How to Wash a Car: A Step-By-Step Guide

Man Washing Car


Everyone around Florence can tell you that a freshly-washed car is a car that looks its best, especially after some extra attention to exterior imperfections. Taking care of your vehicle’s exterior with a thorough wash isn’t just a good way to show off a nice paint job, it’s also good for your car, too! Knowing how to wash a car the right way and how often to wash a car are both handy skills as a modern motorist, and it’s that exact information you’ll get on this page! Keep reading to learn more!

Additionally, if you have any questions about this topic, or any other automotive related subject, our team of Ford, Lincoln, Volvo product specialists is ready to chat and help with anything you may need! Give us a call or reach out to us online, and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

Plan Chemical & Equipment Needs Ahead of Time

When going about washing your vehicle, it’s important to consider what exactly you need to do to get it looking fresh and clean again. Does it need a quick once-over with the garden hose and soft-mit? Or would a pressure washer and a bristly brush be more appropriate? Usually, a new or recently-waxed vehicle will only need the former, while an older, less-frequently-washed vehicle may certainly need the latter.

The same car-cleaning chemicals and tools may not be appropriate for everyone’s needs and desired outcome, so in the interest of covering all bases, we’ve put together the guide below to help you select the items you’ll need to get the job done. Depending on the level of cleaning your vehicle’s exterior requires, you can feel free to mix and match the items below for whichever tools and chemicals best suit your car cleaning experience! (If you need help finding any of this stuff, our Parts Center or even a Beach Automotive Group Service Adviser can help point you in the right direction!

How to Wash a Car | Step One: A Good Spray-Down! 

With all windows shut and your vehicle off, give the exterior of your vehicle a good spray down. The purpose of this first step is to remove loose debris and dirt you picked up around Conway and beyond, so they won’t be around to scrub into the vehicle’s paint when we start washing. This step also helps to lubricate the surface of your vehicle for scrubbing, meaning less dips in the soap bucket as you go. If you’re working in direct sunlight, you may need to come back to this step in the middle of scrubbing, so that soap and dirty water do not dry onto your vehicle’s exterior.

TIP: Rinsing Top to Bottom

Rinsing your vehicle at any step in this process should always be done from the top of the vehicle first, down to the bottom last. This will ensure that dirt and other particles are rinsed fully from the surface.

How to Wash a Car | Step Two: Scrub-a-Dub!

Now that we’ve removed loose dirt from the vehicle, it’s time to dip our mitts or brushes into the warm soapy water and get to scrubbing! Make sure nothing you use to scrub with is too abrasive for the paint, or else it may scratch! Be sure to re-dip your brush, first dipping into a bucket of non-soapy water to rinse, then into the soapy water bucket for more cleaning power! This two-bucket system helps to mitigate putting dirt you’ve already scrubbed back onto the vehicle. Remember to work with some speed so that the soap doesn’t dry on to the vehicle!

TIP: Scrub in Focused Sections

When the car starts to get covered in soap and water, it can be hard to tell where you’ve scrubbed and where you’ve yet to. For this problem we recommend focusing on sections of scrubbing at a time, using the body-lines and panels on the vehicle to segment the work visually.

How to Wash a Car | Optional Step: Detailer’s Clay Bar

After scrubbing your vehicle down with the soapy water, and especially after a rinse, running your hand over the car’s surface should yield an overall fairly smooth feel to the panel. That being said, some types of debris, often referred to as fallout, can remain stuck to the surface of your vehicle. Running a detailer’s clay bar over the still-wet surface of your vehicle, before rinsing off, can remove a good amount of this stuck on stuff!

TIP: Keep the Surface Wet

If you’re going to utilize a clay bar, be sure that you’re keeping the vehicle wetted down. Using a clay bar on a dry surface can cause more damage to the paint. A second set of hands may be helpful in this situation, as clay bar application can take some time.

How to Wash a Car | Step Three: Rinse and Dry! 

Working quickly to ensure the soap doesn’t dry, begin rinsing the vehicle off. (Again, working from top to bottom to ensure a thorough rinse.) As you rinse, you may notice some spots where you either missed or needed to scrub harder, which is common – vehicle’s can be messy things! If this is the case, just repeat steps one and two until these so called ‘holidays’ are gone! Once you’re done rinsing, use a large towel or chamois to thoroughly dry the surface.

TIP: Definitely Dry

Failing to dry your vehicle at all will undoubtedly produce some unsightly water spots and may ruin the overall efforts of your having washed the car in the first place. Drying your vehicle off is just as important of a step as scrubbing or wetting it down, even.

How Often to Wash a Car in Myrtle Beach

Truthfully, knowing how often to wash a car is a pretty case-by-case thing. If you drive or park somewhere with a lot of dust, tree-sap, or birds flying around, then a good wash may be needed as often as once a week. For most people around Murrells Inlet however, a car wash is around a twice-per-month activity. If you have more questions about car washing, or would like to discuss any other aspects of vehicle maintenance, feel free to give us a call, so we can get the conversation started!

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