How to Wash Your Car – a Girly Guide

The summer is coming and driving around in the sun in freshly washed, shiny car feels terrific. It is also the perfect season to wash your own car because it is a fun way to exercise, get wet and keep cool while saving money. So where do you start?

The Exterior

First of all, choose a clear day and put on old, comfortable clothing. Find a shady spot away from dripping trees and accessible to your water supply. Close all doors and windows of the car. Put the car soap into a bucket and fill it a couple of inches from the top with warm water. Hose down the car to remove surface dirt and grime. Lather up a sponge or terry cloth rag in the soapy bucket and start with the roof of the car. Always start at the top and work your way down when washing a car. After the roof, soap up each of the four sides individually. Make sure to include windows, rear view mirrors, tires and fenders. Rinse the car with cool, clear water. Finally, dry the car off with a chamois leather cloth (shammy) or soft terry cloth towel. After this, you may decide to spray a protective agent over your tires to clean them. Avoid spraying the agent on your car or tire rims and direct the spray only on your tires. Let is sit for a couple of minutes and then wipe off each tire with a terry towel.

Many people use dish detergent rather than traditional car soap to wash their cars. Although it is okay to do so, remember that dish detergent was developed to remove animal and vegetable oils from your dishes. Therefore, it also washes a great deal of the wax off your car.

Wax or Polish

Wax and polish are terms that are used interchangeably and all such products are designed to clean, shine and protect, unless other specified by the manufacturer. The only real difference between the two is that a polishing compound will clean and shine only and the compound is also used to remove small scratches on the paint’s surface. There is absolutely no difference between the protection provided by liquid wax versus paste wax and the decision is made based purely on preference and ease of application. However, when using a paste wax, it often makes the wax easier to apply in a uniform layer when you dampen the applicator. A terry cloth bonnet is a great way to apply was because it is inexpensive, easy to wash and does not scratch. The time to wax your car is when water does not bead on its surface anymore. Usually, a car should be waxed three to four times per year for maximum protection, including cars with a clear coat finish. Also, certain conditions make it more difficult to wax your car, such as high humidity, extreme hot or cold temperatures (ideal temperature for waxing is between 55-85 degrees Fahrenheit), oxidation, direct sunlight and over-application. Make sure your car has been recently washed prior to waxing. Also, do not apply wax to surfaces that cannot be easily buffed and always apply wax in thin coats.

The Interior

Once the exterior of your car is clean, you can start on the interior. Begin by getting a trash bag and remove all junk and debris. Shake out your floor mats and wash your seat covers, if you have them. Vacuum your seats, floors and mats. Use a mild carpet cleaner or stain remove on your mats and fabric seats, if that is what your car has. Air the floor mats out in the sun and open the windows to air out your car. Use window cleaner and paper towels or newspaper to wash the interior and exterior of your windows. This is also a good time to check the windshield wiper fluid level in your vehicle. Clean your dashboard and doors with a vinyl protectant. If you have leather seats, use a designated leather cleaner to wash them.

Little Tips

A great tip for getting rid of bird feces is seltzer water without salt. A little bit applied to the offensive area removes the grime. A good tip for removing water spots is neutralizing them with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. My favorite preferred car wash and wax products are Turtle Wax – I have always had success with them. For vinyl and rubber, I use Armour All products. Windex remains my preferred window cleaner, whether used with paper towels or newspaper. Finally, I find that Coach makes an outstanding leather cleaner.

Washing your own car is fun, inexpensive and rewarding and protects your investment. Besides, don’t you look so much better in a clean set of wheels?

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