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Tips on Hand-Washing Your Car

Tips on Hand-Washing Your Car

For most people, washing your car by hand can be a therapeutic act.  Little known fact, it is also the best way to maintain a new-car finish.  Below are some basic car-washing tips.

When to wash your car

Don’t wait for your car to actually be dirty.  Bug guts, bird poop and chemicals that are present in the atmosphere can all leach acids into the wax, stripping away the wax and eating away at the car’s paint.

Do wash off bug guts, bird poop and any tree sap as soon as noticeable.  A good rule of thumb is to wash your car at least once per week.

What products should I use

Don’t use household items such as hand soap, dish-washing detergent or glass cleaner.

Do use specially designed car-washing products.  They are designed to be miler and are safe for automotive paint.  Use a large, soft sponge or a lamb’s wool mitt.

Do use a separate sponge to clean the wheels and tires which may be coated with sand, dirt, grease and other grime that can ruin the rest of the car’s finish.

General guidelines

Don’t wash your car when the body is hot, such as just after driving or when it’s been sitting in the hot afternoon sun.  This speeds up the drying process, leaving more spots or deposits.

Don’t move the sponge in circles.  This can cause scratch marks that are visible.  Rather, use the sponge lengthwise across the hood and other body panels.

Do rinse all surfaces thoroughly with water.

Do concentrate on one section at a time. 

Do ensure a rich lather with plenty of suds to provide lots of lubrication on the paint.

Best drying practices

Don’t let the car air dry.  This will leave water marks.

Do use a chamois or soft terry towels.  These won’t leave hairline scratch marks on the paint.

Do blot the water off instead of dragging the towel.

A soft squeegee can be used to remove most of the water.

Consumer Reports (February 2014).  Do’s and Don’ts of Washing Your Car.  Retrieved from

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