How to Wash a Car

November 28th, 2018 by

washing car
An automatic car wash is certainly convenient, but if you want to protect your vehicle’s value for the long run, there’s no substitute for hands-on attention as a regular part of your vehicle care. Although it’s easy to mess up when you’re first learning how to wash a car, the process can be calming, even meditative, once you’ve got the hang of things. Before you get started, you’ll need to make sure that you have each of the following items:

  • A large supply of clean water, or a connected hose.
  • Two to three sponges
  • Lambswool wash mitts
  • Microfiber towels
  • Car wax
  • Water repellent
  • Bug-and-tar remover
  • At least two buckets
  • Specialized car wash detergent

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When you’re collecting your supplies, it’s important to avoid common household products like dish soap, as well as glass cleaners that contain alcohol and glycol. Windex falls into the latter category and can damage your paint if you’re not careful.

When to Wash Your Car

Knowing how often to wash a car isn’t always easy, as any general rule-of-thumb is subject to change based on driving conditions and weather. Still, there are a few things that drivers from the greater Granger area should be sure to keep in mind:

  • In most cases, you can prevent rust and other types of visible degradation by washing your car once every two weeks.
  • Road salt can damage paint and lead to corrosion if it isn’t washed off right away. If you can, wash your car more frequently during the winter, once every seven to ten days.
  • You don’t need to wax your vehicle every time you wash your car, but it’s a good idea to wax at least twice a year. Since car wax can help to protect your vehicle from harmful road salt, it’s especially important to wax before winter.
  • It’s best to wash your car when it’s not too sunny, yet not too cold! Too much sun (or a lack of shade) can cause water to evaporate rapidly. When this happens, paint splotches are generated. When it’s too cold, water can get trapped in your locks and freeze them shut.

Hand Car Wash: Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that you have all your supplies, and you’ve chosen the right time and place to wash your car, it’s time to start the process. Follow these steps to get the job done right the first time through:

  1. Mix car wash detergent with water in one or more of your buckets, using the soap to water ratio recommended in your owner’s manual. Make sure to leave at least one bucket for water that’s free of soap, so you’ll be able to rinse as you go.
  2. Before you put soap on your car, rinse everything off with a hose, or by hand if necessary. This will remove any large and loose debris that could scratch your paint if it isn’t caught early.
  3. After the rinse, it’s time to break out the soapy water. When you take your soapy sponge or wash mitt to the surface of your car, it’s important to avoid short, circular motions, which generate small scratches known as “swirl marks”. Instead, draw your soapy mitt or sponge lengthwise across the surface of your vehicle.
  4. The process works best when you wash your vehicle from top to bottom. This way, dirty water drips down, and doesn’t contaminate parts of the vehicle that you’ve already washed. After washing, it’s a good idea to rinse each surface before moving on to another.
  5. Don’t scrape or scrub too hard! If there’s a stuck-on mess, it’s best to soak it ahead of time so it comes off easily. When cleaning bird droppings and bugs, you might also consider a bug-and-tar remover.
  6. It’s no secret that the worst dirt, grime, and brake dust tends to collect in your wheel wells. Use a scrubbing brush and a specialized remover to clean these areas without trouble. Although a pressure washer can make the job easier, you’ll have to be careful where you aim to avoid damaging your car paint, or spraying mud where it doesn’t belong.
  7. Even when the weather is mild, you may notice water spots on your car if you allow it to air dry. For best results, dry your car using a microfiber towel. It’s a bad idea to substitute another kind of towel during this process, as microfiber is specially designed to minimize scratching.
  8. Instead of using glass cleaner, clean up your windshield using baby wipes or a dry microfiber cloth. When your windshield is dry, apply a water repellent to the surface to keep it sparkling.
  9. If water does not ‘bead’ on the surface of your vehicle as it drys, it may be time to apply a new coat of wax (or two)!

Visit Jordan Ford for More Tips!

Keep up with Jordan Ford to learn about basic vehicle maintenance, winter preparation tips, technology features like Ford SYNC®, and how to customize your Ford truck. If you have any questions, reach out to one of our representatives! We’re trusted by drivers from South Bend to Niles, and we’re always happy to help.