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Make The Most of a DIY Summer Car Wash

Most drivers would rather drive around in a clean, shiny vehicle than one coated with a layer of dirt.  When warmer weather comes around, many vehicle owners are determined to wash their own vehicles.

While car washes are an important part of preventative maintenance and overall car care, there are right and wrong ways to clean a vehicle. Before jumping into a home car wash, there are a few things every eager car owner should know to protect the paint and its luster. 

Cool body

Washing your car when the body is hot is not a good idea. If it’s been sitting out in the sun or you’ve been riding around on a sunny day, make sure you cool your vehicle off by either moving it to the shade or wetting it down with cool water. 

The problem with washing a hot vehicle is that it’s going to dry so fast, minerals in the water can form hard-to-remove spots on the car’s paint.  And some of those can be really difficult to get rid of. Best to avoid it.

Slippery when wet

Make sure you wet your vehicle down thoroughly before you get the washing mitt out.  Experts keep a couple of buckets of soapy water on hand, to break up dirt and debris. It is important to note that soap for cars is not interchangeable with other common household soaps like dish or hand soap. Car soap is specifically engineered to remove dirt from a vehicle without stripping off the protective wax coating.

The washing mitt

Experts say to use a car washing mitt with hundreds of moisture-absorbing strands on it. Start washing at the top and move down. If you are dipping the mitt in the wash buckets frequently, a minimal amount of dirt will stick to it and that will prevent scratching the paint.

Wheels last

Wait until you’ve finished washing the body before washing the wheels. Some detailers prefer special wheel-washing tools or brushes.

Rinse well

Hose the vehicle off thoroughly to get all the soap off, then dry immediately. Some people swear by a chamois, others like cloth better. Cotton or microfiber towels will do.

The next time you have your vehicle in for maintenance, you might ask your service advisor for recommendations on vehicle washing accessories. They are usually up on the brands that produce the best results. You may not be a detailing pro, but there’s no reason your vehicle can’t look like you are.

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