DIY Car Wash: How to Clean and Detail Your Car Like a Pro

do it yourself car wash

Every car owner knows the importance of regular oil changes and engine maintenance.

And while it is vital to take care of the internal aspects of your car, it is as important to keep up with the external or superficial maintenance as well.

If you own a car, you should know how to do two things: change a tire and wash your car.

Aren’t sure where to start?

Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning and detailing your car with a do it yourself car wash.

Exterior Appreciation

Before you wash your car, you should park it in the shade. Parking in the shade will help stop soap and wax from drying onto your car and creating spots.

Once you’ve made sure your car is safe from the sun, you can get to work making it shine like a pro.

If you’ve recently had bodywork done on your car, there are a few conditions you should follow. You can learn more about washing your car post bodywork here.

Wheels First

Your tires are the dirtiest part of your car. Tires collect dirt and debris in their treads, which you’ll need to scrub out to completely remove.

If you wait until after you’ve cleaned the rest of your car to take care of your tires, you could risk flinging dirt and debris all over your hard work. So, you should always wash your tires first.

Wet down your tires with the hose and spray on the wheel cleaner. Then, take a soft bristled scrub brush and scour away all the dirt and debris from the tire and hubcap.

After you rinse the soap away, check to make sure the tire is completely clean. You may need to repeat the process a few times to get rid of everything.


After a while, you may notice your headlights getting a little cloudy. Apart from being an eye-sore, foggy headlights can also pose a safety hazard. Luckily, you can scrub this fog away fast.

First, you should tape around your headlights to prevent any headlight polish from getting on your car’s paint.

Then, you should wipe down your headlights with a damp cloth to remove any debris, then dry them.

While you can find headlight cleaning solution at most automotive stores, you can use a baking soda paste or even toothpaste to get the job done as well.

Apply your headlight polishing solution over the entire headlight and allow it to dry. Once it’s dry, brush the solution away with a soft scrub brush — you can even use a clean toothbrush for this part.

Once you’ve done that, you can wipe any excess away with a damp, clean cloth.

Scrub Down

Despite what your well-meaning neighbor may say, you should never wash your car with dish soap. Car washing soap exists for a reason and using anything else could damage your car’s paint.

Before you start washing your car, you should start by gathering up some supplies.

You should prepare a bucket of soapy water as well as a bucket of fresh water and have a few washing mitts ready.

Soak your car with your hose to loosen up any dirt and debris that may be sticking to its surface.

Once your car is wet, dip a washing-mitt into the sudsy water and go over the entire outer surface of your car in broad, circular motions.

If you need to apply more soap to your washing mitt, rinse it out in the bucket of fresh water first to get rid of any debris before putting it in the soapy water.

Doing this can help protect your car from getting scratched while you wash it.

Once you’ve cleaned the entire surface, rinse all the soap away and check for any dirt or stuck on stains. Use a clean mitt dipped in your soapy mixture to take care of the extra spots.

Rinse your car again and once you’re confident you got everything off of it dry it immediately using clean, soft rags. If you’d like to polish your car, ignore this last step and leave your car wet.

Polish Up

While polishing your car is optional, it can add an extra level of protection and make your car look brand new.

If you’d like to polish your car, you’re going to need to invest in a polisher and polishing pads.

While you can find a polisher that won’t break the bank, having a good polisher will help lengthen the life of your car’s paint job. So, spending a little extra now could save you a lot in the long run.

Before you start polishing your car, you should first wet your polishing pads to prevent burning.

You can either apply the polishing compound to the polishing pads or directly onto your car. Whichever you choose, remember that you should work panel to panel, so don’t cover your car in polish all at once.

As you work, try to maintain a steady pressure, and don’t press too hard as this could damage your car’s paint.

As you work, you may have to rinse your polishing pad to keep it damp and reapply polish as you use it.

Once you’ve finished polishing your car, you’ll need to rewash your car to get rid of any extra polish.

Wax On

Once your car is completely dry, you’ll need to wax it to protect it.

Most car wax kits come with an applicator, so you won’t have to worry about buying a lot of extra equipment.

The trick to waxing your car is to keep the layer thin. Scoop a small amount of wax out of the jar with the applicator and apply it to your car in small, tight circles.

Like with polishing, you should wax your car panel to panel to make sure everything gets covered evenly.

Once you’ve finished waxing your car, let the wax dry just until it hazes over. If the wax dries too much, it will be hard to buff off.

If you’re waxing your car by yourself, you should be able to start buffing the first section you waxed by the time you finish waxing the entire car.

Buff off the wax using a clean microfiber towel in small, circular motions. Once you’ve finished, brush away any dust with an extra microfiber towel.

Your Own Do It Yourself Car Wash

Sure, you could run your car through a drive-through car wash at almost any gas station, but that’s not going to take care of everything.

The only way to ensure the life of your car’s exterior is with a do it yourself car wash. By taking on the job yourself, you can make sure everything from your headlights to your carpeting is clean and healthy.

Looking for more automotive tips? We have dozens of articles to help you keep your car looking and running its best. Visit us today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

avatar compassion project

What is the Avatar Compassion Project?

adobestock 158309243

Homeschool vs Public School: Which is Better for Your Child?