Scholfield Honda New Cars
Mobile Menu Icon Phone Call Icon
  • 360Wichita

Sales: (316) 688-6400   Service: (316) 688-6450

Do’s and Don’ts for Washing Your Car at Home

Thursday, July 13 2017 11:04 AM
Do’s and Don’ts for Washing Your Car at Home

Washing a car at home seems pretty straightforward. Many of us have fond childhood memories of “helping” wash the family car, getting covered in suds and drenched with the hose. But as simple as it may seem, there is a right and a wrong way to wash a car at home.

Done properly, regular washing can extend the life of your paint job (not to mention turn heads as you drive by in a gleaming car!) Improper washing, on the other hand, can dull and degrade your car’s finish over time. Here are some tips for washing your car at home.

What to Use to Wash Your Car

DON’T use regular dish cloths, washcloths or rags to wash your car. Though they may feel soft to the touch, they can be abrasive to paint finishes, causing hairline scratches.

DO use a natural sponge or a wash mitt made of microfiber, sponge material or sheepskin. These are not only soft and non-abrasive, but pull in plenty of suds, which help lubricate the paint surface during washing.

DON’T use regular household cleaners to wash your car. Many people use dish soap for car-washing, but this isn’t a good idea. Why? Dish soap is designed to break down grease…meaning it can also break down your car wax and dry out plastic moldings.

DO use designated car wash soaps and shampoos. They are milder than household soaps and specifically formulated for use on automotive paint. You may need a stronger product, such as bug-and-tar remover, for the grease and road tar deposits that accumulate around the wheel wells and along the lower edge of the vehicle body.

DO use a dedicated wheel cleaner for the wheels, but make sure the type you buy is compatible with the wheel finish (chrome, clear-coat, paint, etc.) If you’re not sure, go with a wheel cleaner that’s labeled as “safe for all wheels.”

When to Wash Your Car

DON’T wash your car immediately after driving it, or if it’s been sitting in the hot sun for awhile. A hot surface will make the soap and water dry too quickly, leaving you with a dull and dingy finish for all your trouble. Water spots and deposits will be more likely to form.

DO wash your car in the shade if you can, or at least out of direct sunlight. Not only will you get a better shine, but it will be more pleasant for you on those hot summer days!

DON’T wash your car on really windy days. The wind can whip tiny particles of sand and grit onto the wet surface as you wash, causing scratching.

How to Wash Your Car at Home

DON’T skip an initial rinse. It will remove loose dirt that can cause scratching.

DO work from the top of the car down. Not only is there the obvious reason (the water, soap and dirt will run from top to bottom anyway,) the bottom portions of the car are the dirtiest from kicked-up mud and road grime. Starting near the bottom of the car will transfer these grime particles up, which may scratch the finish.

DON’T use a circular motion when washing. Why? If you’ve looked at an older car in bright sunlight, you may have noticed light circular scratches in the paint finish. These are called swirl marks, and they’re caused in part by using a circular motion when washing. Instead, you should move the sponge or wash mitt lengthwise across the hood and panels.

DO work on one section of the car at a time, washing and rinsing it before moving to the next. This way, the soap won’t dry before you have time to rinse. When rinsing, either use the hose without a nozzle or with the nozzle on the open flow setting. Let the water flow over the surface from top to bottom. That way, the water will sheet off instead of beading, cutting down on drying time and the potential for water spots.

DO work up plenty of suds. This will provide extra lubrication on the paint surface. Use a strong jet of water from the hose to activate the suds in the bucket.

DO rinse the sponge or wash mitt often, in a separate bucket of clean water. This prevents dirt from getting mixed into the sudsy wash water and rubbed onto the car. For extra protection, use grit guard inserts in both buckets. These are plastic insert grates that sit just above the bottom of the bucket. Dirt sinks to the bottom of the bucket, and the insert prevents your sponge or mitt from picking it back up.

DON’T use a sponge or mitt that’s been dropped on the ground without thoroughly rinsing it out first. It may have picked up dirt particles that can scratch the paint.

DO use a separate sponge, mitt or soft, non-abrasive cloth for the dirtiest parts of the car—the bottom edges and around the wheel wells. They may be covered in mud, sand, brake dust and other debris that can scratch and dull the finish. If these areas are really dirty, you’ll probably need to replace the wash water afterward.

How to Dry the Car

DON’T let the car air dry. It may be tempting to let the sun or a couple trips around the block do the drying work for you, but this can leave watermarks due to hard water mineral deposits.

DO use a chamois cloth or microfiber waffle weave drying cloths. Regular bath towels or rags not only aren’t as absorbent, but they can scratch the paint. Use separate drying towels for the wheels to avoid dirtying the more expensive chamois cloths. To speed up the drying process, you can use a soft paint-safe squeegee, but take care that it doesn’t pick up bits of dirt and debris as you dry.