How To Properly Wash And Wax A Car

/ Friday, July 19, 2013 /
Now that I've been working out of the home and filling the role as stay-at-home-dad for around 14 months now I've started looking into things that I never spent any time or energy on previously. These days I'm gathering all the information possible on washing cars, waxing them, detailing them, and generally making them look great all the time.

I never had the time or inclination to do this in the past but now that my son loves being outside and I can take the time to do things properly I'm finding it to be a lot of fun learning and experimenting.

If you know me then you know that I'm not a car guy at all and if you've simply stumbled upon this page through the series of tubes we call "the internet" then I hope you understand that I'm not a car snob either... I just want to find productive things to do around the home that will create value and save me money in the long run.

When it comes to washing cars I've found that every car I've ever sold was easier to sell if it looked like it was in good shape. I've also noticed that the only time I really get compliments on my car is after it has been detailed. Good looking cars are far more interesting and valuable than cars which havn't been cared for.

Instead of paying loads of cash routinely for a wash, wax, and rinse I figure keeping this up myself is a better way to go.

An Overview of Car Care

  1. Wash & Dry Your Car Regularly.
  2. Occasionally, after washing, use a clay bar to restore "smoothness" to your car's surface.
  3. Every now and then polish your car after washing it and after using a clay bar.
  4. If you polish your car you should then apply a sealant coat.
  5. After washing, smoothing, and polishing your car apply a wax coat. This can be done as infrequently as every 6-months if you choose to. every couple months is appropriate for those who wish to take the time to do so.

Warnings and Precautions

Just A Few Things I've Learned Along The Way

  1. Never use dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, or any other household cleaners on your car. Although most "gentle" detergents will clean your car just fine without damaging the paint they still contain detergents that will wash away the wax which protects the paint.
  2. If you wash your car with water only your wash mitt or towel will grind dirt into the paint. Proper car wash soaps are designed to lubricate the car so that the dirt glides off the surface. They are not detergent based.
  3. Always clean and dry your car before you use a clay bar to smooth out the surface of the vehicle.

The Best Way To Wash A Car's Exterior

  1. Only wash your car in the shade when the engine and exterior of the car is cool to the touch. You can wash it in the sun or when it's hot but water spots will be hard to avoid as the car air dries in the sun or when hot.
  2. Use a automobile soap that does not use detergents. These soaps almost never use them but the more expensive products are better lubricants and make washing the car easier. Considering the cost of expensive car wash soap vs the cost of cheap car wash soap it's probably better to just buy the expensive stuff as you'll only be spending a few dollars more.
  3. Use a microfiber wash mitt to actually clean your car. These mitts make it easier to clean as they hold more soap suds and they are the least likely material to damage your car's paint job. They are very soft and gentle and they are easy to clean - just throw them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. Yes, you could use basic wash cloths but they are more abrasive and will take longer to clean your car as they don't hold soap like the better mitts on the market. Again, cheaper mitts are worth looking into but the better one's will hold up better over time and may wash your car a little bit more efficiently.

Smooth Out The Rough (but clean) Exterior with Clay

After washing you'll want to consider using a clay bar to smooth out the surface of the car. Even the cleanest of cars have spots which are rough to the touch. This is caused in large part by debris bonding to the surface of the paint. Although it won't wash off a clay bar can smooth these spots out giving you a pristine surface for shining or waxing should you choose to take those further steps.

This page is still in a draft state. It is in essence a work-in-progress page while I continue my research. Check back again if you are interested in updates to come.

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