Guide: How To Wash Your Car at Home

Did you know that many household items can be used to wash your car? You don’t need a pressure washer or fancy cleaning products to get your car shiny clean - warm water, soap and microfibre cloths will do the job (a good playlist or CD always helps too). Here’s our guide to washing your car at home. 

Part one: Prepare for your car wash

 1. Gather your equipment

It’s better to round up everything you need before starting to wash your car to avoid any extra mess getting into your home. You will need:

  • Water hose
  • Sponge
  • Two Buckets
  • Stiff brush (brush from a dustpan will work)
  • Car wash (shampoo can be used if you don’t have any. Do not use dish washing up liquid as it’s too abrasive)
  • Glass cleaner (white vinegar and newspaper can be used too)
  • Wash mitts
  • Microfibre towel
  • Car wax 

Fill your bucket with warm water and soap and the other with normal water. These will be your washing and rinsing buckets - you may want to use two washing buckets if your car is very dirty or if you’d like to use separate buckets for the car body and wheels. 

Tip: Wear old clothes - this will get wet and messy!

2. Prepare your car

Ensure that your car is parked out of direct sunlight to avoid premature drying that can lead to streaks. Then check the following:

  • Windows are closed
  • Antenna is retracted
  • Windshield wipers are pulled from screen into propped position 

Tip: Got kids at home? Get them involved with washing the car for a bit of fun.

Part Two: Washing the car 

 1. Hose off the car

Start by hosing down the car to loosen and soften any dirt. Always point the water flow downwards to ensure it doesn’t drip in through the rubber window seals. Avoid using a strong jet of water at this stage as it could move the dirt around and cause scratching..

2. Wash the wheels

It’s best to start with washing the wheels as they are usually the dirtiest. Hose away the loose dirt and then use your brush to scrub the wheel openings. Keep scrubbing and rinsing until the water looks clean coming out of the wheel.

3. Wash the car with a mitt or sponge 

Soak the sponge / mitt in the soapy water and rub the car working from top to bottom. Do not use a scrubbing brush on the car as it could scrape the paintwork. Continue to soak, wash and rinse until you’ve removed dirt such as bugs, bird droppings and mud and the whole car is soapy. You may need to change the water or mitt throughout the process if your car is very dirty.

4. Rinse each section of the car as you wash it

It’s important to rinse the soapy areas of your car before moving on to the next section - dried soap can cause damage to the paint. Keep the entire car wet with the hose as you complete this. Keeping the car wet will stop water droplet marks until you are ready to dry the car later.

5. Spray the underside of your car

Take a moment to spray the underside of your car with the hose to rinse it.

Part Three: Drying your car 

1. Dry your car with clean, dry microfiber towels 

Microfiber towels work best for drying your car but cotton towels will work too. You may need several towels. Starting at the top, wipe and dry the car ensuring that no residue is left and each section is fully dry to prevent rusting. 

2. Wax your car

Wax should only ever be applied to a clean, fully dry car. It usually involves rubbing wax into the car’s paintwork in sections followed by buffing with a clean cloth. Follow the instructions on the wax product you’re using for the best results. 

3. Do I have to wax my car?

Waxing your car adds a layer of protection to your paintwork and delays the fading of colour. It will also give your car a shiny finish and keep your car cleaner for longer. 

4. Clean your car windows

You can clean your car windows with window cleaner or by applying white vinegar with newspaper in quick, circular motions. Now is a good time to check the fluid for your windscreen washer pump and test your oil levels with the dipstick. 

Part Four: Inside your car

You can choose to finish cleaning your car when it’s dry or you can move to cleaning the inside - it all depends how much time you have. 

1. Hoover your car

Remove the large head on your hoover and use the thin brush nozzle to hoover the inside of your car. Take out the floor mats and give them a good shake to remove the excess dirt before hoovering. Leave them aside while you hoover the car floors.

2. Polish your car

Eliminate dust etc by using household polish and a cloth on your car’s surfaces. 

3. Get rid of any rubbish or clutter

Open the glove box and boot to get rid of anything that doesn’t belong there. Throw out the rubbish and reorganise what’s left so it’s neat and tidy. Check that your spare tyre and emergency kits are in working order while you’re cleaning the boot.

Now it’s time to give yourself a pat on the back as your car is spic and span both inside and out and you’ve saved the cost of a garage wash. 

Wax will help to protect your car’s paintwork, but it won’t have much effect if you’re involved in an incident. Ensure your car and its passengers are protected with a comprehensive insurance policy from AIG. Each of our comprehensive policies come with breakdown assist, windscreen cover, new car replacement and other benefits included as standard. Get an online quote today. 

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