How to wash your car like a pro

July 21, 2019 11:23 am | Peter Warren

Washing a car – how hard can it really be? Sure, a blast with the hose and a quick interior vacuum can make a car look a lot cleaner in a short amount of time. But what if you want to do it properly – pull out all the stops and get your used car looking just like new again? It's not as difficult as you might think, as long as you know what you're doing.

Here's our guide to washing your car like a professional.

Gather your equipment

You're going to need a few tools and materials to get your car looking jazzy. For the interior you'll need:

  • Some non-abrasive cloths,
  • Cleaning products designed for the materials inside (vinyl, plastic, leather etc),
  • A vacuum cleaner,
  • Some small brushes for getting dust out of hard-to-reach places like vents.

For the exterior, find yourself:

  • A dedicated car-wash detergent or wash-and-wax that protects and cleans the paint,
  • A bucket,
  • A sponge or non-abrasive mit,
  • A hose.

It's vital you don't use harsh household cleaners such as soap or dishwashing liquid. Doing so is like using bleach to wash your face; it's too harsh, and it risks stripping the paint of its protective wax layer. That said, depending on how dirty your car is, you might need something tougher to get heavy dirt out of the wheel wells, rims and off the lower body. Make sure the product you choose won't damage the surfaces of your vehicle – some wheels have paint or clear coatings that can be harmed by the wrong products, so to be safe, choose something labelled safe for all wheel types.

Another handy tool that makes things easier is a pistol-grip nozzle for your hose. Not only does it make controlling and directing the water flow simple, it lets you stop it quickly too, saving you turning the tap on and off, minimising water waste.

Man washing wheel of car with sponge.
Washing your car like a pro is easy if you know what you're doing.

Start with the interior

It's best practice to start by cleaning the interior – that way you can avoid the potentially dangerous cocktail of a water and electricity when vacuuming. 

Start by cleaning any surfaces like the dash and centre console. Use an appropriate product for each surface as different cleaning solutions can affect how the finish of each looks when the product dries. Whatever you do, don't vacuum first – in cleaning the surfaces you'll be climbing all over the car, potentially spreading dirt around, so vacuuming should be the last step you should do.

When you do finally vacuum, remove the floor carpets and give them a good shake too. This can get a lot of the dirt out that otherwise would stay put.

Cleaning the exterior

Start by giving the vehicle a good hose down. Take this first rinse as a chance to blast loose dirt out of the wheel arches, as well as removing any light dirt from the paintwork.

Once the vehicle is nice and soaked, you can start with your sponge and detergent. Clean in lines along the bodywork, not in circles, which can leave behind circular micro-scratches in the paint. It's also a good idea to rinse your sponge with clean water after each pass over the car – that way you minimise tainting your detergent bucket and re-covering the vehicle with the dirt you just removed.

For the best-looking paint job, a polish or wax product can really make the finish shine. Not only does it look great, it protects the paint too, so you may find you're able to go longer between cleanings.

To enquire about a vehicle or learn more about our range, get in touch with the Peter Warren Automotive team today.