Posted on: Jun. 13, 2017 in Auto Maintenance

Summer is the perfect time to take your car care into your own hands. Bird droppings, dead bugs, dirt and dust can build up, threatening the life of your car’s exterior. Not only is rain not enough to keep your car clean and protect the paint from breaking down, the acidity of the rain itself can damage the car. Heading out to the carwash is certainly an option, but if you know how to do it right, washing your car by hand can be satisfying and rewarding, if you know how to do it right.


First, you need to have the right cleaner. Household cleaners are a definite no-no. Avoid things like hand soap, dishwashing liquid, and glass cleaner on the paint, as they will strip off the wax that protects it. This will leave it not only dull, but more open to getting scratched or faded. Instead, look for a cleanser that’s specially formulated for washing cars. You should have no trouble finding this in an automotive store or in the car care aisle of your local grocery or retailer.

Just like you shouldn’t use any old soap, you also shouldn’t use any old rag. Opt for a soft natural sponge or a lamb’s wool cloth or mitt. These are softer and, again, will be less likely to scratch the protective wax coating. There are a variety of sponges and cloths designed especially for cleaning your car’s exterior.

Before you get started, make sure the car is cool before you wash it. Don’t wash it if you’ve just been driving or it’s been sitting out in the sun.

You’ll want to work in sections on the car to avoid letting the soap dry on the car as you go. Begin at the top of the car and work your way down. Wet the section you’re about to work on with clean water. Next, dip your sponge or cloth into a bucket of sudsy water. Apply the soapy water to the car in a straight line across the car, not in circles. Pay special attention to areas with lots of grime. Rinse the sponge periodically with the hose or a separate bucket of clean water so you don’t spread dirt around the car. If you drop your sponge, make sure to clean it well or get another, as it could pick up small rocks or debris from the ground which will then scratch your car.

Another area you’ll want to pay special attention to are the wheels and tires. Because they are closer to the road, they are more likely to pick up more gunk from the road. You can start out with the same car cleaner you used on the body, but you may need a product designed just for wheels that can also remove road-tar and grease. Pick one that’s safe for all wheel-types, especially if you’re not sure what kind of finish is on yours. Be sure to use a different sponge or cloth than the body, as the stuff that comes off the wheels is not something you want to run all over the car. It also may not come out of the cloth so well.

To dry the car, use a natural or synthetic chamois or a soft terry towel (you’ll need more than one!). Try not to drag the towel across the paint by blotting up as much water as you can. Don’t let the car air dry, as it will cleave streaks and water marks. You wouldn’t want to ruin all that hard work, right?

Cleaning your car regularly not only treats your car like the point of pride it can be, but it also extends the life and increases the retail value.

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