Washing your car every two weeks not only helps it look its best, but also protects the exterior from excessive wear and tear that can affect its performance. Here are a few tips on choosing the right car wash soap and properly washing your car on your own.
Types of Car Wash Soap
Picking a car wash soap depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. You can get a soap that’s designed for overall maintenance or pick one that targets specific stains, like mud or—sorry for the imagery—bugs.
Car wash soaps vary in price, but you don’t have to spend much to get a quality product. The problem with picking a very cheap soap, however, is that it may not contain waxes and protectants. Cheap soap can also leave residue on your vehicle after you rinse it.
Most car wash services use car shampoo because it slides off the vehicle easier at the rinse stage. Shampoos are diluted at a different ratio than soaps, so you don’t need to use as much.
A regular car wash soap will still get the job done, but do some research to make sure you don’t get a product that creates extra work for you.
If you want to be extra thorough, start with a snow foam wash. Snow foam is a pre-wash treatment that you can apply all over your vehicle before doing a hand wash with regular car wash soap or shampoo.
Don’t use any soap on your car that’s not formulated specifically for use on vehicle paint. Dish soap, for example, tends to be very abrasive and can strip away a vehicle’s protective topcoat.
Car Wash Tools
Washing Your Car
Next, follow these steps to hand-wash your vehicle:
- Rinse your vehicle with your hose or pressure washer.
- If you’re using a foam wash, load it into the foam cannon and spray it all over the car.
- Fill one bucket with clean water and the other with water mixed with your car wash soap. Follow the soap-to-water ratio indicated on the bottle.
- Dip your mitt into the soapy water and start washing your vehicle, scrubbing the surface using circular motions. Start on the roof and work your way Leave the wheels for last.
- Rinse the mitt often in your water bucket.
- Rinse off all the soap with your hose or pressure washer.
- Dry your vehicle with a microfibre towel or water blade.
After you’ve washed your vehicle, you can continue with a full detail—a top-to-bottom, exterior-and-interior clean that produces that new-car smell and feel, no matter how old the vehicle.
Always use products designed for the materials you’re applying them to, such as glass cleaner for windows and leather wipes for leather seats and surfaces. Keep your car smelling fresh between detailing sessions with an air freshener.
Check out this article for more tips on washing and detailing your vehicle.
Residential Car Washing
If you’re planning to wash your car on your own property instead of at a DIY car wash station, be sure to check your local bylaws first. In many places, it’s illegal to allow substances such as oil and car wash soap into the sewer system.
With the right products and a bit of patience, you can give your car a good deep clean on your own. If you have any questions about washing your vehicle and how to pick the best soap for your needs, visit your local NAPA Auto Parts store to speak with an expert.