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It’s important to take good care of your car. After all, their appearance is a reflection of ourselves, and we want to impress people.
As a result, you will often see people spending their Sunday afternoons washing their cars and getting them back to that shiny new appearance. Of course, doing it right isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem, and it isn’t a one bucket and sponge job.
Without knowing the correct steps to take when washing your car, you could end up causing damage. I’ve put this nifty how-to guide together so that you can follow the right steps to a brand new looking car.
What You Will Need
- Pressure washer
- Car-wash soap
- Two or three buckets
- Drying towel
- Glass cleaner
- Wheel cleaner
- Scrubbing Brush
- Car wax
- Applicator towel
- Buffing towel
- Vacuum cleaner, car upholstery attachment
- Interior cleaner
The Step by Step
Step One: Washing the Exterior I
Your car should be given a quick once over regularly, and not necessarily via a drive through car wash as these can cause fine scratches on your vehicle. Instead, you should try and do it yourself, it doesn’t take too long, and the results are great.
Grab your two (or three) buckets and fill one with water, and the other with a water and car-wash soap solution. This way you will have a wash and rinse bucket. Take the sponge and dip it into the soapy mix and then gently rub away the dirt and grime from your car.
Use the water filled bucket and a separate sponge to rinse the solution off. This should get rid of most of the bulk grime, but don’t worry if some areas are not fully cleaned – the next step will take care of that.
Step Two: Washing the Exterior II
Take the pressure washer out and read the manual carefully to make sure you are using the right setting and attachments for your car.
After putting it on the correct setting, use it over the whole of your car freely for a good rinse. For the particularly stubborn areas, you can use a car-wash soap solution in the detergent section of your pressure washer.
Focusing on these areas while using the detergent will help to get rid of those grimy areas. After using the soapy solution, you can use the pressure washer to rinse the car once more. A wide spray tends to leave fewer water spots and also decreases drying time.
Step Three: Washing the Wheels
Take the scrubbing brush and use it to loosen the dirt in the tyre gaps. No doubt there will be quite a lot to loosen as our cars pick up a lot of dirt every day.
Once you have done this, take the pressure washer and place it on the correct setting for your wheels (this tends to vary between models).
You can then focus the spray and remove all of the loosened dirt from the tyre gaps, as well as leaving your hubcaps looking new. If you find there is still dirt in the tyre gaps after this, simply repeat the process. Sometimes, a toothbrush can get into the grooves better than a scrubbing brush.
Step Four: Drying the Exterior
Take the drying towel (preferably a microfiber one) and gently pass it over the surface of the car, allowing it to soak up the moisture.
Some people like to use two towels – one for passing over and wringing the water out of, and the other to do a final once over to ensure it is totally dry. Once this is done, you can move onto the next step.
Step Five: A Wax and Polish
Now that the exterior of the car is washed and dry, you can grab some wax or sealant to protect the paint job on the car. Make sure the car is cool to touch before you apply it.
Otherwise, it can solidify, and only use pads that are not abrasive. Liquid wax is the easiest to apply to your car.
It is easiest to wax one area of the car at a time. Take the applicator pad and spread a thin layer of wax into the paint using circular motions. Let the wax dry for a few minutes, and then you can use the buffing cloth to buff it out.
This will give it a fantastic shine. It is strongly recommended that you wax and polish every couple of months to ensure maximum protection for your paint job.
Step Six: Cleaning the Interior
The first thing to do is grab your vacuum cleaner (as well as the relevant attachments) and give your car a good once over.
Take the floor mats out and vacuum them outside of your car, and use the upholstery tools that come with your machine to give your seats a deep clean.
You can also use the tools to get right into the crevices in the back seats, as well as the boot. With a good vacuum cleaner, no space will be left dirty.
If the carpet in your car is in a real state, you can also invest in a shampooer that will scrub your carpets clean with detergent. This is particularly handy if you have stubborn stains.
TOP TIP! Vacuum the ducts regularly for that new car smell.
Step Seven: Glass
The glass of your car is important to remember. After all, it is easy for it to become dirty and fogged up over time. Use a good quality glass cleaner and spray it on the inside and outside of your car windows/windscreen.
Then, simply wipe it with a cleaning cloth for a sparkling and clear result. You can even use it on the wing mirrors and your headlight casing. Your ability to see is vital when driving, so make sure you pay close attention to it.
Step Eight: Leather
This is an optional step as not everyone has leather in their car. Most of the leather used today has a thin layer of vinyl covering it for added protection and longevity, and this is important to remember as it means that leather conditioner is not as important on seats such as these.
Check to see if they are vinyl layered or unprotected before you use leather cleaning products on them. Make sure you don’t let dirt build up on your leather seats, and use leather cleaner on it at least four times per year. Regular vacuuming will help remove the dirt and prevent discolouring.
Taking care of your car is important, and knowing how to do it right is important if you want to avoid damage. That is why I put this guide together, so that everyone can follow the basic steps to getting a car that looks so clean it’s practically brand new.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this nifty little guide, and you find it useful on your next cleaning day. We love hearing from you, so let us know how you got on in the comments.
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.