on 18, Dec 2018

How to Wash a Car: The DIY Solution for Car Wash

It is a well-known fact that the car you drive reflects your personality, same goes with the condition and cleanliness of the car which depicts some traits of your character and how you take care of things. Washing a car and keeping it clean is not an arduous task as many believe.

Are you aware of the various methods that will help you wash your car? Here is a detailed DIY guide dedicated to the same.

Let’s start with the basics and accept the fact that everyone might not be a pro at washing their car.

Wash-cloth-or-MittA normal car wash includes the process of cleaning your car’s windows, body, wheels and interiors. Anything more than that and taking more time can be termed as Detailing.

How often should you wash your car?

Most experts recommend wash every two weeks, but you should wash your car once it gets noticeable dirty as dirt or bird droppings if left for a long time might be hard to remove and might even damage the paintwork.

Before you delve into the process, make sure you have all the supplies:

  • Car-specific washing shampoo

Get hold of a good car shampoo, you don’t want to damage your car’s paintwork using a normal shampoo or a soap as it dries out the paintwork and makes it rough.


  • Buckets

Two-buckets are the most preferred setup, but more buckets won’t hurt, just make sure you use at the least each bucket for rinsing and shampooing. If a pressure washer is being used, then maybe one bucket full of water may even suffice.

  • Washcloth or Mitt

A microfiber cloth is one of the best things has happened in recent times. It consists of a synthetic blend of cloth mixtures which traps the dust between the surface and makes cleaning effortless. Two sets of microfiber cloth along with a spare cloth or brush for the wheels will do.

  • Vacuum cleaner

Use a vacuum cleaner for the interiors and then finally wipe the dashboard and door pads using a microfiber cloth. One can also use an interior polish of suitable type for cleaning the dashboard. Take extra care when treating the leather surface and buy products which are suitable for application on leather.

How long will a car wash take?

It usually takes from 30 minutes to an hour, varying upon the current condition and size of your car. This time is also inclusive of the rinsing, drying and shampooing. Washing involves various steps which can be broken down into the following:

  1. Pre-Rinsing

Pre-Rinsing Pre-Rinsing is the first and foremost process involved in a car wash. Rinsing is the process of spraying water onto your car’s body to make it wet and therefore preparing it for the next stage, that is shampooing. Rinsing is of utmost importance as rinsing helps to soak the dirt and dust in the car’s bodywork and glasses which makes it easy to remove them without scratching the paintwork.  

If you have a pressure washer or can afford one, you should definitely use it as the pressure washer removes the dust and grime to a substantial level than the normal hose or bucket setup and it even uses half the water quantity also. It is also very much preferred to use a two-bucket washing system where one bucket is used to fill normal water for rinsing and drying purpose while the other bucket serves as the shampoo bucket. The same applies to the washing clothes, one should be solely used for drying while the other for applying the shampoo. Also, don’t forget to use a third one or a sponge for the wheels and tires.

  1. Washing

Washing There are different kinds of solutions and shampoos dedicated for washing your car that is available in the market. Find a good one and your all set to go. You won’t go wrong with some of the brands like 3M, Sonax, F1. etc.  Saturate your wash mitt or cloth in the shampoo solution and sweep the cloth gently without applying much pressure from side to side to remove the dirt.

Even if you find hard grime, don’t increase the pressure but instead, take more time to erase it. More pressure will ultimately lead to swirl marks which will only surface once the bodywork is dried off.  Continue washing the car in a similar way but leave all the dirtiest parts like the lower part of the body and wheel arches for the last and by doing so you will less contaminate the shampoo solution that you are using.

3. Drying

Drying This is the last but the important and overlooked stage when washing a car. A car which is not dried properly after a wash will leave watermarks and other blemishes on the surface. Watermarks are caused by minerals in the water and these will dry out and leave marks which might be difficult to remove depending on the time and composition of the mark.

After shampooing and rinsing the car, one should properly wipe off all the excess water from the body parts using a cloth, preferably a micro-fibre cloth. Start from the windows and the hood and work your way over the entire car but don’t forget to frequently wash the drying cloth in the second bucket of fresh water that we mentioned earlier. This will clean the cloth and make it free of any dirt and dust that will lead to swirls. Last but not least, using another cloth wipe off the water from the rims/alloys and let the car dry out in warm conditions and not under direct sunlight.

These are the normal steps involved in washing a car and this will vary for different occasions. If the interiors are to be cleaned, then time must be spared for cleaning the interiors after or before you wash the car. For the Interiors, take out the floor mats, wash them and vacuum the floors and interiors using a vacuum cleaner. Clean or polish the dashboard or door pads if necessary using a cleaner and an interior polish.

The top 5 most important car wash tips to keep in mind are:

  1. Use less water while washing your car; two buckets of water is recommended which can be even less if a Pressure Washer is used.

  2. Use damp towels to dry the car. Yes, the cloth that is used to dry the car should be damp and not completely dry because damp cloth decreases the friction by making the whole process smooth and will also lead to less swirl marks.

  3. It is ideal to wash the wheels first as by doing so, no dirt or grime from the wheels will splash on to the body work later.

  4. Never forget to clean the windows inside out, windows should also be wiped from the inside using a damp cloth, especially the windshield.

  5. Never use any soaps or detergents or any solutions of that kind to wash your car as it slowly destroys your car’s paintwork.

Pressure Washers:

Pressure-WashersThe Pressure washer is an ideal device for washing a car which can be also used to save some water during the whole process. Pressure washers are available in the market in various iterations. Electric pressure car washing machines are the most popular ones are available from brands like Bosch, Black and Decker, Karcher, etc. The power output should be looked out for while buying a pressure washer as heavy duty high pressure output washer are not advisable for cars.

Pressure washer prices in India start from around 5000 INR leading all the way up to more than 15,000 INR. Once you have used a pressure washer you will understand the cleaning effect of these machines which will make the whole washing process effortless and efficient. Using a pressure washer will also help you save time and water while the only downside is the consumption of electricity. But, having a pressure washer can also decrease the visit needed to a professional service centre.

These are some tips to look out for before buying a pressure washer:

Motor –  Buy a pressure washer from a reputed brand which specifies the output suitable for cars.

Price –  Good ones are priced between 7000 INR to 13,000 INR.

Features –  Most of the pressure washers come with additional fittings and some may or may not come with a foam lance/gun.

Size – Get a medium sized unit or carrying it around would be a hassle.

Warranty –   Don’t skip this part as electricity and water isn’t the best pair.

If your car is dirty and beyond your hands, then a professional car-care or car wash centre will be of help. Taking your car to a professional wash centre once in a month is also good as it would help clean underside and other parts that are inaccessible to access without a lift.

Engine bay cleaning is a debatable topic as some prefer their engine bay clean while others don’t. The cleanliness of your engine bay won’t affect the performance or working of your working but clean it once every six months or once in a year. Most modern cars today come with a huge chunk of electrical components which are situated all around the engine bay.

So, cleaning an engine bay should be done at your own risk. Leaving this duty to your car’s authorized brand service centre or a professional detailer is the most ideal and safe way to clean the engine bay.

If you really want to clean it yourself then, read this  article for more information about it:

Here's How to Clean Your Dirty-Ass Engine Bay Without Screwing It Up

At the end of the day, a car, even though is a machine that takes you from point A to B, is something you should take good care of. A clean car reflects your personality and how good you take care of things in life. A well-maintained car will also help you fetch a good amount when it’s time to swap, while a poorly maintained one will have fewer takers and thus will suffer from poor resale value.

Engine-bay-cleaningThat must not be the sole reason for cleaning your car; one spends a considerable amount of time in his/her car today than before, it has become a vital part of our daily lives and showing some love for these machines which takes us to places safely and comfortably without letting us down is nothing but a good gesture and one that should be done often.

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