DIY Car Washing Tips

Skip the pricey car wash – DIY tips to washing your car

Now that spring is here, people are tempted to wash their cars at home, rather than wait in long lines at the car wash or overpay to have the job done!

Easy DIY car washing tips:

  • While some folks use ordinary detergent. To optimally protect the car’s finish, it’s best to avoid using dish detergent and opt for products on the market designed specifically for washing cars. This reduces streaks and soapy residue deposits which can dull a car’s finish.
  • When washing the vehicle, make sure the engine/car is not hot or in direct sunlight as spot deposits may form.
  • Prop the windshield wipers away from windshield the glass before starting.
  • Never use anything abrasive on the vehicle
  • If unsure of which products to use on your car, contact the manufacturer for suggestions

What you need:

  • hose with nozzle
  • 2 buckets
  • 2 soft natural sponges
  • car washing detergent
  • wheel cleaner (safe for all vehicles)
  • wheel brush/plastic brush
  • chamois or terry towels
  • pliable squeegee
  • Windex
  • microfiber towel
  • RainX


DIY directions:

  1. Fill one bucket with water and add desired amount of car wash soap per directions. Work the solution into a sudsy lather.
  2. Fill a second bucket with clean water. This is your rinsing water.
  3. Using a hose with a nozzle, rinse car to remove debris. Move from the top down. Wet the entire car and keep the car wet while washing.
  4. Turn water on/off with nozzle as needed. Do not let water wastefully run while washing the car.
  5. Wash in sections. Spray and wash the top of the car first. Save the lower body and wheels (the dirtiest part of car) for last.
  6. First, dip sponge into clean water and squeeze out. This step serves to clean the grime from the sponge. Repeat each time.
  7. Then dip into soapy water before applying sponge to car.
  8. Change water in buckets as needed.
  9. Move sponge in lengthwise motion across vehicle’s body. Avoid making circles which can leave marks.
  10. As you wash the car, remember to keep the entire vehicle wet in order to towel dry it quickly at the end.
  11. Concentrate on one area at a time. Dirty spots may need multiple passes. Wash and rinse before moving to a new section.
  12. Use a separate sponge to clean the wheels and rim. If desired, use a wheel cleaner labeled for use on all vehicles. Dirty hub caps and wheels may require cleaning with a plastic or wheel brush. Never use a brush on the body of the car as it will scratch the paint.
  13. Don’t let the car air-dry as it can leave water marks. Instead, hand dry the car with a special soft towel (chamois or terry towel) made for drying cars, available at automotive stores.
  14. Use a pliable squeegee to remove excess water on windows and follow up with Windex or your choice of window cleaner as needed to remove smudges. Use a microfiber towel to apply and dry the Windex.
  15. Consider applying RainX to the clean, dry glass. This serves to repel water and improve visibility. Follow application directions carefully.


More on Waxing:

Waxing can bring out the shine in a car, however, it must be done carefully and correctly. There are a lot of products on the market. Be sure to ask your car dealer which one is best to use to avoid harming your car’s finish. However, you may want to avoid buying wax directly from car dealers, who upcharge substantially. You may be able to find an identical product for much less at an automotive shop or big box store. If you’re unsure, leave the job of waxing to the professionals. Most dealers will recommend waxing a car at least twice a year, but again if unsure, call and ask them directly.

Prefer to use a professional car wash service?


REMINDER: If you are unable to wash your car yourself or prefer to use a car wash service, remove all personal items from your vehicle, including your registration/insurance information and garage door opener. Make sure you do not leave wallets, check books, jewelry, cash, or school books/backpacks containing personal information.

Unfortunately, some services employee people who would think nothing of stealing your personal information or stealing your garage door opener and address information so they can break into your house. In addition, many services do not obtain background checks on employees leaving them susceptible to hiring unscrupulous characters.

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