Few things are as satisfying than a meticulously clean car. It’s a feat rarely achievable at your local automatic car wash with its tough-bristled brushes and limited effectiveness. Even the do-it-yourself cleaning bays can cause more harm than good as the foaming brush often collects debris ready to scratch the surface of your vehicle.
Instead, pulling out the hose and a few buckets in the driveway allows you to take your time, focusing on the dirtier parts of the vehicle. Taking the DIY approach also gives you the opportunity to clean your car safely, without damaging the paint. Here are ten easy steps that’ll help you wash your car like a pro in your driveway.
Evaluate the Condition of Your Vehicle
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a crucial step. Determine how dirty your car is before hauling out the hoses, buckets, cleaning supplies, and towels. Is mud caked on the rockers or is the car covered in fine dust?
You may not need an entire arsenal of products for a quick touchup wash. Also, look at the car itself. An older car may need a whole cleaning regimen with clays, waxes, and polishes to protect the paint, while a new car may have a robust clear coat still attached.
Read the Label
Before applying anything to your vehicle, read the label. Not all automotive cleaning products are all-purpose, and some could even damage the paint, clear coat, or other finishes inside and out.
Also, reading the directions will help save time and money, ensuring you’re using the right amount of product for the task at hands.
The Three-Bucket System
The goal of a vehicle deep-clean is to remove contaminants from the surface of the vehicle. That last thing you want to do is wash the car with dirty water, which only reintroduces those same contaminants you’re trying to remove.
That’s where the three-bucket cleaning system comes into play. You have one bucket filled with clean soapy water and another bucket with just water. The water bucket is designed for rinsing your cleaning mitt before dunking it back into the soapy bucket. The third bucket should be used for wheels and tires exclusively, as these are often especially dirty.
Washing Your Car
You’d think washing the vehicle would come later in the process. In actuality, washing the car is where you start on your DIY adventure to a clean car. This will remove loose contaminants such as dust, dirt, and mud.
But before you even attack the paint with a wash mitt, rinse the car down first to remove larger pieces of dirt. Then you can add soapy water to the exterior, but make sure the soap is designed for car washing. Liquid detergents and dish cleaners can strip away the wax and damage the paint.
Prepare the Surface
Now that the car is washed, it’ll be easier to spot deep-seated blemishes such as swirls, scratches, and oxidation in the paint.