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How to wash a car like an expert

  • Car Wash
  • Renee Martin
  • 11 minutes

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Showroom shine is like the golden snitch in the Harry Potter series (full disclosure: fan of the books). It’s elusive, and even if you do catch it, it tends to slip away from hour hands too fast! Similarly, many car owners visit different car washes to maintain or get back the showroom shine, and only some are successful.

What if you could get that magical shine at your home? Yes, it’s possible. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about washing your car at home in this post. Keep reading to know more.   

How to wash your car like an expert

Gather your equipment  

Washing your car at home is never an easy task. You need to have the right equipment and should be familiar with car wash techniques. Make sure all the equipment you need is near you and is placed where you can reach them. Here’s a list of equipment you need for a perfect car wash. Remember this is not an exhaustive list:   

  • Two buckets   
  • Water hose  
  • Long brush (for tires)  
  • Wash mitts  
  • Car washing liquid/ automotive soap   
  • Microfiber towels  
  • Clay bar  
  • Car wax  


Pre-wash your car  

Begin your car cleaning process by pre-washing your vehicle. You can cause scratches on your car’s paint if you straight away try to rub the dirt off the dry car. Use a foam cannon or water to give your car a pre-wash. A thorough pre-wash will help remove the light dirt stuck onto the car’s body and loosen up the tough dirt – this will make your cleaning process much easier.   

Start from your wheels  

Wheels and tires are often the dirtiest part of the car and always wash them first. The possibility of splashing the dirt from the wheels onto the car’s body is pretty high if you clean them at last. That’s why we recommend beginning the self car wash process from your wheels. Use a high-pressure washer or spray nozzle on your hose to remove loose dirt, mud, and debris.

Next, apply the tire cleaner – don’t use the regular car wash cleaner – scrub the tires thoroughly using a brush. After you are done with the tires, apply the car wash shampoo or soap and scrub to remove dirt stuck on the wheels. Finally, using water rinse the wheels and tires and dry them using a microfiber towel.   

Start from your wheels

Read: Pro car wash tips for car interior cleaning

Clean your car’s exterior  

The two-bucket method:  

To clean your car’s exterior, use two buckets of water. Fill one bucket with car wash soap solution and the other bucket to collect the dirty water and rinse your mitt. We’d recommend you split the car into different sections in your mind and work on one at a time to avoid water spots. First, dip the mitt into the bucket containing the soap solution, and clean your car using the soap-filled mitt.

Once you’re done cleaning a particular section or notice the mitt getting dirty, dunk it in the second bucket to rinse or wring it out. Also, begin cleaning your car from the top and work your way downwards.   

Water-less car wash method:   

The water-less car wash method is a great option for people living in places with an acute water shortage or if you want to get your car cleaned with the minimum usage of water. Here are the steps for a perfect water-less car wash:   

  • Pre-wash your car to remove any deeply embedded dirt.  
  • Next, mentally divide the car into different sections. This can make your washing process simple and hassle-free.  
  • Now spray the water-less car wash product onto the section and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.  
  • Using a microfiber towel, wipe gently in only one direction. Remember not to push too much pressure while you’re wiping, and don’t go in circles.   
  • Change the microfiber towel if you notice too much dirt on it. 
  • Repeat the same process on all the sections of the car.   
  • Remember to use different microfiber towels for each section to avoid contamination.  

The water-less car wash method is recommended for cars that have light dirt on them. If your car is loaded with heavy dust and dirt, we suggest using a manual car wash or visiting an automatic car wash near you.   

Read: All you need to know about water-less car washes

Rinse-less car wash:   

The rinse-less car wash is considered as the combo of both the hand car wash and the water-less car wash method. Car owners can simply wipe off the wash solution after applying it instead of rinsing the car again. If you’re looking for a quick, eco-friendly, and scratch-free car wash experience, then a rinse-less car wash is your best bet. Here are the steps you need to follow in a rinse-less car wash:   

  • If you see noticeable dirt stuck on your car’s body, pre-wash your car with water to loosen them.  
  • Now use the two-bucket method to clean your car. However, instead of filling a bucket with a car wash solution, fill it with a rinse-less car wash solution.   
  • Also, fill a spray bottle with the rinse-less car wash solution.  
  • After pre-washing your vehicle, spray the rinse-less car wash solution onto the section you’re planning to clean. We recommend you follow the same method of dividing the car during the cleaning process.   
  • Next, dunk your wash mitt into the rinse-less car wash solution bucket and clean the section.   
  • When you’re satisfied, use another microfiber towel to dry the panel. You can repeat these steps to clean all the panels.  

Drying your car  

Use microfiber towels:   

Do you still use squeegees, old clothes, and rags to wipe the water off your car after cleaning it? Firstly, the items mentioned above cannot remove the water effectively from your vehicle’s body, which can cause water spots on your car. Secondly, these items can cause hundreds of micro-scratches on your car’s paint and can damage your vehicle’s clear coat over time! All car wash experts recommend drying your car using microfiber towels.

The microfiber towels have the quality to can absorb large amounts of water and are non-abrasive too. Using the microfiber towel, you can remove the excess water from your car without causing any damage.   

Use a blower:   

Sometimes microfiber towels cannot reach the nooks and crannies of a car – this is where a blower can come in handy. You can use a leaf blower or a car blower to get the job done to perfection. Also, this is one of the safest methods to dry your car since no equipment comes in contact with your car. The chances for scratches being caused is none.  

Read: 5 fall car care tips to keep your vehicle in great shape

Use a clay bar  

Car detailing experts recommend a clay bar treatment after washing and drying your car to make it look glossy. We recommend buying the clay bar kit in any detailing store if you’ve never tried the clay bar treatment. The kit will contain clay bars, microfiber towels, and detailer spray or lubricants. Here are the steps you need to follow in a clay bar treatment:   

  • After washing and drying your car, spray the lubricant or detailer spray onto a small section in the car.  
  • Cut the clay bar into 3 to 4 pieces. Use one piece and gently glide it on the section of the car where you have sprayed the lubricant. Remember to glide the clay bar in a back-and-forth and not in a circular motion.   
  • You can now repeat this process on other sections of the vehicle.   
  • Check the state of the clay. If you notice any dirt on the clay, switch to a fresh side or use a new one.   
  • After you’re done claying a section, use a microfiber towel to wipe it. If you find any residual clay remove it using the lubricant.   

Wax your car

Wax your car  

A perfect car waxing can give your car a noticeable showroom shine. The car waxing process is difficult and needs to be performed with utmost care. What’s more, car waxing not just makes your car look shiny, it can also serve as a protective layer for your vehicle’s clear coat. If you find it difficult, you can always visit an auto detailing center near you.   

  • After you’re done with car washing, drying, and clay bar treatment, move to the car waxing process. This is to make sure that there are no contaminants stuck on your car’s exterior while you’re waxing it.   
  • Remember, the waxing process differs based on the wax type and brand that you use. Before you begin the waxing process, read the instructions in the product description or the ‘how to use’ section.  
  • Now split your vehicle into multiple sections and work on one section at a time.         
  • Next, apply the wax to the foam applicator and start waxing.  
  • Use small amounts of the product while applying. Also, gently apply the wax in a circular motion onto the section you’re working on. Don’t exert too much force.  
  • Use a microfiber towel to buff and remove the wax before it dries out.   
  • If you’re using a spray wax, spraying the product onto the section.   
  • Next, rub in the wax using a microfiber towel. Buff it up.  
  • Keep repeating the process till you notice a shine and you’re happy with the results.  

Top tip: Never pour the liquid wax and polish directly onto the surface of the car. It can cause uneven dark streaks on your car’s finish and damage its color.   

Read: All you need to know about car wax

How to wash your car – Do’s and don’ts  


  • Wash your car once a week to maintain it properly.  
  • Always follow a Z-pattern or move in a straight line while you’re cleaning or drying your car. By following a circular motion, you can cause swirl marks on your car’s body.  
  • For a hassle-free car wash, pick the right hose. Choose a hose that lets you move around the car without any trouble. You can also use a nozzle with multiple spray settings to control the water speed and pressure.  
  • Before washing your car, remember to roll up your windows, bend the retractable antennas and pull your windshield wipers.   


  • Using a sponge to clean your car is never a great idea. Sponges are abrasive in nature – even the new ones – and can cause micro-scratches on your car’s paint. Also, dirt can get trapped in the sponge’s pores and, when rubbed on the car, can cause damage to the paint. We recommend you use car specific wash mitt or microfiber towels to clean your vehicle.   
  • Don’t wash or detail your car on a sunny day. The hot weather can speed up the cleaning and drying process and cause water spots in your car. Remember to wash your car on a cool day or under shade.   
  • Remember not to wash your car under a tree or near a dusty road. It defeats the whole purpose!  
  • Some car owners, after a wash, tend to park their car under the sun to dry it – we absolutely don’t recommend this. Dry your car using microfiber towels as soon as you’re done washing them.   
  • After the washing process, if you notice a missed spot, don’t try to wipe it with a dry towel. By doing so, you can cause scratches. Instead, wash and dry the missed spot.   
  • Avoid over waxing. Extra waxing will not give your car an added shine. Just two coats of wax – one for the foundation and another as a backup – can make your car look shiny.    

How to book a car wash easily

We know washing your car at home can sometimes get complicated and time-consuming. You can use websites and apps like Way.com to find the top-rated and affordable automatic car washes near you. The car wash booking process on the Way.com app is very simple: 

  1. Open the app and type in your location. 
  2. Select from the list of car washes. 
  3. Pay and confirm your booking. 

Download the Way.com app to find the best car wash near you.   

car wash at $19.95

Read our blogs for information on the best airport parking and hourly parking spots near you and the most affordable insurance for your car.

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