Whitworth's Automotive Polishing

The Ultimate Guide To Washing Your Car

The Ultimate Guide To Washing Your Car

Have you been doing it wrong this whole time..?

So you’ve just finished your MASSIVE “To Do” list, finally sit down, and you remember… the car hasn’t been washed in ages.
We are all time poor. We’re all in a rush. Rushing to work. Rushing home. When you finally get some time to relax the last thing you feel like doing is washing your car.
But sadly, like so many other chores, it has to be done.

Is the easiest ways to wash your car necessarily right? Have you been washing it wrong this whole time?

What’s the best way to wash your car and what are deadliest for your car’s paintwork?

We’ll go through all the do’s and don’ts in this ultimate car washing guide put together by the experts.

So what are we going to talk about?

Common car wash time ‘savers’ that actually spell disaster.

Top 4 car washing blunders that you may not be aware of.

How often should you wash your car?
Does the type of car you have affect how you wash it?
We share the best method to wash your car.
best OK, first off the rank – common car wash time ‘savers’ that actually spell disaster
So you don’t have any time to wash your car by hand so off you go to get someone else to do it.
Or maybe not even a person – a machine.
This is ok right…?? Um, no. So wrong it makes us cringe.
Please read ahead and let me explain…

Lazer washing machines

Have you ever seen a relatively new car driving around and it’s already starting to fade?
Fade marks that seem to go in lines up the car bonnet? Well that’s from lazer wash jets.
The water in lazer washes is so concentrated in chemicals that it’s literally burning through the layers of your paint.
Yep, for real.
It needs to be this concentrated so it can remove the dirt on your car all in one go. Then you will emerge a happy customer at the other end.
Or maybe not.

Sadly, in a few months your paint will fade and you have no idea why.

My guess is you’ll probably not be so happy then.

“Fade marks that seem to go in lines up the car bonnet? Well that’s from lazer wash jets.”

Flap style washing machines

These are a hit with the kids – am I right?? The joy on their little faces as the car gets hammered by flaps removing and spraying all the dirt off.

You then come out the other end feeling liberated you saved all that time and drive off into the horizon.
Let me break it to you gently – your car’s paintwork now hates you.
OK, that wasn’t so gently.
But let me explain…

For a start the chemicals in the water are similar to lazer washing machines. So again, eating through the paintwork to try and remove dirt in one go.

Now let’s talk about the giant flaps. These are used for all the cars that come through the machine. So this will definitely without a shadow of a doubt, scratch the heck out of your paint.

This is especially the case for black cars. Even a microfiber cloth can scratch a car (seriously), imagine what a giant fabric wet flap is doing?

My guess is nothing positive.
Then you are left to air dry.

Air drying is not ideal after these washes for a couple of reasons. For a start letting the water settle can cause etching. The water also contains harsh chemicals we also mentioned earlier.

This would be like using coke as a mouth wash. Not the best laid plan.

“Let me break it to you gently – your car’s paintwork now hates you.”

Hand washes at shopping centres

So you think to yourself – if I can’t wash it then its OK for five dudes to all do it at the same time, right? Not exactly.

For a start, when you go to hand washes at shopping centres they re-use their cloths and sponges.
So even if they change the water (which I wouldn’t guarantee it happens that often) then their sponges will potentially still have someone else’s dirt and sand all over it.

What if you are bringing your car in right after a massive 4WD that had sand and dirt all over it and you are none the wiser? Then all that dirt, that’s not even from your car, will cause micro-scratching and swirl marks.

Dulling the paint and reducing its shine.
Maybe not noticeably the first time, but my bet it will be after a few times. Our Master Polisher, Lee Whitworth, would notice a difference the first time I guarantee it!

“Hand washes at shopping centres re-use their cloths and sponges.”

Top 4 car washing blunders that you may not be aware of…
  1. Don’t let water settle on the car.If you park a car under a sprinkler (with especially bore water) this can spell disaster. When the water dries it leaves sediment behind. This can leave water etching on the paint. Water etching can only be polished off. Bore water is even worse. This can stain the car’s paint and again, will need to be polished off.

  2. Don’t swirl the sponge in the bucket you use to wash your car. This will only stir up the sand and dirt and you will then coat the sponge. If you then use the sponge to wash the car all it will achieve is scratching the paint work.

  3. Don’t use harsh sponges or scourers to wash the car or wheels.Most wheel covers are only plastic so any harsh scourers will remove the sprayed on paint. Again, this will just cause scratching.

  4. Best to use a micro-fibre sponge to wash the whole car. Keep one specifically for wheels as brake dust build up is more of a dirtier task. The wheel sponge ideally should be replaced after every few washes if you wash regularly, or every time if you wash less frequently and there’s a lot of build up.

How often should you wash your car?

Before we get into the ‘how’ lets start with the basics: frequency.

So if you were to take a guess – how often should you wash your car? Once a week? Fortnightly? Monthly? Yearly?

Honestly, all these answers could be correct. If your daily drive is kept outside and used every day then weekly would be the best bet.

However if you own a classic car that is kept indoors then an 6 monthly wash should be plenty.

Have a look at our table below to see where your car sits in the frequency scale.

Type of car Environment Wash frequency
Daily drive / family car
Kept Outside
Once a week
Daily drive /family car
Kept inside
Once a fortnight
Weekend drive
Kept Outside
Once a fortnight
Weekend drive
Kept Inside
Once a month
Classic car (that is driven)
Kept Outside (incl. car port)
Every 2 months
Classic car (rarely driven)
Kept Outside (incl. car port)
Every 3-4 months
Classic car (that is driven)
Kept inside
Every 4 months
Classic car (rarely driven)
Kept inside
Every 6 months

“A classic car that is kept indoors then an 6 monthly wash should be plenty.”

Does the type of car you have affect how you wash it?
Well, yes and no. If you have a daily drive that is kept outside then this will require a bit more of a (gentle) scrub.
You can put this car on the lawn, give it a good hose down to loosen up any dirt and then use our two bucket technique (more on this later) to get it nice and clean.

However, if you own a classic car, then hosing it down is not advisable.

All that water will settle into the cracks and crevasses potentially being a risk to cause rusting later on.
As you are probably not taking a classic car 4WDing then all the car will have is a fine layer of dust to remove.

This can be done with a gentle cleaning solution (or even just water) in a spray bottle. Spray the car and wipe over with a micro-fibre cloth.

No need to drench the car. This is a time saver as well.

“If you own a classic car, then hosing it down is not advisable.”
Best method to wash your car – “Two bucket technique”
The two bucket method is the best way to wash your car without causing any damage to the car’s paint.

If you don’t use two buckets (one for soapy water and the other for clean water) then you are just covering your car in dirty water that has the potential to cause micro-scratching to the paintwork.

How to do the “two bucket washing system”:

  1. Rinse the car down with hose to remove loose particles. Never let the water dry on the car.

  2. Get two large buckets with gritt guards.

  3. Fill one with PH neutral shampoo and warm water. The other with just water.
  4. With a micro fibre sponge dip it into the soapy bucket and wash the car from the top down. After every panel, rinse the car with the hose. Rinse the sponge in the clean water bucket then back into the soapy water and wash another panel and repeat. This will reduce micro-scratching and swirl marks.

  5. Final rinse off with hose.

  6. Chamois dry.

This is especially important if you have a black car. The darker the car the more likely all imperfections in the paint will show up with improper care and washing.

What about when you can’t wash it off?

Over time and just driving you car around will build up a layer of road contamination.

This layer of grit can’t be removed with a bucket and sponge and will need to be polished off annually.

You will need to book in your annual polish and shine up with us to remove that road contamination and grime. This is referred to as our “Shine-Up” Polish.
It will make the car super shiny due to removing that layer of contamination and bring back the shine to the paintwork.

So there you have it folks. The do’s and don’t of washing your car.

Remember the car’s paint is the first sign that gives away the age of the car. So it needs to be looked after. Regular cleaning is an important job, even if its not that enjoyable.

Remember our golden rules:

  1. Stay away from flap-style and lazer car washes. These are just THE WORST for your car’s paintwork.

  2. Stay away from hand washes at shopping centres. Their cloths aren’t changed with every car and this can cause scratching.

  3. Frequency of car washing dependson type of car, if its parked inside or outside and whether it’s a daily drive.

  4. “Two-bucket washing technique”is the best way to wash your car.

  5. Book your car in for it’s annual “Shine Up” polish with us to remove what hand washing can’t.

If you have any questions about your car, or perhaps you’ve done some damage washing it the wrong way?

Give our Master Polisher, Lee Whitworth a call (0404 010 956).

Perhaps he can get you out of a bind and get your car looking like its fresh off the production floor.

Or maybe you’re interested in paint protection to protect your car from damage? Check out our paint protection page for more information (or just call Lee).
Thanks for reading… and happy washing!