It's a feat that can rarely be accomplished at your local automatic car wash with its imprecise, flexible brushes and single-spray approach for most. Even DIY cleaning bays can do more harm than good, as brushes often accumulate debris that can scratch the surface of your vehicle. Pulling out the hose and a few buckets in the driveway allows you to take your time and focus on the dirtiest parts of your vehicle.
Taking the DIY approach also allows you to clean your car safely without damaging the paint. Here are 12 easy steps to help you wash your car like a pro in your driveway.
Assess the condition of your vehicle
This seems like a no-brainer, but it is a crucial step. Determine how dirty your car is before removing hoses, buckets, cleaning supplies, and towels. Is there caked mud on the rocker panels? Is the car covered in fine dust? Should you remove the salt after driving on icy roads?
You may not need an entire arsenal of products for a quick touch-up wash. Look at the car itself. An older car may need a full cleaning regimen with clays, waxes, and polishes to protect the paint, while a new car may have a robust clear coat still intact.
Read the label
Before applying anything to your vehicle, read the labels of the products you plan to use. Not all car cleaning products are all-purpose. The wrong product could even damage paint, clear coat, or other finishes inside and out. If you are in doubt about what your car's components are made of, always choose the gentlest cleaning products you can find.
Reading the instructions will help you save time and money and ensure that you are using the correct amount of product for the task at hand.
The three cube system
The goal of a good deep cleaning is to remove contaminants from the vehicle's surface. The last thing you want to do is wash the car with dirty water to give that dirt back.
That's where the three-bucket cleaning system comes in. It has a bucket filled with clean soapy water and another bucket with just water. The water-only bucket is designed to rinse the cleaning glove before dipping it back into the soapy bucket. The third bucket should include a mixture of cleaning products and water that is only used for the wheels, as these are usually the dirtiest parts of your car.
Before you start cleaning anything, keep the car out of direct sunlight if you can. This ensures less water and cleaning products evaporate while you work.
Wash the wheels
Let's tackle the grossest part of the car first: the wheels. For now, just use the wheel hub, not the water hub you'll use for the rest of the car.
Make sure you don't put your cleaning products on the tires. The tires could spray the product on the paint when you drive the car afterward. Skip the tire coating which also makes your sidewalls look darker and brighter. It is as slippery as it is shiny and can negatively affect the tires' ability to grip the road. Spray your wheels with water to rinse off any cleaner when you're done. Remember to use a separate hose or bottle for this than the bucket for the rest of the car.
Wash those headlights
Plastic headlights turn cloudy and yellow over time, making them less effective on the road. Dirty headlights can ruin the appearance of an otherwise clean car, so this is the perfect time to fix that.
Headlight Restoration Kits are easy to find and many include a UV blocking component to protect your now clear headlights from further sun damage. Take care of this now, as you will need to use masking tape to cover the other surfaces around your headlights. Clean your headlights with your cleaning solution and wipe them with a damp cloth when you're done. If there is a protective finish on your kit, apply it now.
Wash your car
Now to the most obvious part of your DIY cleaning adventure: washing your car body. This removes loose contaminants like dust, dirt, and mud.
First, rinse the car with water to remove the largest particles of dirt. Then add soapy water from your bucket to the outside. Make sure the soap is designed for Hand Wash Car Wash Maywood cars. Liquid detergents and dish cleaners can remove wax and even damage the paint.
Remember to dry your car with a slightly moistened microfiber towel or chamois before continuing with other steps. Wax doesn't adhere very well to water.