Although it can be tempting to use an automated or roadside car wash, we strongly recommend that you avoid them. They are often run on a tight budget and use less superior car shampoo, which can be too acidic and cause damage.
Another major drawback is the fact that the equipment used (brushes/cloths/mitts) have been used on hundreds of cars prior to yours. Therefore, you run the risk of inflicting scratches and swirl marks upon your paintwork if the equipment isn’t cleaned after every use (which it won’t).
If you were to wash your car at home, you have complete control on the products that are used and how your car is washed. Although you will need to invest into a few products, it will pay for itself in the long run.
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What You Will Need
- Access to a water supply/outdoor tap.
- The ability to run a garden hose from the tap to the car.
- Two buckets and two wash mitts.
- Car shampoo and hot water.
- Dedicated car drying towel.
If you also own a suitable pressure washer, you can also take your car washing to the next level with a snow foam lance. This allows you to spray the car prior to washing it in order to remove or loosen dirt upon the paintwork.
How To Wash Your Car At Home
1. Setup The Car & Your Equipment
If possible, parking your car in a shaded area is highly recommended as it avoids the shampoo from drying too fast. However, it isn’t essential to wash your car, it just means you will have to either be quick or keep the car wet before the drying stage. Something that is essential is for all of the windows to be shut and any exposed areas are covered.
Once the car is parked in a suitable place, you can begin to get all the equipment ready. You will want to ensure the hose (and pressure washer if you are using one) is able to reach all areas of your car. You can also fill one of the buckets with hot water as well as your chosen car shampoo and the other with plain hot water for cleaning the mitts.
2. Rinse The Car To Remove Loose Debris
You should never use your wash mitt upon a dry surface and it’s always recommended to rinse the car beforehand. If you have access to a pressure washer and lance, using the snow foam is the best way to prepare the car for washing. However, if not, you can simply spray the car thoroughly with water.
3. Wash The Wheels First
The wheels will always be the dirtiest part of your car to wash and it’s advised that you wash them first before the panels of the car. Using a soapy car wash solution, thoroughly clean each of the wheels and tyres. Depending upon the wheel design, you may wish to invest in a wheel brush as it will make it far easier to clean between the spokes.
For stubborn dirt that refuses to clear, you may need to use a pH neutral wheel cleaner. However, ensure that the solution you choose is safe to use on your specific wheels as some may cause more harm than good.
Once you have finished washing the wheels, it’s important that you clean the wash mitt and bucket and then create a new bucket of soapy car shampoo.
4. Wash The Roof
When it comes to washing the actual car, you will want to start with the roof. The reason for this is the fact that the water and soapy solution will drip down the car and onto the other panels. Therefore, if you have cleaned the other panels beforehand, they will need to be cleaned again after the roof.
5. Wash The Rest Of The Car
Once the roof has been cleaned, you can then begin to wash the rest of the car. We recommend that you stick to the two bucket method of washing your car. This involves placing your wash mitt into the soapy wash bucket, wiping the dirty car panels and then cleaning the wash mitt into the plain water. This helps prevent any dirt sticking to the wash mitt and transferring onto other panels and causing damage.
Whilst washing your car with a mitt, you want to start from the top down because most of the dirt will be lower down. This prevents the dirt traveling up as you are cleaning the panel.
6. Drying The Car
Just as important as washing the car is the way you dry the car to finish up. You will want to ensure the drying towel you use is completely safe and designed specifically for cars. Often these towels will come in the form of a waffle weave or plush towel that offer great water absorption.
Washing your car at home really is that easy and in the long run, you will not only save money but also preserve the finish of your paintwork. If you notice any imperfections in the paint after washing your car, you can attempt to correct the defect using a car polish.