6 Expert Car Wash Tips

It's a pretty great feeling to roll down the street in a ride that's freshly washed and waxed, with a shine that'll turn heads. Washing and waxing your vehicle does more than just make it look good, though. Getting rid of dust and road grit is great for your finish, and a couple of coats of wax will protect the finish and, ultimately, your vehicle's body. Let's go over a few tips on the best ways to get that shine.

a man washing a car

Source | Advance Auto Parts 

#1 Avoid Washing in Direct Sunlight

Park in the shade to do the washing. It keeps you out of the sun and prevents the sun's heat from drying the vehicle, leaving water marks and spots before you're even finished.

# 2 Don't Rely on Dish Detergent for Your Ride 

Turtle Wax car wash solution

Dishwashing detergent might generate a nice head of suds, but it's designed to cut grease, and that means it'll also effectively strip every bit of wax off your vehicle. Instead, use a car washing solution that's specifically designed for the purpose. They contain additives that lubricate and protect the finish and won't strip wax and polish — instead, they actually add a slight water-repellent finish of their own.

The car washing solution is also formulated to dry spot-free, which saves you some headaches when it's time to apply wax.

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#3  Use Three Separate Buckets

Think about it: your wheels and lower body panels are going to be the nastiest parts of the car. Why would you want to keep using the same bucket the whole time and just redistribute that dirt all over the vehicle? Instead, use one bucket for the rest of the vehicle, one bucket for the wheels and one bucket to rinse.

Remember that you should wash starting with the roof and work your way down, otherwise, you'll be working your way up to the roof and dripping all over the work you've already done.

a man washing a car

Source | Advance Auto Parts 

#4 Wash Your Vehicle in Straight Strokes, Not Circles

"Wax on, Wax off" is fine when applying wax with a circular motion, enjoy the 80's movie reference and have a blast, but you should avoid that technique while washing. Washing in circles with the rag or sponge will leave swirl marks.

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# 5 Try Using a Leaf Blower to Dry Your Vehicle

Drying the car so that you don't leave spots or marks is a challenge, so consider blow-drying with a leaf blower. After all, many automated car washes now include a high-velocity blower for this final step before you pull out of the wash bay. If you really must dry the vehicle by hand, consider microfiber towels that absorb water and don't leave lint behind. It's a good idea to have some on hand anyway, as they have all sorts of uses for cleaning glass, interior panels and detailing work.

#6  Use a Wax or Polymer-Blend Protectant

Meguiar's Hybrid Ceramic bottle

Technology for finish protection keeps evolving, and a polymer-based protectant can provide a hard finish that guards against damage from road grime or bugs while repelling water. The great news is that there are plenty of polymer protectants on the market that are pretty affordable. It's not just a way to keep your car looking good, it's protecting your investment; you can think of washing and waxing as one more preventive maintenance task!



Find Car Care Deals and Basic, Better and Deluxe Wash & Wax recommendations for the experts here.

Last updated June 4, 2023