The Complete Guide to DIY Car Washing: Save Money and Keep Your Car Clean

Published by on . Updated on 18 May 2020

Motorist Shiokr Waterless Car Wash Benefits
(Photo Credit: Shiokr)

Nobody likes driving a dirty car, with week-old dust clogging up the windshield and splotches of dirt making the paint look ugly. But at the same time, not all of us have the time and money to get our car professionally cleaned every week.

The solution? Do a DIY car wash! With help from our Complete Guide to DIY Car Washing, you'll be able to keep your car looking shiny and new, while saving money on expensive professional washes.

1. Preparation

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The most important thing for washing your car, of course, is the soap mixture. Use car shampoo rather than dishwashing liquid or baking soda—these are not adapted for washing cars and will damage your paint.

You should also get some car window soap and tyre cleaner, as the windows and tyres should not be washed with the same car shampoo that you use for the rest of the body!

Carwash Mitt

Many drivers use a sponge to clean their car, but what they don't know is that sponges can actually be very harmful to their paint. What you should be using is the microfibre wash mitt that you see in professional car washes. They usually cost below $10, and are much gentler on your car exterior. Plus, they're better at absorbing dirt particles, so you'll get your car cleaned much more efficiently.


If you only use one bucket for your soap mixture, you will be dipping the dirty mitt back into the clean mixture, contaminating the soap and spreading dirt all over the car instead of cleaning it. You should prepare two buckets, one for the soap mixture and the other one for clean water. This allows you to rinse the dirt off your mitt before dipping it back into the soap mixture, so that your mitt and soap remain clean.

2. Washing

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Washing your car under the hot sun is not only uncomfortable for you, but bad for your car! Under the burning heat, water and soap dry up quickly, leaving you with water spots and paint swirls. So position your car somewhere indoors before you start washing. You'll also be making the few hours of washing more bearable for yourself.

Rinse Before Scrubbing

Make sure to rinse your car, either with a hose or buckets, before actually using the soap on it. This will remove any dirt and dust on the surface, making your job easier and preventing big pieces of dirt from scratching your car when you're scrubbing.

Clean the Car Body

Once you're done rinsing, make sure to scrub the car body thoroughly. It's a good idea to start from the top of the car and work your way to the bottom, because the dirtiest parts of the car are those nearer to the ground, so you should clean them last to avoid accidentally bringing the dirt back up to the cleaner parts. Also, be sure to use plenty of soap—you may even want to tip some solution onto the car before scrubbing with your mitt. This will lubricate the car surface and make it easier to rub off the dirt without causing scratches.

Clean the Windows and Tyres

These parts of your car aren't technically part of the body, but it's just as important to keep them clean. For the windows, you may want to use a car window cleaner specifically because normal glass cleaners that you use at home can damage a car window's tint. There's no need to rinse after the window cleaner, but make sure you wipe completely to make sure no traces remain once you're done cleaning!

For tyres, it's especially important to use an appropriate cleaner. For example, a chrome tyre cleaner is generally much stronger than an aluminium tyre cleaner, and using chrome cleaner on aluminium tyres can cause some serious damage. To be safe, an aluminium tyre cleaner is the weakest soap that will not damage any kind of tyre, while still getting your wheels clean.

Rinse Off The Soap

Finally, when every last inch of your car has been thoroughly scrubbed, you can rinse off the dirty soap. It's a common habit to pour the whole bucket of your leftover soapy water over your car after you're done, but that's a bad idea. This just gets soap and dirt all over your car again, ruining your hard work. So make sure you just rinse with clean water, and you're almost done!

3. Drying

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In Singapore's sunny weather, you may be tempted to leave your car to dry by itself in the open air. But this will leave unsightly water spots on your paint. It's best to just use a towel and wipe it down the old-fashioned way, to make sure your car remains spotless. Get a microfibre towel—they're extra absorbent and softer than normal towels, so you won't scratch your car while drying.

4. Add-Ons

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Once you've finished the first 3 steps, your car is cleaned and ready to go again. But for the particularly conscientious drivers who want a car in showroom condition, there are some special measures you can take. One thing you can do to make your car really stand out on the road is to add polish. You can easily polish your car by hand, giving your paint job a deeper colour and maximising its glossy sheen for that extra-shine effect. This is especially effective for darker-coloured cars.

Clean the Car Body

Wax can actually provide more long-term protection for your paint, from the sun and from external elements like dirt or wind. If you wax after polishing, it'll also preserve your gloss. If your car is a bit older and you've started to notice some scratches or fading in the paint, it might be time to wax it to restore protection. Wax can also be applied by hand, but is more tedious as it produces residue that you'll have to wipe off with a towel after a certain period of waiting (usually 12 hours or more). There's definitely no need to wax every time you wash—about once every 3 months should be enough.

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1 Comment

Jia Hao
Yeah, people are spending lots of money for car wash, but they all are thankful to you because of this post. You have given step by step process as well as guideline to clean car and maintain it longer.

over 6 years ago