How to wash a car by hand

Washing your car by hand can be a relaxing and satisfying activity, as well as allowing you to save money and pay more attention to the particularly dirty areas of your vehicle. Commercial car washes use abrasive materials that can scratch or damage the paint of your car, so hand washing will allow you to keep it in top condition. For this, your car should be on a flat surface and under the shade; you must also have access to the water and a hose. It will be necessary to wash your entire car in a single session, which will usually take an hour or two, depending on the size of the vehicle and how dirty it is.

Park the car in a place out of direct sunlight. This will prevent water from drying out early and stains on the paint. If you wash it in direct sunlight, you run the risk of it getting hot, which will make the water evaporate faster and make the cleaning process difficult.

Be sure to close all windows and retract the antenna in order to prevent water from entering or breaking the antenna.

Lift the windscreen wipers until you hear a sound indicating they are away from the glass.

Have all the materials you need near the car. Cleaning materials needed to wash the car include: special detergent for car cleaning, a considerable supply of water (depending on the size of your vehicle), three buckets (two for washing and one for rinsing), a hose and microfiber cloths or towels to dry the car. You’ll also need two hand washing mitts, a large sponge, a stiff scrub brush, and perhaps another one to scrub the tires.

Prepare to get wet and fill with soap. Wear appropriate attire for this task: shorts and rubber sandals (if the weather is appropriate), or long pants and rubber boots (if cold).

You can buy a specific detergent for car cleaning at your local dealer. When filling the two buckets with the detergent, carefully follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the ratio of detergent to water.

Fill the bucket with water. Then pour detergent to wash cars according to the amount specified in the container. This will be the bucket you will use to wash the car. If your vehicle is very dirty or if you want a bucket to wash the chassis and another one for the wheels, fill both with water and detergent.

Fill another bucket with pure water. This will be the bucket you will use to rinse the car. Note that you will only need one, regardless of whether you spend one or two for the wash

Wash the car

Use a hose to spray water in order to soften the dirt. Do not use a very strong stream of water, because you will crack the paint and scratch it. It aims to point the jet in descending direction on all the surfaces. If you point up near the windows and there is some imperfection in the rubber seals, the water could seep in.

Wash the wheels first. As the wheels are usually the dirtiest part of the car, it is best to wash them first in order to prevent dirt from adhering to a clean part. Use a long, thin bristle brush to clean the wheel openings.

If the wheels are already shiny and clean, use a sponge or a gauntlet to clean them just as you would with the rest of the car after removing the most dirt using the hose.

Wash your car using a large mitten. Before you start rubbing the surface of the car, soak a large sponge or mitt in the water with detergent and then make sure to remove any dirt. Do not use a brush to clean the surface of the car, since you can leave some scratches.

Mittens that have long, hanging strands are not as abrasive to the surface of the car. It is recommended that you use one of these, as it is less likely to produce scratches. Rinse and then immerse frequently in water with detergent.

Unlike sponges, mittens can also be washed in a washing machine in order to remove all dirt from them.

Start washing section by section from the top. Scroll around the car several times and gradually lower at each turn. If you wash the car from top to bottom, you will allow the detergent to drip down to the lower sections while still handling the upper ones. In this way, you will avoid washing the same sections twice.

If the car is very dirty, let the detergent and water handle. Make multiple passes and avoid rubbing the surface too much, as it can scratch or damage the paint.

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Rub dirty surfaces with bird droppings or crushed insects. Bird droppings and insects can damage the paint, so be especially careful to remove them during washing. Clean them as soon as possible with a damp cloth in case you need anything more effective than the mitten. To soften insect remains, apply gentle touches with a sponge soaked in warm water, then leave the water for a moment and then rub the surface.

Use a solution to remove insects and tar where necessary, so you can remove the insects on the surface of the car. Do not scrape too hard or use a brush for this purpose as it will ruin the finish. In the worst case, a few hard-to-remove remains will look better than scratches.

Continuously clean the handle. Continuously rinse the mitt or sponge in the bucket with pure water. If you allow dirt, grime and gravel to accumulate, you may scratch or damage the car’s paint. Rinse the mop frequently in the rinse bucket and, once the water becomes opaque or sandy, empty it and refill it.

Rinse each section after washing. When finished washing a section, rinse it using the hose before moving to another part. Prevent the detergent from drying on the paint and stain. When you rinse sections of the car, follow the same descending procedure that you used to wash them.

Always wash the door locks, the contours (the visible inner part of the frame) and the bottom. It will be a nasty surprise to open the doors of a resplendent car to find them dirty.

Keep the car moist while you wash it. As you go from one section to another, it is important that you use the hose to keep the car moist in order to prevent water droplets from drying on the paint and leaving stains. The correct way to dry it is by using towels rather than air.

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Leave the bottom of the car to the end. Rub the bottom of the wheels to the last, as they are the dirtiest areas. It is a good idea to use a separate sponge or mitt to clean the bottom, as they will probably end up completely dirty with just cleaning this part.

Use a plastic brush to clean the sides of the tires. If the tires are dirty or have absorbed dirt because of the roads you’ve driven, you probably cannot clean them with a sponge or mitten. Use a plastic brush with stiff bristles to clean the dirt on the side of the tires.

The auto parts store in your area will have several brands of tire and wheel cleaners on sale, which will help you to clean dirt on them effectively.

If you prefer, use a vinyl, rubber or plastic conditioner for the dark colored plastic parts and for the rims. You can buy it at your local auto parts store.

Dry and wash the car

Dry the vehicle using clean towels. You will probably need to use several to clean all the surfaces you have washed in order to avoid rust buildup. Be sure not to leave any water remaining in the car after drying, as this may stain the paint or cause oxidation.

Microfiber towels are best suited for drying all surfaces of the car. When finished using them, wash them in the washing machine. However, avoid using fabric softener in them, as it can remain impregnated in the pores, then begin to seep and leave residues on the surface.

After the car is dry, turn it on. You should only apply the wax (or similar polisher) when the car is dry and clean. You may need to apply it more than once, especially if after washing the water forms small spots on the surface. In rare cases, abrasive polishers will be used in cars with paint finishes, because they run the risk of damaging the outer layer.

Wax (or one of the most recent polymer products) protects the paint from the sun so that it does not fade or deteriorate. It also protects the finish from dirt that bumps in front of your vehicle as it moves on the road. Polymer products last longer than wax, especially those that sell in auto parts stores compared to those offered at dealerships, which often cost a lot more.

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Deal with rust and paint damage as needed. Remove rust from the car and retouch the paint in case of significant damage, or stabilize and seal small scratches and rust spots using rust converter. Clean dirt or corrosive pretreatment chemicals, give the rust converter time to dry and settle, and do not apply close to the finish of fresh paint.

Adhesive attachments such as door and bumper guards, as well as reflective strips, bond best to a clean, dry surface without too much wax. Therefore, before waxing the car, retouch the paint or stick the adhesive accessories.

A polymeric wax-like product can be much easier to polish than the wax itself, even if you let it dry for longer than necessary.

Perform a water-resistant treatment on windows. Perform a water resistance treatment on clean and dry windows to repel water and improve visibility. Reapply the repellent product when the water no longer forms small spots. Do it every few months on the side and rear windows, and approximately every month on the windshield, where it is most needed, as the windshield wipers tend to cause friction against the glass.

A glass cleaner can leave the windows a bit clearer than a solution of simply water and detergent, but drying with microfiber towels after washing the car can leave them just as glowing. It cleans both the inside and the outside of them.

Use baby wipes to wipe any dirt off the windshield.