How to Wash a Car
Darren's tips for better results

How to wash a car is as much about "how to do it" as it is "what to use to do it". From choosing the best car wash shampoo to proper car washing techniques.

At the end of the day the real goal is to end up with a cleaner car than its current state of filth!

I am amazed at how many people continue to get this very basic requirement of car care completely wrong. From using harsh detergents to outdated "tools" of drying.

A subject that seems as mundane of how to wash a car can appear, there is much more to it than a casual observation would suggest.

"Whether you look for excuses to wash your car or consider car washing a necessary evil, I am going to show you better products and better tools, for better results."

how to wash a car tips

How to wash a car:
Darren's 3 Most Important Tips

Pick any subject in life and you will know that there are always more than a single way to get from point A to point B. Washing your car is no exception.

As many people as you are willing to ask will deliver just as many opinions from what is the best car wash soap to what is the safest way to dry your car.

Having observed as well as trained countless people on proper detailing techniques, I find some common mistakes people make in the car washing process that has helped me create the top 3 tips of how of wash a car.

These tips are less about technique and more about the actual car washing "tools" that I recommend so you can become more efficient, more effective, and safer while producing better results.

Best Car Wash Soap

I bet you would rather have the best car wash soap rather than just good car wash soap. But everyone has a different opinion as to what makes the best, truly the best.

I start with choosing a top rated car wash soap as this falls under my list of important tips to washing your car. And with that, I will list out my recommendations for what I consider the best car wash shampoo:

  • A product that will not damage my paint
  • A product that has plenty of "lubricants" for safer washing
  • A product that has some added ingredients to enhance the shine and add additional "protection"
  • The latest in "ceramic technology"
  • Formulated using what is referred to as ceramic technology that has to do with polymers that are used for protecting your cars paint surface
  • Also formulated using SiO2 technology (this simply refers to the hydrophobic characteristics of products in creating a super water-beading effect. Hydrophobic literally means "water fearing")
  • Based on who you ask, will deliver varying opinions as to the exact characteristics of both the SiO2 and ceramic attributes

Darren's Note: I am neither a chemist or a formulator. I can only speak from first hand experience. And my first hand experience tells me that there exist many options when it comes to a quality car wash shampoo. This version from Turtle Wax is simply one of countless options that exist. But with that said, this products meets the demands I put onto a dedicated car wash soap.

Best Car Washing Mitt

Next on my list is the best car washing mitt. I have seen endless examples as to what people will use to wash their cars. From dish towels to sponges; I think I have seen it all.

But not all options represent good options when it comes to how to wash a car. Once again I have metrics of demands that must be met for me when it comes to the best car washing sponge of mitt:

  • As gentle on the paint as possible
  • Can be easily rinsed out
  • Can be used many times for many car washings
  • You don't have to have two wash mitts, but I prefer having two wash mitts that serve different purposes. I keep one for "dirtier" work, and the other for "cleaner" work.  (The "cleaner" one is for cleaning more sensitive areas of my car like the paint itself, while reserving the second wash mitt for dirtier work like wheels and door jambs)
  • These are made of micro-fiber constructed into a very useful and safe wash mitt that removes dirt in the safest manner that I have seen in the many forms of wash sponges or mitts
  • Will last for years of use

Car Washing Bucket

If you have decided on washing your car yourself, then you will certainly need a wash bucket. Below you can see one of the many wash buckets

Not all buckets are created equal. While you aren't required to over-think your choice in a car washing bucket, this version has many winning features to it:

  • Comes with a Grit Guard insert that helps separate heavy dirt particles by settling below the insert that helps prevent these particles from being re-introduced back onto your car when you rinse out your wash mitt
  • Comes with a unique ring/lid system of secure closure
  • 5 gallon size for plenty of wash water and room to work your wash mitt with

Car Drying Cloth

I am amazed at how many people I find that still default to the bath towel of kitchen towel method of drying their car off. While these towels you find so useful in your house or in the bathroom due to being 100% cotton and super soft feeling on your skin, are such the wrong choice when it comes to drying off your car safely and effectively.

  • As safe as safe can get when it comes to drying your car off after washing
  • How to dry your car is as important as how to wash your car
  • Specifically the right "tool" for drying your car off
  • Super absorbent (Instead of pushing the water around like your bath towel tends to do at the beginning; this drying cloth is super absorbents)
  • Drys without scratching
  • Drys without leaving the endless annoying lint left behind by your household towels or cloths

Car Washing Nozzle

This might seem like a silly add-on, but when it comes to washing your car, despite the satisfaction that comes at the end of the process, the process itself will quickly become more of a burden than a wanted delight.

For this reason I think every part of the how to wash your car process should be strategized for maximum efficiency and results...including your choice in a proper hose nozzle.

Gilmour 857302-1001 Full Size Zinc Pistol Grip Nozzle with Threaded Front, Silver

  • I have tried countless hose nozzles and I continue to default to this very basic, but user-friendly hose nozzle
  • Unlike plastic versions that seem "safer" or a better choice when it comes to washing your car, this metal version will not break like many of the plastic ones I have tried
  • I really like the instant control over the spray pattern with a simple squeeze of the trigger (many people neglect to think about this part of the car washing process. There are times when I want a concentrated stream of water and then times when I want a gentle spray pattern. I don't want to have to control this with having to use both hands when I can control this simply with a squeeze of a single hand)
  • Having a nozzle means the water is being contained when I do not need water in the moment (I am still amazed at how many people wash their cars with no nozzle attached and allow water to run continuously out the end of the hose, thus wasting gallons of water)

How to Wash a Car:
Going from good to better

turtle wax hybrid car waxes

I am going to add some additional car washing tips taken from the world of professional detailing that might be completely unknown to many of you reading this.

The world of cosmetic car care is vast, deep, and filled with countless products. The innovation constantly put into this vast subject is both the good news and bad news!

Good news as it delivers us car owners with more and more options.

Bad news as we may find ourselves overwhelmed with the countless options.

Car Washing Drying Aid

One of the innovations to this industry is what has been labeled as drying aids. These can range in many versions, made by many companies.

Since I have recommend the Turtle Wax car wash, i am also going to recommend their form of drying aid.

This is a way to maximize the efforts you will already be putting into washing your car. Now with one additional product and a little extra effort, you can leverage your time and energy into producing even better results and protection for your car.

Turtle Wax 53410 Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Wet Wax-26 Fl Oz

  • Spray directly onto paint surface once you have washed and rinsed your car, but before drying it
  • One or two sprays per panel is all that is needed
  • Spray each wet section, then dry as normal
  • Adds additional shine and protection above what the dedicated car wash will provide
  • An easy way to extend the life of any base coat of car wax you have put on your car
  • Safe and effective on all materials of your car: paint, glass, plastic trim, rubber moldings, gaskets, etc. (not intended for tires, but can be used on yor car wheels)

How to Wash a Car:
The super-simple approach

Often in life we want to really "dumb things down" in an effort to over-simplify our world. I completely get this factor and employ it in many areas of my life.

While you were interested enough in how to wash your car, you may be even mre interested in a way to keep things even more long as you understand the pros and cons of this decision.

Enter the Chemical Guy's car washing kit.

Chemical Guy's Car Washing Kit

Chemical Guys HOL132 Best Car Wash Bucket Kit with Dirt Trap, 16 fl. oz (11 Items)

  • Everything needed to wash your car; including washing your car wheels
  • All quality products perfectly suited to any car owner or driveway detailer
  • Bundles are a great way to be economical
  • Bundles allow you to test product you may otherwise be unwilling to test if required to by them individually
  • A simple kit to make your life more simple, not more complex

Darren's Professional Tips: Chemical Guys has an extensive line-up of products and so far everything I have tried has proved to deliver great results ( I do take issue with their need to use embellished labeling and marketing, but nonetheless, I have had very good experience with all their products I have tried). When it comes to car washing despite the endless chatter of opinions, you really don't have to over-think it.

How to Wash a Car Summary

washing car with meguiars water magnet

The heated debate of how to wash a car, car washing products, doing it yourself, etc., etc. will rage on forever! Visiting any car or detail forum will quickly overwhelm most of you.

You will find you are sucked into "expert" opinions regarding techniques and products to the point of confusion as to what to do next. Sometimes a voice of reason needs to be applied that will suit the 95% of us out there who want to keep things simple.

Simply put; you don't have unrealistic expectations, you just want to know what products will provide quality results without breaking the bank, or breaking your back!

So pick and choose among my car washing tips that come from decades of both personal and professional experience!

I hope this has helped you come to some winning conclusions in your corner of the world!


Darren Priest