The quality of your car finish is directly related to not only how often you wash your car but the manner in which you do it. Car finishes have evolved over the years to deep high tech finishes that are more durable than ever and designed to withstand the rigors of year round driving in harsh environments. Frequency of washing your car is also related to your environment.
How often should I wash my car?
- If you live closer to salt water, you will want to wash your car more often to remove salt deposits that will exacerbate finish wear and enhance rapid corrosion. You may want to wash it once a week depending on a number of factors.
- Driving a car in a wet, muddy environment is also cause for frequent washings. The mud will adhere to the bottom of the car, the fender wells, and the rocker panels, abrading the finish and encouraging rapid rust. You may want to wash your car more than once a week depending on how, where, and when you drive in these conditions.
- At a bare minimum, you should wash your car once a month to maintain your car’s finish in a near-factory state.
Preparing to wash my car
- Many municipalities require that you wash your car on a dirt or grass surface to minimize storm water contamination from suds.
- Do not wash your car on a bright, sunny day or in the middle of the day. In general, early morning or late in the afternoon is the best time to wash your car so the midday sun does not dry soap on the finish or cause spotting.
- Using a garden hose with a good spray nozzle and cold water, hose off your car thoroughly to rinse off the bulk of loose dirt, mud, bird waste, and road debris.
- While the car is still wet, use a soft washing glove, chamois, a large, good quality sponge, or a terry cloth rag and a mild car washing detergent in a gallon of warm water to wash one part of the car at a time such as the grill or the rear bumper.
Washing my car
- Start at the top of the car and work downward.
- After washing one part of the car, grab the hose and rinse that part off thoroughly. While you still have the hose, rinse the entire car off again.
- Move to the next adjacent side of the car and wash that.
- Rinse it thoroughly from the top down and repeat the process all the way around the car.
- When you have washed the top and sides of your car, start on the wheel rims and tires.
- Do not use the same wash cloth on the car as you use on the wheel rims and tires. The embedded dirt may scratch your car’s finish.
- When rinsing off the wheels and tires, hose off the wheel wells thoroughly.
- After you have gone over your whole vehicle, use a dry chamois to wipe down your car until it is dry. Ring out the chamois as it collects water.
- After the car is completely dry, apply a good quality car wax according to the manufacturer’s instructions and buff it to a brilliant shine.
If your windows are very dirty go easy on scrubbing or you may scratch the glass. Be sure to rinse it thoroughly before washing with a cloth, sponge, or glove and warm soapy water and again afterwards.
Avoid harsh laundry or dishwashing detergents.
Do not use brushes of any kind unless they are specifically designed for washing an automobile.
Discuss this and other Home Improvement Topics in our How To Forum