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7 Tips for Creating an Effective At-Home Car Wash for Less

It is easy to just drive thru the car wash, but it can get really expensive. Save some money - and actually relax and have fun - with these tips for washing your ride at home!

In this day and age, anywhere we can save a little money is a good thing. Well, how about skipping that expensive—and often not very effective—automatic car wash for a good ol’ hand washing? It may seem like just another chore you do not have time for, but in addition to being cost-effective, washing the car can actually be a very relaxing time—just have fun!

We are just coming out of a terrible winter, and no doubt many our vehicles are looking like it! And, it will not be long before the pollen starts flying and landing all over our cars. So, getting a car-wash plan in place is a good idea. Start by getting out the hose and gathering your tools:

1. Always use a car-wash product, not household cleaning supplies. Many things, like dishwashing or laundry detergent, are too harsh, and can strip your car of its protective wax. And, if you have neglected to wash your car for a while and have things like bugs, tar deposits or rubber on your car, you may want to try a product like a bug-and-tar remover. A little goes a long way, by the way; what may seem like an unnecessary expense will provide you with numerous, safe washes for less than the cost of one trip thru the automatic wash.

2. Use a large, soft natural sponge or a lamb’s wool mitt to wash the car; use a soft, non-abrasive cloth to get tough spots.

3. Don’t use the same sponge/cloth to wash the car body and the wheels/tires. The grit and grime that you could be washing off of your tires and wheels could damage your car’s finish. And, if you choose to use a wheel cleaning product, be sure that it is safe for YOUR vehicle! Some stronger tire formulas can actually cause damage to the clear on some cars.

4. Wash your car when the body is cool to decrease the likelihood of spots and deposits forming as soap and water dries on your car.

5. It is best to move the sponge/cloth lengthwise, not in circles. Washing the car with a circle pattern can actually create “swirl marks” on your car—small scratches that may be light, but noticeable.

6. Before you wash, rinse the car completely; think of it as a pre-soak, to loosen dirt that could potentially cause scratching. As you wash, keep your sponge/cloth sudsy, and wash one section of the car at a time, rinsing as you go. Work from the top-down, so you are not washing dirt onto clean sections! Rinse by simply letting water from your hose run from the top of the section down. And, don't forget to keep rinsing your sponge/cloth! Use a separate bucket of water for this rinse.

7. When finished, if you do not want watermarks, you will need to dry the car by hand. Use a chamois towel, to keep from scratching the finish. Blot the water off instead of rubbing, again to protect the surface from scratches. Some people like to use a squeegee, but if you choose to do this, be sure you use a squeegee that is properly pliable and soft, and watch for any dirt—if it gets caught in your squeegee strokes, it can cause those unwanted scratches.

What makes car washing the most simple, effective and less-likely to cause damage from dirt? Regular washing! If you are one of those people (like myself!) who tends to wait until they cannot remember exactly what color their car used to be before tackling the dust, dirt and pollen, vow to get it in gear this year (I have). Your car’s finish will breathe a sigh of relief, and washing the car will be less of a chore if you are basically just giving your car its regular rinsing, not trying to take off layers of dirt and grime—plus, just think of how much better you’ll feel, rolling down the street in your shiny ride!

Need some ideas on how to keep the INSIDE of your vehicle food-free? Check out these tips from TorqueNews!

Image: Wikimedia Commons