Once the car is completely dry, rejuvenate the shine of your existing wax with any number of spray wax products designed for the purpose.
For every vehicle owner, the most important car washing advice is this: wash your car a lot more often than you do now. Once a fortnight (or even once a week) isn’t too much at all, especially if you drive in an area where your car gets dirty very quickly.
If this all sounds like too much work for you, check out Car Wash Finder, a tool proudly brought to you by Budget Direct to help you find and review your local carwash.