Washing the Exterior

Dust and dirt gathered from the outside can cause great harm to our car’s body. Rain, especially acid rain formed by rain combining with waste gases in the atmosphere, if left unwashed after falling on our car, can also cause damage to our car’s body paint. That is why even if we do not have time to do a full car wash, it is good practice to often hose down our car body after going through rain or very dusty and dirty surroundings.

The longer we allow dust and dirt to build up on our car, the more damaging it will be to remove them. Ideally, a car should be washed as often as practicable but if not too dirty, once a week would be good to maintain car body paint.

Use the right cloth and washing liquid

Washing our car the right way is essential to avoid unnecessary damage or scratches to the surface. It is good practice to use separate mircofibre cloths or sponge to wash the car exterior and a different set or colour for the car interior. Never use old bath towels or flannel cloth to wash car body as the flint that come out can scratch car body paintwork. Dish washing liquids are not suitable at all for washing cars as they can also remove essential oils and wax on the car body finish. Use only cleaning liquids formulated for cars as they are can preserve paintwork better. They can be found in most DIY shops or hypermarkets.

Hand wash for best effect

Hand washing a car is the best way to know every corner of our car body so that special attention can be given for those parts affected by scratches, stains or dents. We start by mixing a pail of water with a few capfuls of concentrated car cleaning liquid as per manufacturer’s instructions. Sufficient lather is worked up to ensure more efficient cleaning of the car body. Before washing the car with the cleaning liquid, we wet the car body by hosing it down with a powerful jet of water and try to dislodge clumps of dirt or stains with the water. Using the mocrofibre cloth and cleaning liquid, we clean from the top to bottom by starting with the roof first, then the windows and windscreen, carefully pulling up windshield wipers and cleaning the wiper rubber, and then cleaning every panel, stopping at the bottom panel and car tyres as they are usually the dirtiest and should be done last. Every so often we should remember to clean and rinse the cleaning cloth or sponge we are using in a pail of clean water, using our hands to loosen and rinse away any dirt particles. After the whole car body has been cleaned with the car washing liquid, we then use our cloth for the bottom panel, and a separate one for cleaning our car tyres and rims. Rinsing and cleaning is then done for the whole car from top to bottom by hosing with a jet of water, at the same time gently wiping away the cleaning liquid with our wet microfibre cloth. To dry the car, we use a dry microfibre towel, cleaning and rinsing it in a fresh pail of water. Doing a car wash is the minimum we can do to care for our car and should be done as often as practicable to maintain our car body exterior.

Cleaning car tyres

We should clean our car wheels and tyres last as they are in contact with the road all the time and collect dirt, tar and oils, so it is always good practice to separate the cleaning of wheels and tyres from the rest of the car. Dirt from tyres and lower panels of the car can also stick to our cleaning cloth or sponge and then scratch our car body paint. As with our car body, we start by wetting the wheels with a jet hose and then we spray a wheel and tyre cleaner onto them. There are different types of wheel cleaners in the market, but thebetter ones should be water-based solutions, ie. acid-free, so as to avoid damage to our wheels and to the environment. We let the solution stay on for a while and then wash them off by scrubbing with a stiff brush remembering only to clean the rubber and avoid scratching the metallic rims. As for the rims, we use a separate cloth to clean them with car washing liquid mixed in water, going through every corner behind the rims and then thoroughly rinsing them off with a strong jet of water and drying with a cloth.

Read our other posts on DIY Car Care Tips for Body Paintwork and DIY Car Cleaning Tips for the Interior.