Sparkle And Shine: The Right Approach to Car Cleaning

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By Paul

A dirty, neglected car looks rough on the outside and feels dingy on the inside. For instance, a car whose interior hasn’t been swept for months attract dirt and dust and other air impurities, accumulating on the seat covers and cushions. It doesn’t help if you switch on the air conditioning, either. The only solution is to wash your car regularly, and use it in a way that it won’t require cleaning anytime soon.

The Washing Process

Car washing is every car’s dream and every car owner’s nightmare. It requires labor, takes a while to do, and it’s expensive—the cost of water and cleaning materials all add up. But keeping a car clean is a necessity, and car owners would do well to wash their cars every chance they get.

The process revolves around the simple activity of running water over the car and soaping it with car soap and a soft sponge. It ought to remove most of the dirt and grits that had accumulated on the body kit surface, and prepare the car for polishing and waxing. So okay. If you feel like it, you could just take the car to a washing service. But do try to wash the car yourself from time to time—take note of the car washing tips listed below. It’ll save you money in the long run.

A safe bet is to wash your car every other week or so, though you could wash less often if you don’t drive your car every day. Be flexible. Learn to identify when your car needs a wash.

The Polishing Process

Car Polishing

Car polishing is right after washing the car and before applying the wax. Polish is applied to retain the car’s sheen over long periods of time, even years, and to protect the body kit from corrosion. But this depends on the product—some car polishes prevent corrosion while others focus on shine alone. You should polish your car after every wash.

How to apply car polish is similar to how you’d apply car wax. First wash the car and make sure it is clean and free from dirt. Apply the polish on a clean and damp cloth, and then proceed to rub on the car’s body in small circular motions. Work on one section at a time. Later, after letting it stand a couple of minutes, buff the polish using a dry but different towel.

 Car polishing tips

  • Use only 100% cotton cloths to apply and remove the polish. Cotton draws up dirt and grit instead of rubbing it against the finish.
  • Keep your cotton cloths fluffy by washing them with liquid fabric softener.
  • Don’t use too much elbow grease along corners and ridges. The car’s paint job is thinner in these parts.

The Waxing Process

Wax is applied as a protective layer for the car against the elements: dust, rain, snow, UV rays, etc. Putting car wax isn’t like washing your car; a car needs to be waxed only once or twice a year. A five-year-old car that has been treated with wax probably looks better than it did when it was new.

When it’s time to apply the wax, make sure you start with a clean car. Feel the surface exterior with your hand to check that everything feels smooth like glass. Then apply the wax. Use a damp wax sponge, and rub in tiny circles, working one section of the car at a time. Avoid getting wax along the seams and jambs. Let the car stand for a couple of minutes, and afterwards use a soft cloth towel to wipe off the wax residue in the same order it was applied.

Tips of The Trade

Here are some expert tips on how to properly wash a car:

Tip #1: Wash from the top down

This is basic car cleaning knowledge. But it is so essential that it deserves mentioning nonetheless. Soap the car as you would your body in the shower—that is, starting from the top and slowly working your way down. This way you save time and effort by allowing the water and soap suds from the roof to flow down and sheet off the whole car.

 Tip #2: Never use sponge to rinse and wet the car

Just use standard tap water. Sponge soaks anything that touches it: water, soap, dust, and even grits! Rubbing the exterior with a sponge allows it to act like sandpaper against the dirty surface, and next thing you know there’s a big nasty scrape on the hood of the car. A combination of a high-pressure hose and water is still the best option.

Tip #3: Be thorough on the wheels

The wheels and tires are where 90% of the dirt from the road ends up on your car. So, it’s best you use lots of soapy water and do lots of scrubbing along these parts when washing the car. The wheels are the parts of the car closest to the road, and you better take good care of them if you want to take good care of your car.

Tip #4: Know the difference between pre-wash and main wash

During pre-wash, use lots of water and a bit of pre-wash soap, or soap that doesn’t foam or form lots of bubbles. This is to remove grits from the surface of the car and prepare it for the main wash. For the main wash use high quality car shampoo, and then polish afterwards for a shinier look.

 Tip #5: Be careful with the glass

This is going to sound odd but you can use old newspaper to clean the windows; the newsprint acts as polish on dry glass. Never use house glass cleaner on car windows.

Tip #6: Look for a shady spot to wash the car

Some people think cars should be washed in a sunny area where they’ll dry fast. This is wrong. Moisture drying off too quickly will leave spots or watermarks on the surface of the car. When this happens, it’s back to square one. So, look for a shaded area before you wash your car, or even better, do it in the afternoon.


Many young individuals look forward to saving enough money to be able to buy their first car. Yet these same people tend to drift off when it comes to the subject of cleaning the car. Now the above tips about polishing and waxing should at least make washing your car twice as easy.

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