How to Wash Your Car Better and Keep it Clean Longer

Christian Petterson

November 3, 2023

car washing process



Each of us has to go through this process and different people choose various routes when it comes to washing cars


Some like to do it by hand, while others prefer to leave the car at a car wash or go through an automatic one to save time. 


Different options are also suitable for different levels of cleaning. 


Do you want your car to be just sprinkled with water to wash off last night's rain, or do you want it to be cleaned inside and out? 


In this article, we will explore all the options to clean your car, the best way to wash a car, give you car care tips, and even provide a small tutorial on how to wash your car

7 Reasons Why it’s Important to Clean Your Car

There are not just aesthetic but safety reasons to make sure your car is in its best shape and doesn’t accumulate too much dust and dirt. 


Let us give you 7 main reasons why you need to clean your car on a regular basis. 


  • Enhances the value of your car

Yes, when your car is clean and looks like you take care of it, you can put a much higher price when you decide to sell it someday. 


  • Prolongs its lifespan

That’s right! When you take good care of your vehicle and have routine visits to the car wash, then you increase its chances to serve you longer. 


  • Constitutes safer driving 

When the car is dirty, it’s not unpleasant, but can be downright dangerous, as dirt and dust can build up in the nooks and crannies of the car, hindering its performance. 


  • Provides slick look 

For those of you who value their image and want to create a great and positive impression, make sure you wash a car frequently. 


  • Enhances the level of comfort 

Being comfortable in the car is highly important, especially for those long drives. Cleaning cars at least once or twice a month will ensure that! 


  • Boosts your health

Along with dirt and crumbs come the germs and bacteria, which can be a hit to your health and cause all sorts of problems, like allergic reactions and a weaker immune system. 


  • Prevents damages 

There are many damages that come from dirty exteriors, like scratches and fainting paintwork. Clutter and sticky spills also cause damage to the interior, i.e. stains and wear and tear. 

Preventive measures

Before we get into detail on how to clean a car and the best ways to do so, along with how often it needs to be done, let us give you tips on how to prevent, to some degree, dust and dirt build-up on your car and any exterior damages associated with weather conditions. 


You might think that if you park it in the garage, then you are safe from all the problems that come with the weather. 


However, keep in mind, that weather is not the only enemy here, and clutter in the garage, kids running around, your dog trying to open the car door and even your uncareful moves can lead to scratches and dents on your vehicle. 


And isn’t the paintwork just a drag to deal with? 


When it comes to preventive and maintenance measures, car covers are the best way to go, to make sure you don’t waste time, water and money on washing cars too often. 

Car covers are a great option for cars parked both indoors and outdoors and will make sure to keep your car safe and clean, from all sorts of elements thrown its way, like weather conditions, animal scratches, as well as the clutter in the garage. 


Here is an excellent example of a great cover that will keep your vehicle from getting damaged indoors. 


Pro tip: Make sure the cover is made of a breathable material, so there is no humidity trapped under it, as it can make significant damage to the paintwork. 



Soft, elastic and high-quality material



Process of Cleaning Cars

By now you already know how important it is to clean your car regularly. However, you might have a question: What is the best way to clean a car? 


Do you need to give it a quick rinse every week and have a major hand car wash once a month? 


Let’s clarify it all, shall we? 


We can devise the process of washing cars into 3 main categories: 

  • Quick wash-&-go
  • Pro cleaning
  • Full-on car wash extravaganza. 

Let’s discuss each in more detail. 

Quick wash-&-go

In case you decide that a quick rinse is what you need, then let’s get right to it. 


Keep in mind, that even for a quick wash, you still need to free up an hour or so of your time, so make sure that your car sparkle after you are finished. 


Items to acquire 


Here is a list of items you will need for the quick wash-&-go before we can get into the washing process itself. 


  • A garden hose with pressure or spray gun, or a pressure-washer
  • 2 buckets - one with plain and the other with soapy water
  • Car shampoo 
  • Wash glove, mitt or towel
  • Drying towel, preferably made of microfiber. 


As to the conditions of the washing process, be sure to park in the shade, as the sun can dry up the shampoo faster than you want it to. 


Pro tip: Take a look at the weather forecast. If there are only blue skies ahead, then set a date for the car wash

Steps to follow


       1. Rince 

No matter if you have been driving on the city roads, or were a part of the off-roading over the weekend, the first rinse is a must. 


You get all the dust, debris, and dirt (if any) off your car, and prepare the surface for the soapy water to follow. 


Now take your device - the garden hose, or the pressure-washer and start rinsing your car, in the direction of top to bottom. 


Make sure you get into the alloy wheels, wheel caps, and panel gaps. 


Keep in mind that the more dirt and dust you remove now, the less effort you will need to put into the washing process later. 

      2. Wash 


Now that you have removed all the bigger stains and dirt/dust from the car’s surface, it’s time to get it nice and bubbly. 

Take the 2 buckets we have mentioned, and fill them both with fresh and clean water, adding your preferred car shampoo to one of them. 

Pro tip: Don’t use any other soaps, like dishwashing liquid or detergent. They might be more aggressive, and do some damage to your paintwork.  


Get the washing cloth, towel, mitt or glove, whatever you have, dip it in the soapy water and start washing the car. 


As in the case of rinsing, here too, start from the top and make your way down.


Make side to side motions, no need to push. 



Pro tip: Another important thing to remember, is not to do any circular motions, as you have a better chance of leaving marks and smears after drying. 


You might need to wash, rinse and repeat as needed since some stains are just harder to get off.


Plus repeating the process many times will ensure that you are not rubbing the dirt on the surface, and risking scratching your car in the process. 


When you need to apply another coat of shampoo, make sure to rinse the wash mitt/towel/glove, before you go back to the shampooed water. 


This way you ensure there is no dirt or small bits left on the washcloth. 

Pro tip: Avoid using sponges when washing cars, as it might result in dirt particles being stuck in it, and micro-scratching your paintwork.

     3. Rinse and Dry


When you are done washing your car and think you got all the stains and dirt out, rinse it again, with the pressure washer or the hose with the spray gun from top to bottom.


As soon as you are completely sure that all the residue of shampoo is done from the paintwork, it’s time to start drying your car. 


You can either use circular motions or even pat dry - you won’t go wrong with either. 

However, remember to switch directions of the circular motions, overlapping the surface each time, to make sure there are no smears and smudges. 


You might think that leaving it to air-dry is an option, but unless you want to see water stains on your car, you need to properly dry it. 


It’s time to grab the drying towel, highly recommended that it’s made of microfiber, and start drying. 


Pro tip: Using microfiber will increase the chances of a shinier final look, rather than leaving stains and fibre fragments on the paintwork, like an old t-shirt or cotton towel, can.  


The whole process should take about an hour, so if you are in need of a quick fix, this option is surely for you.

Pro Cleaning

Now let’s move on to a more elaborate process, that is more useful for a monthly washing cars procedure.


However, it doesn’t have to be once a month, this process can be done also once a week if you have the time and are willing to put in more effort. 


You can also perform the Pro cleaning cars method on a needed basis. Some of us are just messier, and if you have kids, that can also factor into the mess inside the vehicle.   


This process is longer, and will take you another extra two hours or so. Keep in mind that you need to perform the quick wash and go steps, before starting the Pro Cleaning.  

Items to acquire 



Bear in mind, that this process offers a deeper cleaning that includes windows, and the interior of your car. 


Naturally, you will need more items, and here is a list of things to get and have at hand, before venturing on the Pro Cleaning. 


  • Small vacuum cleaner or a brush
  • Cleaning cloths, preferably microfiber 
  • Cleaning products for glass and interior.


You can use either special cleaning products for the vehicle’s interior and windows, or just the window cleaner you have at home. 


Steps to follow


After you have successfully completed the first 3 steps in the previous washing cars process, i.e. the “quick wash-&-go”, you are ready to proceed to the following 3 steps. 


     4. Cleaning the glass from the outside


The glass surfaces on your car are in the second place after your paintwork. Giving it a  proper cleaning is a paramount job if you want to have safe and easy driving. 


Now you may think, well I hosed down my entire car, why do I need to pay special attention to the windows and glass? 


Well, you are right, the water might have cleaned some dirt and dust, but you need to use special products to make sure you can see well and the windows are well cleaned, free of glairs and smears. 


In order to do so, you need to take the microfiber cloth and the cleaning product.


You can start either from the side windows or the windshield, dealer’s choice here. 


However, make sure to clean all the glass surfaces of your car from all sides. 


While you are at it, give a nice clean to your mirrors as well. If you have a water repellent, spray it after drying. 


     5. Cleaning the glass from the inside


It’s time now to get into the vehicle and give a nice cleaning to the windows from the inside as well. 


Smudges, fingerprints and smears can be a real doozy, and even empire your visibility, if you are driving in bad weather conditions. 


If you have kids, add the greasy fingerprints, food and drink residue and even paint and crayon stains. 


Repeat the previous steps, only this time from the inside. Spray the windows and front and rear shields with the cleaning product, and wipe it clean with the microfiber cloth. 

     6. Cleaning the interior


Now that you have all the windows and back and front windshields clean from the inside as well, it’s time to pay some attention to other parts of the interior, like the seats, the floor and the carpets, if you have any. 


This step shouldn’t be done very frequently, and quite frankly, you probably won’t allocate enough time for this step each time you wash your car. 


But keep in mind, that the more you stay on top of the cleaning, the less time you will spend on it each time. 


Even if you have a habit of cleaning out your car from the trash of the day, that will surely be a great help in keeping it clean. 


Now you need to take your internal cleaning products and the cloth, and start cleaning all the plastic, vinyl and leather surfaces. 


Pro tip: Do not use the products with a gloss finish, as the fingerprints are more visible. Plus, don’t use the product on the wheel, pedals and gear stick.  


Before you go to the seats, make sure you brush off all the crumbs and other litter. 


Remove the mats, and give them a quick brush. Do so far away from the car, to avoid dust damaging your newly washed outer surface. 


Before reattaching the mats, make sure to clean the doors from the inside. 

Full-on car wash extravaganza

We have approached our final and the most intense cleaning process - the full-on car wash extravaganza. You can even call it a self wash car wash, as you will have outstanding results in the end.  

Items to acquire 


This last step of cleaning is required much less frequently, and some people never get around to it. 


However, true car enthusiasts know how important it is to complete this step from time to time in order to keep the car in pristine condition. 


As this step is an extra mile when it comes to washing cars, there are some additional items you will need to get. Many of you may have never heard of them, whereas some of you have a stock in the garage. 


You will need to use some of the items from the previous steps, like the bucket with car shampoo, the small vacuum cleaner with a brush, as well as the cleaning microfiber cloths.


However, in addition to those, you will also need to acquire the following items. 


  • Clay bar with its lubricant
  • Car wax
  • Car polish
  • Cleaner for allow wheels 

Steps to follow


In order to follow the steps of this process, make sure you have repeated all the steps of both car cleaning processes above. 

     7. Cleaning the wheels


Now, we have cleaned the wheels from the mud and dirt before, when cleaning the body. 


However, it’s important to give them special attention, as there is surely some pieces of dirt and dust left, that are too stubborn to get out but spoil the overall “as good as new” look of your car. 


There are many alloy wheel cleaners available in shops, from mild to extreme cleaning purposes. 


Pick the one that suits you best and get to it. 


Spray the cleaner evenly on the wheels, so the product covers the inner and outer parts of the wheel. 


Then you need to go get the buckeye with the car shampoo and a brush or a cleaning cloth. Dip the cleaning tool in the bucket and start scrubbing the wheels, to get rid of every shred of dirt. 


Make sure you clean it from all sides, including the back, tires valves and wheel nuts. 

As soon as you think everything is clean, and stubborn dirt particles are loose, it’s time to give them a proper rinse. 


Once you are done with one wheel, move on to the next, till you go through all four. 


You can also apply a coat of protective tire foam, for a perfect finish. 


You can apply it on either dry or wet tires. All you need to do is spray the foam, and it will take care of the rest! 


  8. Detailing

  9. Wax and Polish

  10. Cleaning the seats and mats

  11. Pumping the bonnet 

Clean Car Maintenance

Now that you know exactly how to have a showroom-shine, you want to preserve this state of your car for as long as possible. 


Obviously, frequent cleans will be a great help, but you also want to protect your car from elements, that you can’t control, like the weather for example. 


In order to protect your car parked outside, and maintain that perfect shine, you can use a car cover. 


Rain, snow, and intense UV rays can do significant damage to your car’s overall state and its paintwork in particular. 

When choosing one, make sure that it’s made of highly dense material, thus highly water and UV resistant, yet it needs to be breathable. Please also explore different types of car covers for outdoor protection. 


If your cover is not breathable, it will trap moisture and humidity on your car’s paint, contributing to rust, damages to paintwork, among other things. 


Here is a great product that will keep your car safe and sound in all weather conditions.




Dustproof, waterproof, sunproof, and rainproof


Another great way to prevent damage to your car’s interior this time is to keep your floors protected. 


Here is when the car mats come in handy. 


There are many different mats out there, made of rubber, which is more widespread, or carpet, that give you a more cosy feel. 


In case you are feeling particularly posh, or want to customize your car’s interior look, you can order leather ones, that will protect your car’s and boot’s floor from dust, dirt, crumbs and other harmful elements that your shoes might drag in. For more tips on keeping your car in great condition during different seasons, check out our guide.

Tips Recap

Pro tip: Take a look at the weather forecast. If there are only blue skies ahead, then set a date for the car wash


Pro Tip: Avoid direct sunlight when washing a car. It might result in faster drying, which might leave shampoo stains on the paintwork. 


Pro tip: Don’t use any other soaps, like dishwashing liquid or detergent. They might be more aggressive, and do some damage to your paintwork.  


Pro tip: Do not do any circular motions during shampooing, as you have a better chance of leaving marks and smears after drying. 


Pro tip: Avoid using sponges when washing cars, as it might result in dirt particles being stuck in it, and micro-scratching your paintwork. 


Pro tip: Using microfiber will increase the chances of a shinier final look, rather than leaving stains and fibre fragments on the paintwork, like an old t-shirt or cotton towel, can.  


Pro tip: Do not use the products with a gloss finish, as the fingerprints are more visible. Plus, don’t use the product on the wheel, pedals and gearstick.  


Pro Tip: Do not wash your car on the grass or in the backyard. The cleaning products contain chemicals, that can be dangerous to kids, pats and soil.  


Maintenance tips


Pro Tip: Use a car cover to keep your car clean and shiny for both indoor and outdoor storage. They are also great for either short or long-term use. 


Pro tip: Make sure the cover is made of a breathable material, so there is no humidity trapped under it, as it can make significant damage to the paintwork. 


Pro Tip: Have a garbage bag in your car, and collect the small waste there. You can then throw it away as soon as it’s full, keeping your car free of clutter. 


As you can see car cleaning and maintenance are crucial in keeping your car safe and at the top of its game for a longer time. 


If you take care of your car regularly and try to keep it clean, when you can with preventive measures, you will spend less and less time on the cleaning process itself. 


Buy the products you need and pay more attention to preventive and maintenance, rather than spend hours cleaning and polishing your car every weekend. 


Plus, a clean car says a lot about you as a person and a driver. After all neat people are more appealing. 


Keep it clean and drive safe!

Car Wash FAQ

The frequency of car washing depends on factors like your location, weather conditions, and how often you use your car. A general guideline is to give your car a quick rinse every week and a more thorough wash once a month. However, adjust the frequency based on your specific needs.

It's best to use a dedicated car shampoo for washing your car. Dishwashing soap or detergent can be harsh on your car's paintwork and may cause damage.

To maintain your car's interior cleanliness, consider using car mats to protect the floors, regularly clean out trash, and use cleaning products designed for car interiors. Avoid using gloss-finish products on surfaces you touch frequently, like the steering wheel and gear stick.

Car covers help protect your car from various elements like rain, snow, UV rays, and dirt. They can extend the life of your paintwork and keep your car looking clean. Make sure to choose a breathable cover to prevent moisture buildup.

Use a specialized alloy wheel cleaner to remove stubborn dirt and brake dust from your wheels. Scrub all parts of the wheels, including the back and wheel nuts. After cleaning, you can apply a protective tire foam for a polished finish.

It's not advisable to wash your car on the grass or in the backyard, as cleaning products contain chemicals that can be harmful to children, pets, and the soil. It's better to wash your car on a driveway or a suitable paved area.

Keeping your car clean, well-maintained, and regularly washed can enhance its resale value. Potential buyers are more likely to pay a higher price for a well-cared-for vehicle.

If you have kids, regularly clean the car's interior to remove smudges, food and drink residues, and other messes. Having car mats, seat covers, and a garbage bag in your car can help you maintain a clean interior.