How to get a professional job at home

The car wash is convenient. However, hand-washing your vehicle allows for a more thorough job, which can help maintain the vehicles paint and finish. Consider several tips for car washing at home.

Timing and location. Ideally, a weekly washing is best, but time constraints often are an issue. A thorough monthly hand-washing can keep your vehicle looking great. When picking a washing day, opt for the coolest time of day (early morning, late afternoon/early evening), and never wash the vehicle in full sunlight. Shade is best and wont bake cleaning products onto the vehicles paint.

Washing tools. Old T-shirt rags or dishtowels are not the best choice. Their fibers actually can scratch the vehicles paint. Opt for soft washing mitts or sponges made of sheepskin or microfiber.

Scrub wheels and tires first. It often takes elbow grease and scrubbing to get the wheels sparkling, but a non-acid base cleaner can help remove stubborn grime. If you wash the wheels and tires first, then any overspray with cleaning products will be rinsed away while youre washing the rest of the vehicle.

Rinse before washing. Rinse the vehicle thoroughly before washing it with soap. The rinse helps to remove dirt clumps and loosen bird droppings.

Soap. Regular dish detergent (mild soap only) can get a vehicle clean. However, many auto professionals recommend using a commercial product designed specifically for home car washing. The New York Daily News reports that dishwashing detergents can remove dirt from vehicles, but they also can remove layers of wax, silicone and polymers that are there to help protect the vehicles paint.

Buckets. Two buckets make the washing job easier and more efficient. Fill one bucket with soapy water and the other with plain water. Each time you need to re-soap, first rinse the sponge or mitt in the clean water. This helps remove any bits and particles from the sponge/mitt, keeping those particles from re-depositing on the vehicle.

Wash top to bottom. Its tempting to want to wash a vehicle starting from front to back. If you wash from top to bottom, then a continuous stream of water and soap saturates the lower areas of the vehicle—these typically are the dirtiest areas, receiving splashes and grime from the road as you travel.

Special cleaners for front grill and bumper. Bug and tar remover makes cleaning sticky, stubborn gunk from the vehicles front grill and bumper easier. In general, its best to spray the cleaner on the dirty area while youre preparing the car washing materials. Most commercial bug and tar removers require a few minutes of saturation time to work properly. Always read all product instructions and warnings before applying to your vehicle.

Drying. Air-drying may result in water spots. Take the time and wipe the vehicle dry with clean, cotton towels. Never use paper towels, as their fibers can scratch the paint.

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