The Best Ways To Wash Your Car Properly (‘How To’ Guide and Tips)

Learning how to wash a car is a fundamental step when it comes to proper car detailing and maintenance.

It doesn’t matter how often you drive your car, may that be every single day or once in a blue moon.

The fact that you’re using it means that it gets dirty.

You might not think much of car washing, but there is a proper and improper way of doing it.

How you remove the dirt from your car’s surface can mean the difference between a scratched or clear paint.

That is why you need to know the right way of washing your car as well as the right tools to clean with.

Also, here is an article to find a list of the best car wash products on the market today.


Discover the best way to wash a car and the products to use!

You don’t need to be a detailer to learn the correct process in regards to car washing.

In fact, even a regular car owner will find it immensely helpful to know the best way to wash a car without scratching its paint.

One simple way to do this is to choose your cleaning products wisely.

It’s not just about what can take off the grit and grime the fastest. It’s also about what scratchy substances to avoid and whatnot.

That’s why it’s important to know what type of fabric your towel has or if there are abrasives in the soap you’re using.

All these can result in dull and damaged paintwork if you’re not careful.

Good thing there are cleaning products specially made for automotive use!

You can use soft foam pads or microfiber cloths for applying the product. The fabrics on these products glide on smoothly and reduce the chances of scratching.

You can also choose to go the traditional way of using car shampoo or try out the new rinseless car wash.

Head to the waterless car wash post to discover the innovative advantages of using a no rinse car wash.

So, in this article, we’ll explore:


How to Wash a Car at a Carwash?

how to detail your car

If you live in an area that has colder temperatures, there might be times when you just don’t want to wash your car because it’s freezing outside.

Plus, if you don’t properly dry off the water, it can freeze on your paint. So, going to a carwash is one of your better choices.

At some shops, you don’t even need to wash your own car (which is always a plus!).

But you can also go to the self-service carwashes available in your area, or try the automated ones.

Wherever you go to is based on your personal preference.

But if you do go to a self-service carwash, what do you need to do?

  1. Park your car. Make sure that your car is all the way inside the garage bay. Follow the guidelines if there are any.
  2. Check the payment method. Find out if the carwash service needs cash or credit. Get the appropriate payment method ready.
  3. Learn the settings. Make sure you understand the settings you’re going to use. Here are the three primary settings you need to know:
    • Wash: Soaks your car thoroughly.
    • Soap: Applies car soap or shampoo all over your car.
    • Rinse: Removes soap/shampoo from your car’s surface.
  4. Pay. Make sure you pay the appropriate amount in the machine.
  5. Wash your car. Thoroughly spray your car. Use all the allotted time (the spray will stop automatically). If there’s a sponge in the garage bay, clean it thoroughly and wipe the car down before rinsing.
  6. Dry your car. Most carwashes don’t have drying options, so a lot of people just air dry their vehicle as they leave. But you can always bring your own drying towels to dry it then and there.

If you want a more thorough guide, check out this article about How to Use a Self-Service Car Wash.

Watch this video to learn more about proper car washing at home.



The Best Way to Dry a Car

Now that you know one way to wash your car, it’s a good idea to learn how to dry your car as well properly. This is just as important!

Your chosen car soap or shampoo has the ability to carry the dirt and remove it without scratching your paint.

But if you’re looking at the situation realistically, it won’t remove 100% of the pollutants there.

So if you use the wrong drying towel and wipe it vigorously on your paint, you’ll still risk scratching it, and that’s not good!

The first advice is to use microfiber towels. Make sure you have more than variety as different microfiber towels work distinctly better depending on the job at hand.

A waffle-weave microfiber towel, for instance, is excellent if you want to do more space in less the time. They can also absorb up to 7 times more than their weight in water.

Remember no to use terry cloth and old bath towels as they become hard, and might not be suitable for your car paint.

The next advice is to create a drying routine. Dry your windows and glass first and then go on to the body.

Once the body is completely dry, open your car doors and trunk to wipe away excess water from the corners. Lastly, dry your wheels.

Dry your wheels using a towel or chamois that is designated just for this purpose. Don’t use this towel on your paint to avoid cross-contamination. – Autogeek

If you want to discover which brands to get, head on over to this article about car wash towels.

Read this article on Best Way to Dry a Car for a more comprehensive drying guide.


What to Use to Wash a Car?

rinseless car wash

Knowing the step by step of washing and drying your car is all great, but it won’t do you any good if you don’t use the right tools.

Aside from using soft cloths from marring your car’s paint, you should also get a few more items to help you out and wear the right clothes.

Be prepared to get wet and soapy. Wear the appropriate work clothes: shoes, shorts and rubber sandals when the weather permits, long pants and rubber boots when it is a bit chilly. – WikiHow

That’s right! Your car isn’t the only one that needs to be prepared. Make sure that you’re wearing the right clothes for the job.

A comfy shirt, shorts, and sandals are suitable clothes for washing your car during normal weather.

Do not wear your accessories like rings and such or bulky belt buckle as it might scratch your car paint if not careful.

Also, car keys and coins that you kept inside your pocket can even potentially dent the car’s body if you lean against it with force.

Using the right tool for the job

Next comes the actual car products. First off is choosing the washing mitt you’ll get.

A recommended one would be a microfiber wash mitt that you can wear like a glove. You will also need to have access to a hose, car cleaner (soap or shampoo), and a bucket.

Using two buckets instead of one might be wise. One is for soapy water, and the other one is for rinsing.

Insert grit guards to reduce the chances of dirt scratching your paint. When it comes to the best car soap, it’ll go down to either personal preference or your situation.

Some people still prefer a car shampoo that foams, and you need to rinse out. It definitely feels a lot cleaner when you use that.

Others are leaning more into waterless car washes. That’s because it’s an eco-friendlier alternative, use significantly less water, and it does the job as effectively as well.

If you want to know about one of the best no rinse car wash brands out there, read about Optimum No Rinse.


What is the Best Car Wash Soap?

But if you’re still interested in traditional car soaps, there are ample good brands too!

These car wash soaps are widely available in your auto shops, hardware stores, and even groceries.

Plus, you can avail them from the comforts of your home by buying them through online shops like Amazon.

Here are some of the best recommended car soaps you can check out for yourself:

Adam's Car Wash Shampoo (Gallon) - pH Car Wash Soap For Snow Foam Cannon, Foam Gun, Pressure Washer...
3,004 Reviews
Adam's Car Wash Shampoo (Gallon) - pH Car Wash Soap For Snow Foam Cannon, Foam Gun, Pressure Washer...
  • ✅ BUILD A CAR WASH KIT - Adam’s Car...
Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash, Car Wash Foam for Car Cleaning - 1 Gallon Container
  • CAR WASH FOAM: One-gallon container of...
  • CLEAR COAT SAFE: Made using safe,...
  • RICH CAR SHAMPOO: Premium formula gently and...
  • PAINT CONDITIONER: Luxurious formula clears...
Chemical Guys CWS_110 Honeydew Snow Foam Car Wash Soap (Works with Foam Cannons, Foam Guns or Bucket...
  • 10 plus YEARS OF HAPPY CUSTOMERS – Chemical...
  • A WHOLE NEW LEVEL OF FOAM – The key to a...
  • BUCKET, FOAM GUN OR CANNON – Whether you...

Another product you might like to try that’s in the waterless variety is:

Eco Touch Waterless Wash Super Concentrate 1 Gallon
  • Dilutes with water to create waterless car...
  • Great for auto detailers, car enthusiasts or...
  • Leaves surface looking clean and polished...
  • Cleans up to 250 mid-sized sedans


DIY Car Wash Soap

If you want to become handier, you can always try making your own car wash soap. It’s not as hard as most people think.

All you really need is a few common household items, and you’re good to go.

Now, be warned, some of these soaps might be a little too harsh on your paint.

So, to be safe, only do this when you absolutely have no other choice.

Head on over to the article, How to Make Your Own Car Wash Soap, to learn more about this homemade product.


Can I Use Shampoo to Wash My Car?

car wash detergent

It’s not advisable to use shampoos other than car shampoos on your paint. After all, they are made specially for that reason.

The reason you should stick to automotive shampoos and soaps is that because their formula is gentle enough not to mar your paint.

Dishwashing soaps and hair shampoos might contain ingredients that can make your paintwork look dull and less visually stunning.

For example, dishwashing detergents have very fine abrasives that may not cause any visible scratches but will still result in an overall less shine.

But if you don’t have any other choice, they are good alternatives.

So as long as you don’t use them too often. Baby shampoos, once diluted, can even be used to wipe away bird droppings and such.

For best results, however, use certified automotive cleaning products like the Meguiar’s Waterless Car Wash.

And, how often should you wash your car?

Well, it depends on you. If you’re driving a lot, very likely your car will be caught on with dirt and such a lot faster. So weekly wash is about right.

While people are saying that cars should not be washed too often because each wash is going to create more scratches. They are right to say so!

However, it’s only true if you use non-car shampoo or soap and washing it incorrectly and using the wrong accessories.

If you have taken care of all the tips and steps that we just discussed above, you should have a scratch-free car no matter how many times you wash it.


How to Detail a Car?

Now that you know how to wash your car, you’re ready to learn the finer process of detailing. This includes polishing and waxing.

Remember that there are other steps involved in detailing, both in the interior and exterior.

For now, let’s focus on the outside.

The best way to wax a car is to make sure that the paint is ready, and in the condition you want to maintain.

If any surface imperfections are remaining, make sure to use a compound and polish to remove it first.

Read this article to learn more about car compound.

Waxing can only provide award-winning shine and the ultimate protection.

How to Wax Your Car?

Waxing your car is easy if you follow the correct steps and use the right products.

Find out more by reading this article: How to Wax a Car.

Best Car Polish

Likewise, polishing is also an easy feat just as long as you know what you’re doing.

There are many ways on how polishing can go wrong just because you’re dealing with abrasives (think sandpaper for your paint!).

So make sure to follow instructions well.

If you want to learn more about polishing and which are the best car polish to buy, head on over to this article best car polish and wax on the market right now for more info.

  • Updated December 4, 2018
James Evans

As a passionate outdoorsman and an automobile enthusiast, James spent most of his time in his garage tinkering with cars and bikes. During his free time, he loves to hike and blog about the things that he has done to keep his ride in tip-top condition.

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