How to wash your car in under 20 minutes | AutoGuru
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How to wash your car in under 20 minutes

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Updated 30 Apr 2020

Joel Ilton

Washing your car’s paintwork is one of the easiest ways to look after your car.

As the saying goes, “A clean car drives better” and it doesn't take much effort to get your wheels looking like it did the day it rolled off the showroom floor.

If you’re not sure where to start, your friends here at AutoGuru have put together a ‘How-To’ article and video to show you the ins and outs of cleaning and maintaining your vehicle’s paintwork.

Before you get started, it’s best to clean the wheels, tyres and arches before washing the paintwork - cleaning these after washing the paintwork can flick dirt back up onto the surface, negating all your hard work.

If you’re not sure how to clean the wheels and tyres, we have a video guide and article to show you how to do that too.

Step One

Before we get into washing the paintwork, you want to make sure you have all the correct tools and products to get that paint squeaky clean.

Some of these products are nice-to-have items such as the pressure washer and foam cannon, but if you do not have access to these, then a normal garden hose and nozzle will work.

The main products you need include:

  • Car Wash or Wash and Wax
  • Two separate buckets with Grit Guards
  • Two wash mitts (avoid foam sponges, as they can damage paintwork)
  • A pressure washer or garden hose and nozzle
  • A foam cannon (optional)
  • A large microfibre drying towel
  • A detail spray or drying aid (available from most auto parts stores)
  • A wax or sealant (optional)

Step Two

Once you have all the products ready to go, it’s time to start washing the paintwork.

Fill the foam cannon with car wash (following the instructions on the bottle) and water.

Using the pressure washer and foam cannon, or just a garden hose if you don’t have these items, spray the vehicle from bottom to top with the soapy mixture or water until the whole car is covered.

Let this dwell for a few minutes and use this time to fill up your buckets - one with clean water and one with your soapy mixture.

Step Three

Starting from the top of the car, use one of your wash mitts to clean the paintwork, moving the mitt in straight lines, and flipping it as it builds up with dirt.

Once you have finished a panel or two, take your mitt and rinse it in the clean water bucket. This removes any dirt out of the mitt and stops cross contamination with your soap bucket.

Repeat the process for the top part of the vehicle, rinsing and reloading the mitt with soapy water as required. Once you're happy with the top half of the car, swap to your second mitt and focus on the lower half.

This area is usually more dirty than the top, so ensure to flip your mitt and rinse as often as needed.

Step Four

Now that you’ve finished washing, it’s time to rise off the vehicle.

Grabbing your pressure washer or garden hose, rinse the soapy solution off from top to bottom, making sure to get into all the panel gaps to ensure soap doesn’t dry and leave any residue.

Once fully rinsed, a sheet rinse can be performed to remove the last of the water. Then, grabbing your detail spray or drying aid, follow the instructions to apply and follow up with your drying towel.

The detail spray or drying aid will help safely remove any missed dirt without scratching the surface. Dry the vehicle completely, making sure to clean the mirrors and other overhanging parts.

Step Five

Once drying is complete, walk around the vehicle to make sure you haven’t missed any spots.

If you notice any marks, reapply your drying aid or detail spray and follow up with a quick wipe of your towel. To go that extra step, you can now apply a wax or sealant to the paintwork to really make it shine!

And there you have it! A quick and easy guide to cleaning your car’s paintwork safely and efficiently.

Carrying out a clean once a fortnight will make your vehicle even more enjoyable, and show everyone how well you look after your pride and joy.

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Written By

Joel Ilton

Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.

After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.