mycar Weekend 9 March 2022

How to wash a car top to bottom


Your car is grubby enough to sketch a whole scene on the back window. Maybe it was some off-road fun over the weekend, perhaps a dust storm snuck up on your vehicle, or it’s simply been building up for a while. Whatever the case may be, it’s time to bust out the soapy water and an oversized sponge and get cleaning! Here’s how to get that dream gleam without the professional price tag.

How to wash your car

Cleaning your car might seem pretty intuitive – get it bubbly, get wiping and hose it down. But there are a few key pointers you’ll want to keep in mind that will cut down your workload and avoid damaging the paint work. Read on to find out what products to use – and what to skip – and the best methods for getting your car squeaky clean.

The body

Your car’s body may seem pretty tough, but when it comes to washing, it needs a gentle touch. The wrong kind of detergent or cleaner can strip the protective coating on the paint, leaving it prone to chips, cracks and eventually, rust. At mycar, we recommend using high-quality car cleaning products for the best results.

Park in the shade

To ensure your efforts aren’t in vain, park your car in the shade and make sure it’s cool to touch before washing. A hot car will dry the suds and dirt on before you have a chance to wash them away. When it’s not too hot, go ahead and hose the whole thing down to soak some of the mud and bug splatter, and prime it for your soap-infused sponge or wash mitt. If you have a pressure hose, use it to blast off some of the gunk.

Plan before you sponge

Resist the urge to just slap that sponge onto the nearest bit of car. Instead, always start at the top and work your way from roof to wheels, so you don’t undo your hard work as you make your way around the car. It also gives the dirtier parts closer to the ground more time to soak. Rinse each part as you go so the bubbles don’t dry on, and dry off with a soft towel or chamois to avoid water marks.

Avoid scratching your car

Debris can stick to your sponge and scratch the paintwork. You can avoid this by scrubbing gently (give those stubborn spots some extra time to soak between attempts) and rinsing your sponge regularly in a separate bucket of water.

Your wheels and tyres

A sponge or wash mitt can only do so much. To get your wheels and tyres sparkling clean, there’s a little more involved. It a good idea to clean the wheels and tyres Be sure the wheels are nice and cold before you start, as heat can vaporise cleaning chemicals. Then follow these steps for a pro clean:

  • You don’t want to use the same cleaning equipment you used for your exterior, so grab a fresh wash mitt or microfibre cloth and a new bucket of water.
  • Hose the wheels and tyres down first to give them a preliminary rinse.
  • Apply a liberal coating of degreaser or wheel cleaner.
  • Using a soft bristled brush, work the cleaner into all the nooks and crannies of the wheels. Use a harder brush to scrub the tyres.
  • Rinse the wheel cleaner off, then use car cleaner to ensure all traces of wheel cleaner are gone.
  • Give the wheels a final rinse and they’re done!

Your windscreen

You’re going to want to save this job for last, after the rest of the car is washed, dried and polished to perfection. This will prevent any water or product splattering onto your freshly cleaned windows.

Take some ammonia-free glass or windscreen cleaner and a clean, dry microfibre cloth. Apply the cleaner directly onto the glass and wipe off in a circular motion with the cloth. To get it shiny and streak-free, keep working the cloth around so you’re always using a dry part – switch out for a new cloth if the whole thing becomes damp. Make sure to pull the wipers out away from the car so you can get the whole windscreen. Once the outside is done, you can give the inside of the windscreen a polish.

The inside

Once the exterior is shiny and clean, it’s time to turn your attention to the interior. First on the list? Taking out the trash. Check under seats and pull out the floor mats to ensure you don’t miss anything. While the mats are out, give them a vacuum and clean them with some upholstery cleaner, then leave them outside to dry while you keep going. With the vacuum handy, work your way through the rest of the car interior, including seats, floors and any hard-to-reach cracks and crevices.

Use car interior cleaner specific to the material inside your car to wipe down the dash and doors, removing dust, grime and any food spillage (don’t forget the cup holders!). Finally, give the seats a clean, pop the floor mats back in and that’s a wrap on bath time for your vehicle.

How often should you wash your car?

Keeping clean is more than just a matter of pride when it comes to cars. To ensure your vehicle exterior stays in top condition, you should aim to give it a wash every two weeks or so. If you regularly drive dirt roads or along coastal areas, this may increase to weekly.

What to wash your car with

With a bit of know-how, you can get your car scrubbed up and looking fabulous in your own front yard. Make sure youonly use products formulated to be used for car cleaning, to minimise the risk of inadvertently causing damage while getting the perfect streak-free finish.

Can you use dishwashing liquid to wash a car?

The short answer is ‘no’. The long answer is that dishwashing liquid is too abrasive for car exteriors and can strip away the wax that protects automotive paint.

Can I use hair shampoo to wash my car?

Similarly to dishwashing liquid, shampoo is not great for the paintwork. and can cause it to fade.

While you take care of the cleaning, let us take care of what's under the hood. Drop into your nearest mycar and set up a servicing schedule today.

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