Car washing tips

Regular washing keeps your car looking good well beyond its years, but what’s involved? They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but your car’s cleanliness (or otherwise) is the Hubble Telescope’s view into your state of mind.

Do you really want people judging you by the built-up brake-pad dust on your once shiny alloy wheels or the indecipherable rear registration plate under the caked-on road grime of a dozen winters?  

Where to start though, changing the public’s perception of you? How about ... with a car wash? 


Location, location, location 

Check with the local authorities first whether it’s legal to wash your car with a hose. Some municipalities impose year-round water restrictions. Find a place that’s level and wide open, such as the concrete apron in front of a double garage or the visitors parking near your flat. 

If you’re washing the car out in the open, wait for a day or a time when the sun is not blazing down from above. Make sure to apply sunscreen to your exposed skin, even on cloudy days.  


What items do you need? 

Items you should have on stand-by include:  

  • a hose with an adjustable-spray nozzle 
  • a sponge 
  • two buckets (one for the detergent, the other to rinse the suds off the sponge) 
  • a pre-soak solution 
  • a dedicated car-wash detergent such as you can purchase from any aftermarket accessories store 
  • a soft-bristle brush to clean the wheels  
  • a spray-on solvent specifically formulated to loosen and remove brake pad dust 
  • a spray-on tyre shine if you’re serious 
  • a chamois if you can lay hands on one, or an auto towel to dry the vehicle 
  • a bottle of wax to protect the paint 
  • a clean, dry micro-fibre cloth to apply the wax 


A household cleaning cloth – one of the type that’s a washable and re-usable cloth that can be tossed in the bin after a few uses – is useful for cleaning alloy wheels. Folding one of these over and using your index finger you can clean right up inside hard-to-reach nooks where the wheel spokes meet the rim, or around the wheel fasteners and hub.  


The method 

Some vehicle owners will prefer to clean the alloy wheels first (see above), while others prefer to leave them for last. If you can manage to clean the wheels without slopping any wheel cleaner on the car’s bodywork, leave the wheels until last.  

As a general rule, you should hose off any large lumps of clay or other detritus clinging to the car’s body first. You should also use a pre-clean solvent to remove insects, tree sap and tar that stubbornly refuse to come off with a spray from the hose.  

Mix the detergent in a bucket of water, in accordance with the directions on the bottle. Use the sponge to apply the detergent/water mix and gently rub until any remaining dirt is removed. Once the car has been thoroughly cleaned and the dirt has been loosened, you can rinse it off, using a hose or bucket of clean water. Rinse from the highest point to the lowest so gravity will carry away the suds and dirt.  

Use a chamois or auto towel to wipe away the remaining water droplets on the body work and finish off by applying the wax.  


Hey presto, job done.  



Related articles: 

Helpful car care and maintenance tips 
How often should I service my car

Any information on this page is provided as a guide only. It is not professional or expert advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The content may not be appropriate, correct or sufficient for your circumstances and should not be relied on as the only reason you do or don’t do anything.
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