9 Rookie Mistakes To Avoid When Cleaning Your Car

One might think that cleaning and detailing your car should be a simple process, one you can do with a rag and a bucket of soapy water but, in reality, if you’re not careful about how you wash it and what you use to wash it, you can end up doing a lot more harm than good. As such, here, we’re going to look at some of the most common mistakes people make when washing their car, and the alternatives to those mistakes.

Relying on automatic car washes too often

If your car is caked in mud, dirt, debris, or the like, then an automatic car wash can be as good as getting all of it off and leaving your car sparkling. Of course, it’s also great as helping you save effort and time, letting you sit and wait for the machines to do the job. However, as with all things automated, if you’re not careful, you could be missing the attention to detail needed to do a job right. In this case, the agitator pads, scrubbing brushes, and more that make up the automatic car wash can be overly abrasive on the paint of the car. What’s more, a lot more dirt remains on those brushes from other cars than you might think, so you may have to find yourself following up with a wash at home, anyway.

Using a sponge

Sponges might seem like the best tool for the job, given that you can use them to wash things like ceramic and metal pots in the sink without any issue. What’s more, they are, simply put, the most widely available and easily accessible tools. However, sponges can leave scratches behind, especially if you have to apply enough force to remove dirt or debris that is stuck to the surface. Instead of a sponge, you should find the right wash mitt to serve as your new car-washing tool. You have to choose the right one, but most decent wash mitts are made of soft materials specifically designed not to wear the paint on the car, while still being effective at removing dirt and grime.

Using chemicals to wash it down

There are a lot of people who use chemicals to wash their cars down. This can include anything from household soap and water to more abrasive cleaning chemicals that, while they might be good at removing dirt and dust, can also strip the car to some degree, as well. Chemical cleaning can damage the paint of the car, or even the components if it gets on, as can sandblasting. Alternatives such as ice blasting are much less abrasive than sandblasting and given that it’s using water, primarily, it’s not going to do any damage to the paint currently on the car, but it is still as effective as needs be. Ice blasting is an occasional treatment, otherwise, you should be washing simply with water and a cloth.

Cleaning in direct sunlight

You might be aware that you should not leave your car in direct sunlight for too long, as it can cause certain materials, such as the upholstery inside, to begin to fade. However, you should avoid washing the car beneath the direct sunlight if the day is very sunny or hot. While it might seem like perfect weather to splash around some cold water, the sun constantly dries the water that you’re applying to the car, meaning it can’t soak into the dirt that you’re trying to clean, making it harder to wash in the first place. If you want to wash your car while the weather out is nice, be sure to do it in the shade, or do it closer to sunrise or sunset.

Using regular towels to dry the car

If it is a relatively sunny day, then you could use the sun to dry off the car after washing it in the shade, providing that you don’t leave it out in direct sunlight for too long. However, if you end up having to dry it yourself, be sure that you’re careful what you wash it with. Using regular towels or other rags to dry your car is going to end up leaving watermarks on the car. What’s more, a lot of people don’t wash towels if they’ve used them to dry cars, which can leave them covered with traces of dirt that you end up wiping back onto your car in the future. It’s best to use only microfibre towels with your car. Aside from the fact they’re more absorbent than regular towels, they can pick up more impurities, as well. Just be sure to wash them after each use.

Not waxing your car

To some people, it might look like waxing the car is going too far, doing more than is really necessary. However, if you hose your car down after washing, and you see that the water beads on it are stretching out, becoming a sheet of water, or are overly large, as opposed to quarter-sized (or lower) beads, then your car needs a new coat of wax. If you don’t provide it, it will start to become more susceptible to corrosion and scratches. Waxing your car is vital for keeping your paintwork looking brand new, so make sure that you find the right wax for your car. Just be careful not to overwax your car, as well, as this can end up dulling the shine of your car a good deal.

Leaving your tyres to last

In general, washing from the top of the car to the bottom is the best way to make sure that you don’t have to wash any part of the car twice, as gravity can shuffle dirt and debris further down the car as you are working. However, this does not apply to your wheels and tyres. You should be cleaning your wheels and tyres before you clean other parts of the car. For one, they tend to attract more dirt than other places and, as such, while cleaning them, you are almost guaranteed to dislodge some dirt and cause it to stick somewhere else, which can be very annoying indeed if you’ve already cleaned that part. Spray your tyre cleaning fluid onto your wheels and tyres when you first start washing the car, and it will give it plenty of time to lift the dirt, allowing you to wash it off by the time you get down to that level.

Not having multiple buckets and cloths for cleaning

Even if microfibre cloths and washing mitts tend to be better for your car than towels or rags, you should make sure that you’re not using the same one to clean surface after surface. If you do that, you can end up simply transferring dirt from one surface to another, rather than getting the proper clean that you were aiming for. Similarly, you might have a bucket of water there to dip your cloth or mitt into, washing it every now and then. However, you should, in reality, have two buckets, one that is used to wash off your cloth or mitt, and another that is used to apply clean water to it. Otherwise, you’re just washing with dirty water after a while.

With the tips above, hopefully, you should have a good idea of how to keep your car looking spotless and as close to new as possible, without leaving any potential for underlying damage. If you want more detailed advice on how to maintain your car, it might be worth getting a professional to help, as different cars come with different needs.

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