Before cleaning your car, check the recommendations made in your owner's manual and on the labels of any products you use.
Washing your car regularly will keep it looking like new. Some even believe that a clean car runs better. Download the Cleaning Equipment Checklist to make sure you have what you need to do the best job.
- Try washing your car in a cool, shady area to avoid streaking and reduce water spotting.
- Use a car wash soap instead of dish soap, as some dish soaps can strip the wax and damage the car's finish. Good car wash products contain surfactants that emulsify the oil and grease that collects on the surface of the car, making it easier to wash away with water.
- Use plenty of water in a large bucket so that dirt will settle to the bottom and cleaner water will stay at the top.
- Use a low-pressure stream of water to avoid damaging the paint.
- Use a sponge or mitt designed for automotive use. A lamb's wool mitt works particularly well.
- Start at the top of the vehicle and move down. The bottom parts of your car accumulate the most dirt, so starting at the top will help to avoid dragging dirt onto other parts of your car.
- To avoid scratching your car with dirt and grime while washing, repeatedly clean your wash rag and refill the bucket water, especially if it's very dirty.
- Use different wash rags for your car and tires. Change out frequently to avoid scraping your car's surface with embedded dirt.
- To remove stubborn stains such as insects, road tar, tree sap, and bird droppings, try using an undiluted car wash soap. Using a sponge, apply the product full strength directly onto the spots, let penetrate for 3-5 minutes, then wash off with a stream of water.
- To avoid water spotting, dry the car immediately with a chamois or a 100%25 cotton terry cloth towel.
- For finishing touches, a microfiber cloth works nicely. Some people even use cloth baby diapers to give a car a buffed look.
Using a Clay Bar
- Clay bars contain very small abrasive particles that polish the surface, thereby removing contaminants.
- Consider using a clay bar to clean hard-to-remove residues that may not be washed away using a traditional car wash.
- The key to using a clay bar successfully is the liberal use of a lubricating spray. When used with a lubricant, clay will give you a perfectly smooth, glossy finish.