We all love a sparkling clean set of wheels, but a trip to the car wash for a thorough clean and polish can cost a lot of money and you can’t always be sure you’re getting good value.
Cleaning the car is a job many of us put off, but doing it yourself means you’ll pay no more than the cost of the products, which can be used again many times.
Paying attention to detail when cleaning your car not only keeps it looking like new, but it can help prevent premature rust and extend the life of the paint job.
Follow our easy guide on how to clean the car like a professional, achieving a sparkling finish and long-lasting results.
1. Wash the car
Soak the car with a hose or pressure washer to wash away surface dirt and dust.
Use a jet spray on the wheel wells where road dirt accumulates. Be sure to check water restrictions in your area before hosing.
Fill a bucket with warm water and add car-washing liquid, following the volume instructions.
Don’t be tempted to use detergents such as dishwashing liquid as they are too harsh for the paintwork.
Starting from the roof down, work in sections using a microfibre cloth in a circular motion, and rinse the area immediately before moving on to the next section.
Open the bonnet and boot and wipe the crevices, not forgetting around the licence plates, door handles and trim.
Rinse the whole car again then dry with a chamois, starting from the roof and wringing the chamois often.
TIP: The surface of the car must not be hot when applying cleaning products, so never work in direct sunlight.
Many pressure washers have a car washing brush to scrub dirt and grime away from problem areas.
2. Scrub wheels and tyres
Soap and water is often not enough to remove caked-on dirt and grease on the wheels, so buy a specialist product for the type of wheel, which may be painted, chrome, alloy or clear coat.
Spray with wheel and tyre cleaner and allow it to soak in for 10 minutes.
Use a soft-bristle brush to work the cleaner into all the nooks and recesses.
Rinse and repeat if necessary.
3. Revive the paintwork
Contamination from brake dust, air pollution and salt dulls the finish on your car and will eventually lead to surface rust and oxidisation.
The best way to revive the finish is with a rubbing compound or clay bar kits.
Professional detailers have been using these products for years and now they are commercially available.
Using a damp, clean cloth, rub the compound back and forth, overlapping each stroke and applying firm pressure.
Keep going until the surface is as smooth as glass, and use a dry clean cloth to remove any residue.