How to Wash a Car

Automotive, Home & Family
on October 21, 2011

Wash your car like the pros. Here’s how.

Get the right supplies. Consumer Reports offers suggestions for the right car washing supplies:

• Use car wash soap, not dish soap or household cleaners.

• Wash mitts made of sheepskin are superior to ordinary towels that often just push the dirt around instead of removing it.

• Two buckets are better than one; use one for soapy water and one for clear water.

• An absorbent waffle-weave drying towel works better than the traditional chamois. Both work better than a dish towel.

Start washing before you start washing. Bird droppings, dead bugs and hard-to-clean stains should be scrubbed first. If the wheels are dirty, wash them before wetting the body of the car. Make sure the wheels are sufficiently cooled, or the quickly evaporating water could result in spots. Car wash soap works well, but wheel cleaner works better. Don’t use the same washing mitt or towel on the wheels that you use on the car body. Remove dirt from hard-to-reach areas with an old toothbrush. Rinse the wheels with a hose.

Wash the car. Rinse the entire vehicle with a hose, starting at the roof and working your way down. Open the hood and remove any debris. Use latex gloves and scrape out the dirt with your fingers. Do not spray inside the hood. Fill one bucket with soapy water, the other with clear water. Scrub the car with a soapy, water-logged mitt. Rinse and reload the mitt frequently. Once you’ve scrubbed the entire car, give it a quick once-over with the mitt. Remove the spray nozzle from the hose. Rinse the soap off the car with a gentle stream of water.

Dry the car. Use a car-appropriate drying towel and begin drying immediately after the rinse. Waffle-weave drying towels work best. Simply spread it out, lay it on the car and drag it across. Use a microfiber towel for detail drying. Be sure to wipe water off of door jambs and other hidden spots to avoid post-dry dripping. If water does not bead during the rinse, you may want to wax the exterior.

Wash your car regularly and don’t wait for a layer of crud and dirt to gather before you bring out the buckets and soap.