It may seem like something everyone knows how to do but the reality is that a lot of people make a number of mistakes when cleaning their car which can lead to a poor finish, scratches and faded paint work. There are a few simple rules and tips to follow that can not only make your car look a lot better after a wash but also make sure when you come to sell it the paintwork doesn’t let you down!
Start With Clean Equipment
Car washing rule number 1! Never start washing your car with dirty sponges, buckets are anything else. The only part of the equation that should be anything other than super clean is the car itself. Rinse out the bucket that you are going to use at least 3 or 4 times and make sure there is no dried on grit around the sides of the bucket. The same has to be done with the sponge or sponges you plan to use. The sponge should be clean enough you could use it to shower yourself…no one wants to wash with a gritty sponge so use the same rule for your car. Any grit in the bucket or on the sponge is only going to end up either back on the car or worse; scratching the paint. You may not even notice the paint is scratching but over time the finish will dull even with ultra-fine grit. It is also worth have 2 or 3 sponges ready because if you happen to drop one, it is critical you do not then put than back into the bucket and add all the girt from the driveway into the mix.
The idea of washing a car before you wash it does seem rather silly but by hosing down the car thoroughly before beginning the actual washing process you will remove much of the dust, grit and mud. Once again, it is key to avoid moving dirt over the paintwork so getting it all off with a hose first will not only make washing easier but will keep that paintwork in good shape too. Use a low setting on the hose initially to get things wet and hopefully moving, you can then step up the pressure to get more stubborn grime off but avoid really high pressures at this stage as it can force the nasty stuff either into gaps or across the paint.
Start at the Top and Go Down
As you start applying the sponge and detergent start on the top of the car and work your way down. There is really no point in cleaning the bottom and then letting all the dirt from the upper part of the body run down over it.
One Panel at a Time
It can be hard to remember or see which bits of the body you have cleaned properly when everything looks covered in foam so do a single body panel at a time before refreshing the sponge and moving on. Work on a front wing, then front door, back door, rear wing and then boot. Continue in this way around the car and you will never end up with a big dirty patch left at the end…but don’t forget the roof!
Keep the Speed Up
Washing a car is not an easy task and can be hard work but it is important to maintain the speed of washing. Applying and scrubbing with the sponge needs to be done in quick succession to avoid the foam drying on as it can affect the finish and may leave marks.
Rinse – the easy bit
By far and away the most pleasurable part of washing a car is rinsing off the foam. Get the hose fired up and just work round the car, once again, working form the top to the bottom. Be sure to go over the roof first, then around the roof rails and get every last bit of foam off each part before moving down and around the car. The key is to allow the water going onto the bit you are working on to then flow down over the bit you are about to work on. Be wary around the base of the windscreen; this area can hold onto foam and needs to be thoroughly rinsed to avoid it appearing again later on.
Cleaning the Wheels
The vast majority of cars on the road these days have alloy wheels, these look great when clean but awful when covered in brake dust. The best way to clean them is to pick up a specific alloy wheel cleaning fluid. Have a spare sponge and brush ready and follow the instructions. It does take a bit of elbow grease but the finish is always worth it. With time in mind it is best to leave the wheels until the rest of the car has been rinsed. This means you won’t rush this part while trying to avoid the foam drying. The other reason is that you can always give the wheels a bit of a go with the hose and foam to get the worst off before setting about them in more detail.
Most good car detergents have wax in the mixture and this means you do not have to wax the car after a wash. If you do wish to go the extra mile then take time to read the instructions, look for online tutorials and take great care. Some waxes have abrasives and may be designed for specific paint finishes. Using the wrong sort could result in damage paint work.
Washing your car is never easy but getting a really good finish certainly makes it feel a lot more worth while.
Although vacuuming your car is a bit frustrating, there is no better feeling than getting into a freshly vacuumed car that is completely dust and dirt free. If you want to get all the dust and dirt out of the interior, you will need a decent car vacuum.
Article provided by Ade Holder, an independent content writer in the motoring industry. For the information in this post AA Motoriety were consulted.