5(ish) Car Washing Tips
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
I never received my how to adult successfully manual (and I'm still angry about it). It's all well and good to know the basics - how to not burn down the house and for the most part ensure I'm always wearing clean undies. But what about those Sunday afternoon chores? Who is teaching us about air conditioner maintenance (just recently found it's every two bloody weeks)?! Well I may not know how often you water the lemon tree or how to repaint the front fence, but I do know my way around washing a car or two.
1. RINSE FIRST
Always hose your vehicle down with the before cleaning. Dry wiping at dust and grit can cause friction that will leave scratches in the paint. Believe me, this is serious business. When I was little I wrote "I love you Dad" in the dust on his ridiculously painted motorbike and as a result, had my coveted Pokemon card collection confiscated. Honestly, I don't know if either of us ever really recovered from it.
2. NEVER WASH IN THE SUN
If you can, try to wash your car in the hours before or after the sun has had a chance to heat the metal. Cold or cool water will cause a hot body to contract, which can lead to "stress" cracks in the paint. An added bonus of washing in the evening, is the ease of keeping the vehicle wet whilst you wash; ensuring you don't get sun dried spots before you have a chance to rinse.
3. BE THOROUGH, BUT GENTLE
If you fork out a little extra for a decent sponge and some commercial grade product (never use laundry or dish detergent), it will save you money*, time and effort**. Avoid washing in a circular motion, instead try to follow the natural curves and contours of the vehicle (I also learnt this the hard way). Moving with the flow of the vehicle will save you from "spider webbing" and circular scratches.
* Commercial grade product will usually last you twice as long due to the amount required, a little goes a long way with the good stuff. Designed to keep protective finishes on the surface of your car, you won't be looking to update your paint work if you spend a little extra here.
** High end product does the work for you, chemically designed to clean grime so you can save on elbow grease.
4. ROOF, BODY, WHEELS
Start at the top of your car and work your way down (because gravity). Washing section by section will get you the most shine and you won't be doubling back to rewash any areas. Rinse, wash (more suds the better) and rinse. Continue all the way down the (very) rough outline.
- Cant rails (section between roof and top of your doors
- Rear bumper bar
- Front bumper bar
5. RISE AND CHAMOIS
Finally rinse every section one last time with fresh water and chamois your car off. Again, you will save so much time and effort if you spend a little more here. A decent, well looked after chamois will last you well past its value and sometimes for a life time. Stay with the natural flow and contour of the vehicle to avoid streaking. Finally, stand back, hands on hips and admire a job well done.
Caution: Washing too frequently can remove the factory paint protection, causing peeling paints and sun damage. I wash the car once a month, sometimes twice if the weather or birds have been particularly nasty.