As a driver, there’s perhaps no better feeling than cleaning your car inside and out and making it sparkle like new. But, what’s the best car wash method, we hear you ask?
In order to get that streak-free, showroom finish, follow these six simple steps to ensure your used car looks as good as new.
Step 1: Invest in high-quality streak-free car wash solution and a cloth
If you want to get your car turning heads, then gleaming bodywork is an absolute must. Start off with the right materials or you could do some damage!
Research the best kind of car wash solution for your car colour; figuring out how to clean a black car without streaks will require a different type of wash than, say, a pink car.
If you’re unsure of what the best cloth to wash a car with is, opt for microfiber cloths, as these tend to be super soft and absorbent.
If you prefer to use a sponge, then don’t settle for anything generic; there’s a chance that using anything but a car-specific sponge will cause scratches to the paintwork.
Then it’s onto hosing and rinsing the car down in a shaded area, as washing your car in the shade minimises water spots.
Step 2: the pre-wash
The pre-wash. If you’re lucky enough to own a jet washer, then snow foam is a worthwhile use of your time. It keeps the cleaning components of the soap in contact with the car for longer, providing a high cleaning rate.
When used correctly it can practically dissolve the dirt on your car and saves your arms from a lot of unnecessary scrubbing. Plus, it’s also a lot of fun to do!
Step 3: clean the car in small sections
If you don’t have a jet/pressure washer, use two buckets – one with a shampoo solution, the other with clean rinse water – dip your mitt in the rinse bucket, before doing the same in the shampoo solution.
Working from the top of the vehicle to the bottom, clean the car in small sections, rinsing the mitt regularly in the rinse bucket before dunking it in the shampoo solution.
Repeat this cleaning process until the whole car is cleaned.
Step 4: rinse, wax and buff
Using your hose, rinse the car clean as you did in Step 1. Now, here’s a little trick from the professionals; don’t spend time drying your car. Instead, leave it wet and using a wet wax, spray the car before buffing it to a shine. Not only will this add a layer of protection and shine to your car, but it will also make future washes much easier.
Step 5: cleaning the wheels
Now, onto your wheels. In order to get rid of that stubborn black brake dust, it’s worth investing in a proper wheel cleaning solution. This can be sprayed on and cleaned with a wheel-friendly brush before being rinsed off. And, if you really want to add the extra touch, a wet shine dressing will give your tyres that professional look and feel.
Step 6: clean the glass and dry
Last, but by no means least, clean your glass to match the rest of your car. Having sprayed a glass cleaner directly onto a microfiber cloth, simply wipe the glass in an up and down, side to side motion. Using a clean microfiber cloth, wipe the glass dry, removing as much wetness as possible to avoid streaks.
Now, all that’s left to do is jump in the driver’s seat, and drive away with a smile on your face!
How often should you wash your car?
This largely depends on the type of driver you are. If you have a penchant for off-roading in the mountains, you’re probably going to need to wash your car more than most. As a general rule of thumb, however, experts recommend washing your car every two weeks.
If you live in a high-salt area – such as near the beach or from salt on iced-over roads – then you will need to wash your car more often than that. Salt can corrode metal and cause rust quickly, so keep on top of this by giving your car a good scrub.
What's the best method to get rid of loose dirt?
Stubborn dirt is a common issue in cars. Sometimes, using a pressure washer isn't enough; meaning you’ll need to get smarter when cleaning your car's exterior.
This advice may come too late, but the best time to clean loose dirt off your car is to sort it out as soon as you see it. Regular washing using the steps outlined above with a good microfibre drying towel or cloth is ideal.
To get rid of the toughest dirt without car streaks, you should follow the below steps:
- If soap and water aren't working, it's time to get out the heavy-duty stuff. Stronger washes, tar removers and polishing compounds can help remove more dirt than soap and water alone. Soak your car in whatever compounds you need, following their instructions carefully.
- After the cleaning compounds have had time to work, grab a wash mitt or microfiber cloth and get to work. Use the towel to physically remove debris and as much dirt as possible. Particularly difficult locations include the car's grille, alloy wheels and around the plastic trim, so spray more product while wiping down these areas if necessary.
- Once the dirt is removed, handwash your car or use a pressure washer. Leave to dry and repeat if necessary.
Of course, nobody wants to get the wash buckets and car shampoo out in colder months, but keeping on top of car washing helps. Otherwise, you spend twice as long removing half the amount of dirt later down the line.
How do you clean black car paint?
Two words: swirl marks.
Black cars are difficult to clean because most car washing leaves behind swirl marks. When exposed to direct sunlight, this can make black cars look dirty, even though they're clean. Other car colours don't have this issue as they hide it better, while black paint, naturally, has the most contrast.
In addition to swirl marks, black cars show dust, water and dirt more, too. Unfortunately, the solution to keeping a black clean is to, well, clean it more. The steps to wash a black car are relatively straightforward, but require some alternate steps compared to other paint colours. However, a quick wash is all that's usually needed.
Why is a black car so hard to keep clean?
If you want to wash a black car, then follow the below steps to get it right:
- Black cars are prone to sunspots, so segment each area of the car to wash. We recommend washing just one side of the car first, drying it, and then starting on the other. This method reduces the chances of sunspots and water markings appearing in hot, sunny weather.
- Use a pressure washer if possible to soak the car. Afterwards, use snow foam liberally to form a thick layer. Leave the foam to sit for a few minutes.
- Pressure wash the foam off with proper form, ensuring you do it slowly and properly. Afterwards, hand wash with good microfiber towels. Use multiple microfiber towels or wash mitts if necessary. Swirl marks are usually the result of rushed technique, and black paint is less forgiving for this than other colours.
- Follow up with high-quality car shampoo, then rinse again with a microfiber cloth. The next step is decontaminating the car with a clay bar and/or a tar and fallout remover. This helps smooth out the car, leading to less faded paint. If you're not familiar with a clay bar, it's essentially a resin-based, soap-like compound that naturally brings contaminants out of a car's paint.
- Polish and wax the car. Follow the above steps on "how to wax your car". Now, you should have a black car that looks and feels clean.
How to wax your car
Before waxing, you must choose between three waxes:
- Spray wax - the quickest to apply.
- Paste wax - takes longer to apply but has long-lasting results.
- Liquid wax - a middle-ground option.
Your choice of car wax is down to personal preference. However, if you don't wax often, then choose paste wax.
When done properly, waxing a car is relatively straightforward:
- Spray the car wax on a car's surface. Split application in sections, as this helps create a clear coat.
- Rub the wax with one side of a good microfiber towel. If you want a clear coat, ensure you take your time and put effort into this section.
- Buff the wax using the other, clean side of the towel.
- Repeat for each section.
You should wax after giving your car a good clean.
Use the best car wash method on a new set of wheels today
findandfundmycar.com works with dealerships across the country to provide you with quality second-hand cars – so find a used car for you to practice your new-found cleaning skills on today.