The average car on the road today will last 11 years. That number is already up from just 8 years in 1995, which means that it’s likely to increase in the future.
But just because your car will keep running for 11 years or more doesn’t mean that it’s guaranteed to look great while doing it.
You could rely on expensive professional help a few times a year to spruce up and protect the exterior of your vehicle. Unfortunately, that adds up to a lot of money spent on cleanings, not to mention the inconvenience of regular visits to a body shop.
If you want to keep your car looking as great as the day you drove it off the lot for as long as possible, you need to learn how to wash a car like a pro right from your home. Keep reading for 7 tips to get you started.
1. Skip the Dish Soap :
If you’re like many casual car owners, you might think that the exterior of your Washing Your Car is tough. After all, it weathers wind, rain, the road, and more.
But tough or not, your vehicle is no match for common household cleaning products like dish soap, glass cleaner, or even gentle hand soap.
It isn’t actually your car that can’t handle it, but the protective wax that is applied to your paint to keep it from chipping, peeling, or fading. These cleaners may strip the wax, leaving your paint unprotected.
Instead, you should always use a cleaning detergent designed for cars. Check the label of your cleaner to make sure that you know exactly what part of your vehicle it is designed to clean.
For instance, using a detergent designed for cleaning chrome wheels on aluminum rims could damage them.
2. Choose the Right Tools :
Besides the right detergent, there are a few other tools you’ll need if you want to wash your car like a pro.
Your normal household towels or sponges aren’t the best tools for scrubbing the exterior of your vehicle.
A wash mitt or car wash sponge are designed to help you wash away grime without scratching your car or damaging the protective wax layer. Use a separate sponge for the body of your car and the wheels.
If your sponge or mitt hits the ground while you’re cleaning, think twice before you pick it up and start scrubbing again. Using a mitt or sponge that has particles of dirt or grime on it can cause scratches on your vehicle.
The right tools aren’t just necessary for washing your car; you’ll also want the right ones for drying it once you’re done.
While a quick spin around the block or a couple hours in the sun might sound like a good way to dry your car, this will leave watermarks on your paint, which defeats the purpose of even washing your car.
Instead, a chamois or soft terry towel and some gentle hand-drying is the best way to dry a car.
Other useful tools are a soft rubber squeegee for getting rid of excess water and a car wash hose for reaching every inch of your vehicle.
3. Not All Car Exteriors are Created Equal :
The age and condition of your vehicle have an effect on the type of cleaning you may need to do.
For instance, if you recently bought a brand new car, odds are that the wax applied in the factory is still strong enough to protect your paint. You may only need a gentle cleaning to keep your car looking great.
But an older car that hasn’t been well maintained needs a little more care. A fresh coat of wax and a polish can help make even an old paint job look as good as new.
If your car has any exterior damage or the paint is beginning to bubble or peel, think twice before you decide to DIY your car wash. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could cause additional damage to your vehicle.
Instead, check out this page to see how a pro can help get your car back to looking great after dents, paint chips, or other damage.
4. Polish for Shine :
Simply washing and drying your car won’t give you that professionally detailed look.
Once you’ve finished those first two steps, it’s time to polish. While this step isn’t necessary every time you wash your car, if you really want it to shine, this is a must.
You’ll need a good conditioning oil, and can either apply it by hand or with a dual-action polisher to get the job done faster and get a more even shine.
5. Wax to Protect Your Paint :
If you choose to polish your vehicle, you’ll want to wax it to, or else your shine won’t last for long.
Wax provides a protective coating for your vehicle that can help keep your paint looking fresh and shiny long after you drive off the car lot.
Car wax helps rain and water slide off your vehicle without leaving spots. It can prevent light scratches. It even helps prevent fading caused by harsh UV rays.
6. Wash Your Windows Better :
Windex might seem like the perfect solution for cleaning your car windows. But while it may be ideal for the windows on your home, your car windows are tinted, and the ammonia in household glass cleaners can damage that tint.
Instead, choose a dedicated auto window cleaner. When you spray it on, be sure to wipe it off twice so that you don’t leave any residue behind.
7. When You Wash Matters :
You already know that choosing the right materials and taking your cleaning to the next level with a polish and wax are important for achieving that professional look. But before you rush outside to get started, there’s one more pro tip you need to know.
When and where you wash matters.
For instance, washing your car in direct, hot sunlight is a big mistake. So is washing it right after you’ve driven it, while it’s still hot. Either situation will speed up the rate at which the soap and water dry, which will cause water spots.
How to Wash a Car Like a Pro :
If you want to learn how to wash a car like a pro, these 7 tips are a great start.
But your car isn’t the only thing you’ve been washing wrong.
If you have any four-legged friends at home, check out these tips for keeping their coats and skin healthy and clean.
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