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The Single Best And Proper Way On How To Wash A Car

Many people think that washing a car is a mundane task. As an enthusiastic car owner, I find that hard to believe. Bet you don’t think that taking a bath each and every morning is mundane, right? So why not wash your car at least once a week?

Your car is constantly exposed to the harsh elements of nature. Even just a modicum of neglect will lead to a costly paint job in the future. Dull, flat, and lifeless paint will also lower the resale value of your vehicle.

Here’s another fact: your car is an extension of your personality. It is understandable that a busy individual might not have enough time in a single week to even wash or wax their cars. But you also have to think about the visual impact of a filthy car, and how that reflects you as the driver or owner of the vehicle.

It does not matter what the pundits say, but your car will look better with frequent washing and waxing, especially when bought brand new. It is relatively easy to maintain your car and make it look like new, even after 5 or 10 years. Car owners who frequently undergo car wash and detailing always end up with the best looking car in the group in terms of paint depth and shine.

How To Wash Your Car

If you don’t have the time to wash your car, then there is a solution: the automatic car wash. You know, that place where you drive your car towards a lit tunnel filled with gigantic rotating brushes and an amalgamation of foam, soap, and powerful gushes of steaming water. That will get the job done, right?

I hate to break it to you, but no. Automatic car washes are well and good, but they sometimes utilize harmful tools or poor techniques, all of which will fail at preserving the shine and color of your paint. This is particularly true if your car has a darker shade of paint.

I used to drive around town in a midnight black Japanese sports coupe. That thing had the most beautiful paint job, but there is a catch: paint maintenance. The awesome jet-black finish demands a lot of time and money in terms of washing, polishing, and waxing. The problem with dark paint jobs is the presence of swirl marks in the finish. Light-colored paint jobs have a different problem to deal with: yellowing.

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What Causes Swirl Marks And Yellowing On Car Paint?

Like I previously mentioned above, dark-colored paint jobs have more visible swirl marks. Swirl marks are minuscule scratches on the paint. They are caused by improper washing and wiping techniques, such as wiping the paint with a dry towel when the surface is dry or dusty or wiping the surface using a dirty towel.

The yellowing of the paint is caused by oxidation. If you have a white car and you don’t clean it often, or if you let a week’s worth of mud and dirt baking in the paint, then the surface will turn yellowish due to oxidation damage.

With proper washing and waxing techniques, there is no reason why your paint should turn yellow, or why it should be littered with annoying swirl marks.

The funny thing is it is relatively easy to avoid yellowing or swirl marks in the paint. All you have to do is to wash your car properly at least once a week and to wax or polish the paint at least once every three months. That’s all it takes!

Pre-Wash Tips And Tricks

Car Pre-Wash Tips And Tricks

1. Never wash your car under the hot sun. Always wash your car in a shaded area or garage. If you don’t have access to a garage, you should wash your car at dusk or when the sun is about to set.

2. Let the paint surface cool before washing the car. If you just came from a long drive, you should allow the car to cool down for at least an hour before proceeding.

3. If your car, truck or SUV is extremely dirty, you should hose off all the excess dirt from the wheels and paint before using car shampoo. Grab a small terry cloth towel and hose off all the excess mud and dirt while wiping them off from the paint. Do not wipe a dry paint surface. Rinse the towel and repeat it. This will prevent minor scratches and swirl marks.

4. Use a separate bucket of soapy water to clean the wheels and tires. You should also use a separate brush or cloth to scrub the wheels. Many people say that you should clean the wheels first before washing the body, but it all boils down to preference. The important thing to remember is to use a separate set of materials to clean the wheels and the body.

5. Avoid using dish soap or harsh detergents. These products will strip away the wax that protects your paint from UV damage and oxidation. Dish soap will also dry out all the plastic and rubber parts in your car (wiper blades, door and glass seals, headlights and taillights, etc.), which will lead to early degradation. Only use dish soap to remove tire blooming, but do not wash the paint finish using dish soap.

The Best And Proper Way On How To Wash A Car

It doesn’t matter if you have a brand new vehicle or a used clunker. If you follow these simple steps, you will a cleaner and newer looking car without spending tons of money on expensive automotive detailing services.

What You Will Need:

  • Garden hose and water outlet
  • 2 pcs. small or average-sized bucket
  • ​Car wash soap or shampoo
  • ​Car wash sponge or mitt
  • ​Chamois
  • ​Terry cloth towel (preferably more than 4 pieces)
  • ​Glass Cleaner
  • Tire dressing

Step 1: Prepare The Washing Solution

How To Wash A Car - Step 1

Mix a capful or two of car shampoo in a small bucket of water. Mix until sudsy and foamy. Prepare a separate bucket of soapy water for cleaning the wheels and tires.

Step 2: Use The Hose To Wet And Rinse The Surface Prior To Washing

How To Wash A Car - Step 2

Spray a strong gush of water on the roof, hood, and trunk of the car. This practice will remove loose dirt and grit from the surface of the paint. Spray water on the sides of the vehicle and under the front and rear fenders as well.

Step 3: Apply Shampoo On The Body Of The Car

How To Wash A Car - Step 3

At this point, you can begin washing the wheels and tires before proceeding to wash the body. You can also wash the wheels after rinsing the car. It’s your choice.

Don’t use an ordinary towel to wash your car. You need the best wash mitt or car wash sponge that absorbs dirt and prevents scratches on the paint. Use a car wash mitt or a sponge, dip it in your bucket of soapy water, and wash the roof of the car first. You will need to wash the top portion of the car first before proceeding to wash the lower portions of your vehicle.

Start washing the roof, the front windshield, rear windshield, the hood, and the trunk of your vehicle. Next, wash the side windows and the upper portion of the doors followed by the bumpers and the rocker panels. This alone will prevent microscopic dirt particles from scratching the upper portion of the paint, which happens to be the portion that people notice the most.

Step 4: Rinse Off With Clean Water

How To Wash A Car - Step 4

Rinse the car from the top to the bottom. Start spraying the roof, hood, and trunk with water. Proceed to rinse the bumpers, the sides, and the rocker panels. Make sure to remove any trace of soap or foam from the surface.

Step 5: Dry The Car

How To Wash A Car - Step 5

Whip out a clean chamois or terry cloth towel and wipe the car dry. Follow the same top-to-bottom pattern when drying the vehicle. Start with the roof, the front and rear windshields, the hood, and the trunk. Next, you can proceed drying the windows, the upper portion of the doors, and the bumpers. The rocker panels and the lower portion of the doors should be dried last.

Again, this method will prevent scratches and swirl marks on the paint finish.

Step 6: Apply Glass Cleaner

How To Wash A Car - Step 6

This step is optional. But I highly recommend cleaning the glass and windows using a high-quality glass cleaner after washing the car. This is not only to provide better visibility, but squeaky-clean windows will make your car sparkle, whether your windows are tinted or not.

Simply spray a small amount of glass cleaner on the surface and wipe dry with a clean terry cloth towel. You should keep a separate towel specifically for the glass and windows.

It is also a good idea to clean the insides of the windows and glass, especially if you always drive with the windows open, or if you smoke while driving. You will immediately see and feel the difference. Remember that sparkling-clean windows will make for a more pleasurable drive. Take my word for it.

Step 7: Apply Tire Dressing

How To Wash A Car - Step 7

This is the final step in the proper way to wash a car. Use a small sponge and apply tire dressing on the sidewalls of your tires.

The best tire shine will not only make your car look newer and cleaner, but it will also prevent tire blooming and will restore the black appearance of your tires. This will complete the newly-washed look of your ride!

​You might also be interested in how to clean car tires the right way.


You might have noticed that the best way to wash a car is by applying the right mix of art and science. The way you wash, apply shampoo, and dry the car requires the right technique (top-to-bottom to prevent swirl marks, using a separate towel to wash and dry the body). The science part involves the use of the right products that are scientifically formulated for automotive use (car shampoo, glass cleaner, and tire dressing).

Remember to wash your car at least once a week, whether it is extremely dirty or not. It is also a good idea to clean the interior regularly by using a car vacuum cleaner and a clean towel. In order to protect and beautify the paint, you should also use the best car wax/polish at least every three months or more.

About George Bradley

George is an enthusiastic blogger and an auto mechanic expert whose mission is to provide the readers with the best tips, guides, and recent events in the automotive industry. He has been involved in researching on various topics that are essential to the car owners, especially when it comes to an understanding, maintaining and handling their vehicles.

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