How to Wash a Car


How To Wash Your Car

You’ve spent your hard-earned money buying your car or truck, now the question arises, “How to best take care of it?” Proper washing is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood areas of auto care, and sadly improper washing damages and dulls your vehicle’s finish over time.


How Not to Wash Your Car

While there are many causes for swirls & scratches, the biggest culprit is improper washing and drying techniques. They can be avoided for the most part once you learn how to properly wash and dry a vehicle, as well as which materials to use. One trip to the automatic car wash (also referred to as swirl-o-matics), or a quick wipe down with the wrong kind of towel can quickly destroy 15 hours of machine polishing. Even if the local car wash or dealership offers a hand-wash, it doesn’t mean that they are using proper methods or materials, and in many cases can do more harm than good.


How do We Wash Your Car

Our procedure recommended at professional auto detailing seminars and our own experience of washing hundreds of cars is as follows:

  1. Close all door and windows tightly
  2. Wash cars that are cool to the touch and not in the sun
  3. Rinse first to get rid of dust and loose surface dirt
  4. Wash & rinse wheels and wheel wells first
  5. Use a detergent designed for washing cars
  6. Wash the car section by section
  7. Wash using a microfiber mitt
  8. Rinse the mitt frequently
  9. Once done washing and rinsing, dry using a soft, lint-free microfiber towel
  10. Dry the car with compressed air to remove all drips and moisture from nooks and crevices
  11. Wipe dry using a soft absorbent microfiber towel


If you wash the car yourself we recommend the following:

  • At least 2 buckets (they’re inexpensive, and stack to save space)
  • At least 2 Grit Guards
  • A Waffle Weave microfiber towel for drying, and a supply of various plush microfiber towels for final buffing.
  • Mild auto washing detergent.
  • Microfiber mitt
  • EZ Detail  cleaning wheels and wheel wells
  • Quick Detailer spray and/or spray wax.
  • Mild degreaser/all-purpose cleaner to help break down heavily soiled areas such as bird droppings, tar, sap, or other stubborn forms of contamination
  • 2 plush microfiber drying towels


General Tips for Washing Your Car:

  1. Avoid washing a vehicle in the hot sun. To avoid water spots and streaking, you want to make sure that the surface of the vehicle is cool to the touch, and preferably in the shade.
  2. Avoid wiping or dusting the exterior with a dry cloth:The tiny particles of dust and grit on the surface can scratch the paint.
  3. Be sure the windows and sunroof are closed before washing.
  4. Wash your wheels first. (Make sure that you have a dedicated bucket and wash media strictly for wheels! Never use your wheel washing materials on painted surfaces)
  5. Use gentle cleansers:Use a commercial car-washing product; never use household chemicals, which can strip the wax and other protective finishes from the paint surface.
  6. Pre-rinse the vehicle to get rid of the surface dust. 
  7. Dip your microfiber mitt into the wash bucket, and then clean one small section at a time using little to no pressure. You’re merely trying to float away dirt and debris from the surface. When washing the horizontal surfaces on top, use a straight arm motion from front to back. Its best to work on 1 section panel, and then thoroughly clean out the wash mitt in the rinse bucket before moving on. After washing each panel section, dip your dirty mitt into the rinse bucket and agitate against the Grit Guard at the bottom of the bucket. This will help to dislodge the dirt and debris from the mitt and keep it at the bottom of the bucket. After rinsing, then dip it back into the wash bucket (agitate against Grit Guard in wash bucket also) to start the process over again. Rinse the vehicle frequently and don’t allow soap to dry on the surface.
  8. To avoid cobwebby scratches, follow the contours of the surface rather than going in circles:Rinse the microfiber mitt often to get rid of grease and dust particles
  9. Always wash the body of a vehicle from the top down.
  10. Remember to get to all the corners where dirt and mold can collect.
  11. Time to dry and shine! After washing vehicle use compressed air to blow off all of the standing water, and water that hides in all of the cracks and crevices. The less you have to touch the vehicle the better. If you don’t have access to compressed air, you can still get it done the old fashioned way by wiping it down or using a clean leaf-blower. Now that you’re ready to dry it off, first take your microfiber towel (lightly spritzed with your instant detailer for added lubrication to prevent marring) and gently drag it across the finish to remove the majority of the water. We use a Waffle Weave microfiber capable of absorbing up to 5 times its weight in water.


Stop by Dangerous Curves Auto Detailing for further information on Ceramic Coatings. 910.769.0503