These DIY car wash instructions will help you get your car or truck looking its best.
You can feed quarters into your local spray wash or drive through car wash and hope for the best, but why? There you’re relying on someone else to make sure the pressure washers work, the soap is soapy, and you’re trying to beat the clock while not scratching your car with the hoses.
Automatic car washes might be easier, but they’re not usually better. Brush washes can spread dirt from the last car. Touchless washes just spray the dirt on your car or truck. If you live somewhere that sees winter road grime – almost all of Canada – you already know that a touchless wash won’t get all the dirt. A hand car wash should, but then you’re spending even more money and time.
Skip the line and save your change with a do-it-yourself car wash. Quick and easy, anywhere there’s a hose spigot is the right place to get a hand car wash.
- Difficulty: Easy
- Duration: 20 minutes
- How often: When needed
What You'll Need for a Do It Yourself Car Wash
You’ll need a few basics to get started. From there, the sky is the limit. We have a list of materials for beginners and for more advanced washers. Yes, there are more advanced car washers. Just wait until the clean car bug bites you!
Bucket – one bucket is all you need, though one for clean water and one to rinse is a good idea. We’ll explain more later.
Wash Mitt — or a car wash sponge, either works great for a hand car wash. Whichever you choose, look for one made for washing vehicles. Don’t risk paint swirls or scratches from a scrubber made for dishes.
A mitt and a sponge, or a second sponge reserved for the wheels and tires is also good. Wheels and tires are loaded with grit that you don’t want on your paint.
Car Wash Soap – there are as many car wash soaps as there are cars. They’re almost all good and they are all better than dish soap.
You can also buy a lot of these items in an all-in-one kit to make shopping easier.
Water Hose – if you don’t already have a garden hose, you’ll need one. A 50-foot or longer hose will make your job a lot easier.
Hose Nozzle – you’re also going to need a hose nozzle. One with a locking handle can save your grip. You’re also going to want one with an adjustable spray.
Bug Sponge – Bug and Tar remover can get insects off in a hurry, but can also remove protective wax. A bug sponge helps scrub of those bugs even quicker.
Car Wash Soap
Starting at 8.89 $
Starting at 2.28 $
When it’s time to take your wash to the next level, here are some things you might want:
Pressure Washer – a pressure washer blasts off dirt and grime, then quickly removes soap when you’re done. For your car, a lower-pressure electric unit should be just the ticket. If you want to wash your house too, then go for a higher-pressure gas-powered unit.\
Foam Cannon – a foam cannon covers your vehicle in a thin layer of soap. The foaming soap helps remove loads of dirt and grime before you scrub. So, your scrub is less likely to leave any swirl marks. Plus, the right foaming soap looks cool and smells good too.
Grit Guard – a grit guard drops into your rinsing bucket. It lets any grit that you wash off the car settle to the bottom of the bucket where you won’t catch it in your mitt.
Drying– you don’t have to dry your vehicle, but it will stop water spots and streaks. The classic chamois cloth is a great way to dry your car or truck or a microfibre drying towel. The latest way is using a water blade – a hand-held windshield wiper – or a leaf blower for a spotless finish.
Starting at 155.99 $
How to wash your car
Check the weather first. Not just to make sure it won’t rain in a few hours, but a cloudy day is good too. If you must wash in mid-day, do it in the shade. Hot paint dries quickly, making washing tough.
- Rinse – hose your car or truck down. You want a cool and wet surface, and you want to rinse the worst dirt and grime. Get up in the wheel wells and under the car too, especially if your roads are salted in the winter.
- If you’re using a foam cannon, now’s the time. Between rinse and hand wash. Rinse again after.
- Wash – fill one bucket with clean water, and the other with soapy water. Follow the label to know how much soap you need.
- Dip your mitt in the soapy water and start washing the vehicle. Start with the roof and work down; the worst dirt is at the bottom. If it’s hot, do one or two panels at a time before you rinse so the car doesn’t dry soapy.
- Rinse the mitt often using your clean water bucket, then grab more soapy water. Do the wheels last, so brake dust and dirt aren’t transferred to your paint.
- Rinse off the soap. Clean your mitt with water, and then wash out your buckets.
- Now it’s time to dry, using your chamois, microfibre, or water blade.
Now your car is clean again, at least until the next pollen drop, bird plop, or dirt road. Enjoy it.