The Ultimate DIY Car Wash Guide - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Aug 21, 2020

The Ultimate DIY Car Wash Guide

Between summer bugs and winter wear and tear, your car goes through a lot year-round. We’ve put together the ultimate DIY guide for washing your vehicle right in your own driveway. Read below for steps to get your ride shining like new.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

While you can certainly achieve a clean car with a bucket and sponge, for the ultimate car wash we recommend the following:

       A shady spot if possible (the sun can dry your car too quickly, leaving product residue)
       A hose
       2 five-gallon buckets with grit guards (grit guards are screens you can place in your buckets to help hold any dirt or debris at the bottom of your bucket)
       Microfiber mitt or auto washing sponge
       At least 3 microfiber detailing cloths
       One or two large microfiber drying towels
       Wheel brush
       High quality auto soap
       Auto bug removal spray
       Wheel (rim) cleaner
       Tire shine
       High quality car wax or sealant
       Wax applicator pad
       Glass cleaner

Step 2: Washing Your Vehicle

First, you’ll want to rinse the entire vehicle off with the hose, trying to rid it of dirt and grime before touching it with your sponge.

Next, you’ll want to work in sections with the following two-bucket method:

       Fill 1 bucket with clean water.
       Fill 1 bucket with clean water and add soap according to the instructions on the package.
       Wash one section of your car with the soap water and sponge, then dip your sponge into the clean water bucket and scrub the sponge on the grit guard. This will help to rid your sponge or cloth of any debris that may have come off of your vehicle. In turn, this helps to avoid scratching your paint, leaving you with a clean sponge for every wipe with soap.

Continue with this method around your vehicle, focusing on the top of your car and working your way down. Rinse each section with the hose once you're done with the soap and sponge to avoid the soap from drying on to your vehicle. You will also want to dry each section with your large drying cloth to avoid water spots.

The further down you go, the dirtier your car will be in most cases. Wash your wheels last with your wheel brush, as these will probably be the dirtiest part of your vehicle. Doing this will help to avoid scratching up your paint with any stray dirt and grime.

Step 3: Bug Removal

You may notice that your typical soap and sponge isn’t up for the task of removing stuck-on bugs from your vehicle. Follow the instructions outlined on the bug removal product to remove any bugs left over after washing your vehicle.

Step 4: Tire Cleaning

You’ve scrubbed your wheels and tires with soapy water, but to give them the ultimate shine you should use a rim cleaner. Be sure to follow the package instructions for optimal results.

Next, apply tire shine to get your tires looking factory new! Be careful not to get tire shine or wheel cleaner on your vehicle as its oily texture isn’t good for your car’s paint.

While you’re at it, now is a great time to check your tire tread. To learn more about safe tire tread, click here.

Step 5: “Wax on, Wax off.”

This step may be the most important to increasing your vehicle’s paint longevity. According to the package instructions, apply wax to the buffing pad and work the product onto your vehicle. Buff off with a soft, clean microfiber detailing towel.

Step 6: Don’t Forget the Windows!

You’re almost done! Using a glass cleaner and small microfiber cloth, wipe your windows inside and out. This step should be done often, especially on the inside of your windshield to avoid glare from the sun on any dirt or residue that may have settled on the inside of your windows.

Step 7: Step Back and Enjoy Your Hard Work!

No instructions here, just pat yourself on the back and try to avoid mud puddles for a while!

This thorough process isn’t necessary each time you wash your car, but you will want to wax and buff your vehicle at least twice per year to protect your paint from the seasonal elements. Treating your car to an ultimate car wash not only makes it look better but helps the longevity of your vehicle’s finishes.

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