How To Wash Your Car

Step by step guide to washing your car

A task that we’ll all have to do at some point (no matter how much we put it off the car isn’t getting cleaner) is washing our car. You may be thinking washing my car is easy, I don’t need a guide on that. But you’d be surprised at the little things you may be doing that are actually damaging your car. Read on for our guide on washing your car and preserving your paintwork.


  • Pressure Washer/Hose/Bucket
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Sponges/Car washing mitts
  • Detailing Brushes (optional)
Wet Car

1. Pre-rinse

It’s very tempting to rush straight into washing your car with soapy water, but by pre-rinsing, you’re loosening and removing dust, dirt or contaminants that could scratch your car when you start rubbing with a sponge. Start your pre-rinse at the top and work down, going over areas that might contain more dirt, between panel gaps for example, more thoroughly.

2. Pre-wash

Pre-wash helps to remove any contaminants such as road grime and bugs, which stick to your paintwork and may not have been washed off in your pre-rinse. There are many cleaning products on the market specially designed to break down the excess dirt, making it easier to rinse off.

Focus your pre-wash on the lower half of your car as this is where most of the dirt will build up. When looking at smaller and tighter areas such as the grill, door shuts and fuel filler caps use a smaller sponge or a detailing brush.

3. Wash

We always recommend using two buckets, one with fresh water for rinsing, and one with your car shampoo. Work from top to bottom, applying small amounts of pressure and gentle movements to stubborn marks.

The advantage of the rinsing bucket is that it removes dirt and grit from your sponge/mitt that would otherwise be dragged around your paintwork. If you find that the sponge isn’t coming clean when you dunk it into the rinse bucket you may need to run your fingers through it to dislodge any dirt or get a fresh bucket of water.

4. Rinse Down

After you’ve washed all of your car with shampoo, the next step is to rinse it all off. Working from the top again rinse downwards and re-rinse individual sections if needed.

5. Drying

Using a microfiber cloth, start at the top and work down gently, taking care to avoid causing marks or damage to the paintwork if you pick up any debris.

How to clean the inside of your car

Now the outside of your car is shiny and clean, you’ll want an interior you enjoy driving in. As well as making your interior a nicer place to be, cleaning your interior helps to remove any grime, dirt and other contaminants transferred in from shoes, clothes, passengers etc.


  • Hoover/vacuum cleaner
  • Cleaning Spray
  • Glass Spray
  • Detailing Brush (optional)
  • Microfiber cloth

1. Clear out

The first thing you do before can effectively clean is to remove anything that will obstruct your cleaning. Start with rubbish, remove your car mats, any child car seats and other items kept in your car.

2. Door Jambs

An area that is often overlooked or forgotten, after cleaning the outside of your car water and grime can build up in the door jambs. Remove marks and stains and wipe them down with a clean cloth.

3. Dashboard, Door Cards, Trim

When working over the interior use a microfiber cloth or a detailing brush to get the dust and dirt in the tighter areas of the interior. Using brushes with softer ends can help to prevent damaging the interior as some finishes can be easily marked.

4. Hoover/Vacuum

When hoovering make sure you cover any key areas such as cup holders and inside the door cards. Going over areas more than once will ensure all contaminants are vacuumed if they are missed the first time.

When vacuuming the car mats it is useful to use a brush to remove any stubborn containments stuck in the car mat. A cleaning spray can also be used if needed if there are any stains to help break down debris.

5. Seats

When cleaning the seats be careful to use the correct cleaning products for the material of your seats so you don’t damage them. Use a brush or a cloth to wipe down the seats gently working over the area and allowing it to dry.

Car Washing FAQs

Can I use a pressure washer to wash my car?

Yes, using a pressure washer can be quicker and easier. However, don’t spray too close or for long periods against the paintwork as this could cause damage.

How often should you wash your car?

We recommend washing your car at least every two weeks, this will help prevent any damage or discolouration to your paintwork.

What’s the best time of day to wash a car?

The best time of day to wash your car is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Avoiding direct sunlight is best as this prevents your cleaning from drying on your car before you can rinse off.

Can you just wash your car with water?

You can just wash your car with water, but most of the time it won’t remove all the dirt and pollutants you accumulate when driving.

Can you use fairy liquid to wash your car?

Fairy liquid, and other washing up liquids, can break down the wax layers of your paintwork so we’d recommend leaving them for the dishes and getting some car shampoo.

Does car shampoo make a difference?

Depending on the shampoo you buy, many car shampoos include ingredients specifically designs to remove contaminants without damaging your paintwork.

Is it better to hand wash your car?

When done correctly hand washing your car provides a better finish than using a machine, as it allows you to target detailed areas and give a better finish to your paintwork.

How to get tar spots off your car?

To get tar spots off the paintwork of your vehicle you’ll need some form of solvent or tar remover. You can buy specialist tar remover products, or if you have WD-40 at home you could try that.

With both of these products you start by spraying onto the affected areas, allow it to sit for the recommended time (see individual product instructions) before gently wiping away with a microfiber towel. For tougher spots, you may need to rub repeatedly (not aggressively as this could damage your vehicle) or repeat the steps until they have gone.

After you’ve got all the tar spots out give your car a clean, paying extra attention to where the tar spots were, to make sure you get rid of any remaining tar remover / WD-40.