The RIGHT way to wash your car

11Yep, there is indeed a right way to wash your car.  It’s more than about looks, it’s critical to maintaining your car’s paint job.

Did you know that most vehicles today undergo a multi-layer paint process? The procedure starts with a pretreatment that protects against corrosion and ends with a clearcoat that aids in reducing chips and scratches. So, you’ll want to protect and maintain its long-term durability by washing your vehicle the right way.


  • Before you get to the washing part, ensure that the vehicle is fully wet – and kept that way. You want to be able to float the dirt off the surface
  • Use soap specially formulated for cars. In other words, not dishwashing soap, no matter how mild, as it can strip the wax protection and potentially cause waterspotting
  • A sponge or wool mitt kept wet and sudsy will mean you won’t have to rub or scrub the surface •Start the wash at the top, then move to the sides, finishing up at the bottom (all the grit accumulates there)
  • To dry the vehicle, use a water blade or soft towel
  • Wax will help keep the surface protected
  • Clean wiper blades with rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol


  • car-interior-cleaning1It’s tempting to use your sleeve to wipe off the instrument panel, but a clean, damp white cotton cloth is more effective on the panel as well as the interior trim areas and cluster lens. Use another clean but dry white cotton cloth for drying. Glass or household cleaners? Don’t do it
  • For dust and loose dirt on the fabric, carpets, cloth seats and safety belts, use a vacuum. For light stains, use an auto-specific carpet and upholstery cleaner. For tar or grease, spot-clean first with an auto-specific spot and stain remover
  • Do you have leather seats? For routine cleaning, wipe the surface with a soft, damp cloth. When it’s deep cleaning we’re talking about, wipe the surface with a mild soap-and-water solution, and dry with a soft cloth. You can also use products designed for cleaning leather auto interiors


  • Brake dust is a real nuisance in this department. You can use wheel and tire cleaner, although the brake dust and heavy dirt might require a little elbow grease with a sponge. Rinse thoroughly with a strong stream of water
  • Never apply any cleaning chemical to hot or warm wheel rims or covers


  • We know of someone who used a power washer under their hood; $700 later, things were running right again. Morale of the story? Be careful; high-pressure fluid could penetrate sealed parts and cause damage
  • Don’t spray a hot engine with cold water, as it could crack the engine block or other engine components
  • When cleaning, use a specially formulated engine shampoo and de-greaser
  • Make sure you cover the battery and filters when cleaning (refer to the owner’s manual)
  • Never wash or rinse the engine while it’s hot or running; water in a running engine could cause internal damage
  • Another never: Never wash or rinse the ignition coil, spark plug wires, spark plug well or the areas in and around those locations


  • Don’t wash your vehicle if it’s hot to the touch or exposed to strong, direct sunlight •If you’re dealing with bird droppings, bugs, suntan lotion or insect repellent, use car-wash soap and water as soon as you can
  • Tree sap and tar can be cleaned off with a bug or tar remover (use a high-equality one). Wax afterward
  • If you wipe down your windshield with a tumble dryer sheet, bugs won’t stick to the glass as easily, and you can use cooking spray on the bumpers for the same purpose. To remove a sticker from the window, saturate it in cooking oil before you start scrubbing

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