How to Wash Your Car

We know what you do. You're standing there at the gas pump, and the pump asks if you'd like a carwash today, and you think, you know what, the car is a little dirty, let's treat it to a nice wash. So you click yes, and you pay like $7.95, and punch in your code and the jets start spraying and the big whirlies come whirling by and eventually you get the green light.

Sound familiar?

We thought so. Well, here's the thing: That's not a very good way of washing your car. The only worse thing to do would be to not wash it at all. But we can help you. Here is how to wash your car.

Park in the Shade

Stay out of direct sunlight if you can help it. The sun will dry out your car too fast, leaving ugly soap-and-water spots you'll just have to wash off again. It's best to work on a cool, shaded surface.

Put Soap in a Bucket

You can use dish soap if you want. Dish soap works incredibly well for this. Too well, in fact, if you're not planning on waxing the car after the wash. See, dish soap is formulated to remove greases and oils, and wax falls into that category. So, again, use dish soap if you prefer, but be sure to get some wax on it afterwards.

Generally speaking, we'd recommend just buying a jug of car wash soap. Dump a few glugs into a bucket and grab the ol' garden hose.

Rise the Car

Before you start in with the soap, give the car a good rinse all the way around it. There are two reasons for doing this: (1) You'll knock off loose dirt that could cause swirl marks if you scrub it into the paint and (2) you lubricate the paint for the scrubbing that is about to happen.

Scrub the Car

With a clean sponge or scrubbing mitt, soap the daylights out of your car. Go in a swirling motion if you like, or don't -- it doesn't matter. Just be thorough about it. Do the glass, too. And the tires. And the wheels. Anything you can see, really. This might take a little elbow grease in certain areas. Pay special attention to the bottom sides of your doors and fenders. Road grime tends to collect in these parts.

Dry the Car

A chamois towel is ideal for this, but there are lots of things you can use. Terry cloth works well, too. Just do make sure you dry the car. Some people like to take it for a spin around the block, but that usually ends up creating little rivers of water and dirt that track along the sides of the car, then dry there.

Wax It

Because you're already out there, and because, let's face it, it's been a while.