How To Wash Your Car Like a Pro

April 15, 2019


You love your car and would do anything to keep it in good condition, right? When it gets dirty, you’ll probably spend a good amount of money taking it to a professional car wash. However, you can actually wash your car yourself with the same results as you’d get from one of those places. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Get Your Car Out of Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight can make the surface of your car hot, and this can lead to premature drying of soap and water. Park the car in the shade and wait until the engine’s cooled down before starting.

You should also make sure that all of your windows are closed and that your antenna’s retracted. This way, water won’t find its way inside of your vehicle.

2. Assess the Situation

Before you start, you should take a look at your car and see just how much dirt there is. If you only have a layer of dust on your vehicle, then you won’t need the same amount of cleaning supplies that you would if the whole thing was caked in hard mud.

3. Get Your Cleaning Supplies Ready

The next step is to get your cleaning supplies. Don’t use any household cleaners on your vehicle since they can strip the wax coat off of your car, which can lead to paint damage later on. Instead, use specialized car wash detergent or other automotive cleaning products. Make sure to read the labels to figure out what’s best for your situation. You should also get some bug remover for trouble spots.

To start, get three buckets(one for washing the body, one for washing the wheels and tires, and one for rinsing the sponge). You’ll also need washing mitts, a hose and a scrubbing brush. Fill two of the buckets with the right ration of detergent to water. Next, fill the remaining bucket with just water. 

You should also have several microfiber towels ready to dry the car. To detail the body afterwards, you’ll need a clay bar, a cloth, touch-up paint, spray detailer, a bottle of water-repellent window treatment and polymer car wax.

4. Rinse the Car Down

You’ll want to use a jet of water, but make sure that the jet isn’t too strong as that will damage the paint. Aim the water downwards and target larger pieces of dirt that can simply fall off the car. 

5. Lather Down the Car

Now, take your wash mitt and soak it in one of the buckets of soapy water. Next, start applying the soapy suds to your car. Rinse the mitt in the clear water bucket if it gets too dirty and continue lathering the car.

Don’t use the sponge or scrubbing brushes for this job since, like before, you don’t want to damage the paint unnecessarily. 

6. Wash From the Top Down

Take your mitt and start cleaning your car. If you start from the roof and go down, then the soap can gather on dirtier areas closer to the wheels before you get to them.

If your car is extremely dirty, let the soap and water pick that grime up before you scrub it off. Make sure to walk several circles around your car so you won’t miss anything.

If you see bird droppings or dead bugs, then try to get them off with the mitt. If that alone can’t do it, then spray some of the bug remover on them and wait just a few seconds for it to do its job.

As you wash your car, be sure to use the hose and keep the vehicle wet at all times. Otherwise, the soap will dry onto your vehicle and stain your paint. For the same reason, you should rinse each section off with the hose as soon as you’re sure that it’s clean.

7. Wash the Bottom

When you reach the bottom of your car, which is usually the dirtiest part, you should get a second car mitt since the first one will likely be too dirty to use.

Once you reach the wheels, this is where the scrubbing brush comes in handy. Use it to clean the dirt off of the tire sidewalls and off of the wheel openings. Just like the mitt, you should rinse the brush off as necessary.

Finally, you should spray the hose on the bottom of your car. This will get salt deposits off of your car that would otherwise lead to severe metal corrosion.

8. Dry the Car

Never air dry your car since this will lead to watermarks caused by minerals in hard water. Instead, take some microfiber towels and start by blotting up the water when you can. This is another way to prevent watermarks.

Once you’ve gotten any standing water blotted up, you can gently wipe down the rest of the vehicle until it’s as dry as a bone.

With that, you’re all finished, right? Actually, to clean your car like a pro, there are a few more steps.

9. Remove Harder Spots With Clay

Run your hands over the car’s surface. If you feel a tough blemish, then take your clay bar and use it to remove the blemish. If it turns out to be a larger scratch, you may need a special compound to tackle it. 

10. Treat Any Rust or Paint Damage

Rust damage can be easily dealt with by using a rust converter on trouble spots. Just remember to give the converter the time it needs to cure on the car’s surface.

If the damage is larger than what converter alone can manage, then use some touch-up paint to make those spots look like they’ve never been there.

If the rust is in a large spot that needs to be removed, then you will need to have the section sanded, ground and repainted.

11. Polish The Car

All you’ll need to do here is apply some polish to the surface and buff it in with a dry cloth. This will take a little effort, but you’ll be glad when you see that your car has that high-mirror shine that only professional work can achieve.

If you wish, you could also use a dual-action polisher to buff up your vehicle rather than doing it by hand.

12. Wax the Car

You don’t have to wax your car every time you wax it, but you will want to wax your car at least every 3 months, depending on the elements your car is in.

Polymer wax will protect your car’s exterior from sun damage, and it also lasts longer than traditional wax products. So make sure to apply a thin layer of it onto your car using a cloth.

You may need to do this several times if you didn’t see any beads of water when you washed the car. Make sure to get every part of the surface covered.

If you’ve just used the touch-up paint, then make sure not to wax anywhere where it’s been used. 

13. Keep That Shine Going

To do this, start by taking a clean cloth and applying some spray detailer to it. Just wipe it onto the surface lightly.

You can also do this on the road to get rid of dust or bird droppings.

14. Clean and Treat Your Windows

Finally, you should take some automotive glass cleaner and a cloth to your car’s windows and windshield. Don’t use household glass cleaner since the ammonia in it can harm the car’s window tinting.

Once the glass is dry, spray on some water-repellent window treatment to keep rain off.

You should do this every month on your windshield or every three months on your other windows.

It’ll take a little time and effort, but you’ll save money in the long run and be able to take pride in having a beautiful car.

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About The Author



I've been detailing cars for years. I love cars but more importantly, I love clean cars. I created this blog to share all of my knowledge around keeping cars as clean as possible.