Regular washing is the best way to protect a car’s finish and to ward off rust. Air pollutants, road salt, bird droppings and other contaminants can break down a vehicle’s protective coating, leaving a dull surface that is vulnerable to corrosion. With a few basic supplies, and a little effort, a car owner can keep a vehicle’s new shine for years to come.
To wash your vehicle, select a day with no rain in the forecast and work in a location out of direct sunlight. Throughout the process, the car must remain wet to avoid spotting. Select a detergent specifically designed for auto surfaces. Dish soap, which is designed to cut through grease, can strip away car wax and damage rubber trims. Use microfiber or chamois cloth, or a microfiber cleaning mitt, as regular terry cloth towels do not pick up dirt, instead they just push the dirt around.
Pre-treat baked-on grime, bugs, and tar with undiluted car wash soap. A spray bottle works well for this step. The wheels tend to gather the most dirt and dust. They will need to soak for about 15 minutes. An accumulation of brake dust, which is normal with semi-metallic brakes, may require a special product designed for cleaning wheels. Give the vehicle a preliminary rinse to remove loose dirt particles that could scratch the surface. Open the truck and hood to remove dirt and leaves that may have lodged in the seams, and clear any debris from the windshield gutter beneath the wipers.
Fill a bucket with water and add the recommended amount of car wash soap. Fill a second bucket with water to use for rinsing the cleaning cloth or mitt. Having this second bucket prevents the soapy wash water from becoming contaminated with dirt.
With the soapy water, wash a small section of the car; rinse out the cleaning cloth with the clear water, then load the cloth up with soapy water to wash the next section. Start from the top of the car and work down to the rocker panels and bumpers. Do not scrub hard, as this will grind any loose dirt into the car’s finish and create scratches.
After the entire car has been soaped, give it a final rinse with a gentle stream of water from the hose, beginning at the top of the car and working down. To prevent water spots, dry the car with an absorbent chamois or microfiber cloth. Drag the cloth over the vehicle surface to absorb the water, then dry crevices with a microfiber towel. Be sure to dry doorjambs and the areas under the hood and truck lid.
Ideally, a car driven daily should be washed once a week. This simple process will help a vehicle retain value, protecting the car owner’s investment.