Your local car wash always misses spots and overall does a mediocre job. So you’ve decided to wash your car yourself. However, you’ve never washed your own car before and want to make sure you do a good, thorough job. (And you also don’t want to accidentally damage your car’s exterior while washing it.) Here are five tips for washing your car yourself.
Use the three-bucket system.
The three-bucket system will help you perform the job more efficiently as well as prevent you from putting grime back on your car from reusing dirty water. Under the three-bucket system, each bucket has a specific purpose. You fill one bucket with just water and another with clean, soapy water.
The soapy-water bucket is designated for cleaning the body of your car. And the water-only bucket is used for rinsing your cleaning mitt before you dunk it back into the soapy water bucket. The third bucket—containing a mix of water and cleaning product—is used solely for the wheels.
You should make sure that the soap you use is designed to wash cars. And definitely don’t use detergent and dish cleaners to wash your car, as they can strip away the wax and potentially damage the paint.
Evaluate the condition of your car.
You should thoroughly inspect your car to determine how dirty it is before you start washing it. This practical step will save you a lot of time and energy before you start hauling out buckets, hoses, cleaning supplies, and towels.
Is mud caked on the tires, or is the car covered in fine dust? Will you need to get rid of salt from driving on icy roads? From the evaluation, you’ll know the exact tools needed for the job and won’t have superfluous items in the way. This will enable you to perform the job faster and more efficiently.
Read the labels
Be sure to read the labels of all the products you’re planning to use before you start. This will save you a lot of time, money, and unnecessary headaches. Not all automotive cleaning products are all-purpose, and you can seriously damage the paint, clear coat, or other finishes—inside and out—by using the wrong one. If you’re unsure of what your car components consist of, you should always default to the mildest cleaning product you can find.
Clean the wheels first
You should always clean your wheels first, because wheel wells, hubcaps, and tires collect all kinds of grime and gunk that you don’t want near your car’s paint. Be sure to use the wheel bucket (mix of water and cleaning product), which was explained in the three-bucket system section. Cleaning the wheels is usually the most demanding part of car washing; it requires a considerable amount of effort and elbow grease to properly scrub all the gunk away.
Additionally, while washing the wheels, make sure that you don’t get cleaning products on your tires because the tires could spray it onto your paint when you’re driving. And hose your wheels off when you’re done to rinse off any cleaner.
Hose your car down
You should thoroughly hose down your entire vehicle before you start washing it. This will remove all the loose dirt and debris from the surface. And it’s especially important that you get rid of all bird droppings, dead insects, and tree sap because these can cause significant damage to your car’s paint while you’re scrubbing.
And some of the items you should have on hand for the job include a soft sponge/and or cleaning mitt; a hose with a variable nozzle; a wheel brush; some car-washing cleaning liquid; several microfiber towels for drying; and a vacuum cleaner for the interior.
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