How to hand wash your car.

There are benefits to hand washing your own car.

Washing your car by hand shouldn’t be a chore and the small amount of effort will save you money and help to increase your level of activity during your day.

Actually, I get a lot of satisfaction from washing my car and, as a perfectionist, I find I do a much better job than all the automated machines and most of the hand washing yards

As obvious as it might seem, there are some simple rules and steps to follow while hand washing your car. So follow these steps to maintain a super shiny car.

Dress for the occasion.

You might get a bit wet. In summertime, shorts and t-shirt is a natural choice but a fleece is ideal in cooler climates. But whatever you wear, avoid metal zippers, belt buckles, cod pieces or anything that might scratch your paintwork.

Prepare your equipment

The minimum kit you’ll need is:

  1. Bucket
  2. Car sponge
  3. Car shampoo
  4. Warm water.
  5. A hose pipe with a variable nozzle is preferable if you have access.
  6. Chamois leather or synthetic equivalent (the bigger the better)
  7. A super plush (furry) microfibre cloth

Optional additional kit-

  • A jet spray is a luxury and will help with a heavy dirt layer.

Follow these steps!

  1. Soak your car with cold water – this removes top layer of loose dirt. Cold water helps keep the car wet for longer.
  2. Mix the shampoo with warm water and use the hose on maximum spray to foam the water in the bucket.
  3. Start at the top – spray the roof again if it’s dried then use the sponge to cover the roof with foamy water. Use large strokes to wash the roof and avoid missing patches by overlapping strokes. There’s no need to apply pressure.
  4. Rinse the foamy water off with the hose.
  5. Work your way down – next wash the windows and the pillars with the same method. Wash only one side at a time and rinse before moving on leaving the windscreen until last.
  6. Work your way further down – The bonnet/hood should follow, then each panel in turn, rinsing each before you move onto the next.
  7. Check the windscreen again for persistent bugs and repeat a wash if necessary before you move onto the sills and wheels.
  8. Finish with the sills followed by the wheels. Don’t use the sponge on paintwork after using it on the wheels. Brake dust on the wheels is abrasive and could ruin a perfect gloss.
  9. Spray the entire car over one last time on fine mist setting. Your car will be clean but you will need stop watermarks forming.
  10. Chamois off – Soak the chamois leather and ring it out. Open the chamois and flop it down flat onto the roof and drag it off towards you. Take care never to let the chamois touch the ground. Ring out the chamois before it becomes too saturated.
  11. Dry the sides. Hold the chamois by the top corners to drag it upwards over the side panels.
  12. Final buff down. Wait for the car to dry completely before buffing the clean paintwork lightly with a super plush microfibre towel to remove any final watermarks. Dampen a corner of the cloth to use on more persistent water stains.

More useful tips…

As tempting as it is, don’t wash your car in bright, direct sunlight. It’ll dry too quickly between stages and make the job a little harder. Find a shady spot (but not under a tree where birds dump their load!)

It’s best to use a new sponge for each wash to avoid scratching your paintwork – or have 2 sponges, one for the paintwork and windows, the other for the sills and wheel hubs.

Do not use the any sponge, cloth or chamois leather if it has touched your driveway. Grit will scratch paintwork.

Microfibre cloths can be cleaned! Click for more microfibre washing tips.

Good chamois leathers can be expensive but with a little care for they last well. Click for tips on chamois leather care tips.


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