top of page

How to Wash your Car

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

A lot of our customers ask us after we have machine polished their pride and joy "how should we wash our car to avoid damaging the paint and what products do you recommend?" Bellow is a short blog that goes through the products and techniques that will help you keep your car clean and preserve the finish of its paintwork.

Pressure Washer

Ideally you need a pressure washer as the pressurised water will help remove surface dirt from your paintwork and clean those difficult to reach areas such as wheel arches and gaps between windows and bodywork. You don't need an all singing and dancing pressure washer a entry level model will surface, I would recommend buying a branded model such as Karcher or Bigboi as this will have a recognised fitting for a snow foam cannon. However if your budget won't stretch to a pressure washer a garden hose with a nozzle that produces a jet of water will work.

Pre Washing

If you have ever watched any car valeting/detailing videos on social media then you have bound to have come across snow foam! Snow Foam is applied via a Snow Foam cannon on the end of a pressure washer gun. You use Snow Foam prior to the contact (hand) wash the snow foam traps the dirt and then as it runs off the car takes it with it.


You are going to need a bucket to hold your soapy water. Whilst you may think a bucket is a bucket you will require one with sufficient volume to hold enough water to clean even the

smallest car. Valeting buckets are usually around 20 litres in size. Another key feature of a valeting bucket is the ability to fit in a Grit Guard, a Grit Guard traps the dirt and other products you remove from the car during washing, stopping you from picking them up again on your wash mitt and dragging them all over the surface of the car causing those dreaded tiny scratches. You can pick up bucket and Grit Guard sets from Ultimate Finish it is best to have 2, buckets one for your soapy water and the second to rinse out and clean your wash mitt after you have finished cleaning a section of your car.

Wash Mitts

Gone are the days of the good old sponge! In issue 8 of Pro Detailer Magazine they conducted a test to see which type of car wash media was most sympathetic when washing your car. They concluded that a chenille/noodle mitt was the best product. You can pick one up for less than £10 from Ultimate Finish.

Drying Towel

As with the trusty sponge the leather and synthetic chamois is a thing of the past! Due to the flat surface of a

chamois it can pick up pieces of dirt which you will then drag across the cars paintwork scratching it. A drying towel is a large soft towel that soaks up water and due to the thickness of the fibres any stray pieces of dirt are trapped within them stopping them from coming into contact with the paintwork. For more info on drying towels and other micro fibre towels read my previous blog . I would recommend getting an Ultra Soft Drying Towel as they are big enough to dry a 4 x 4 and relatively inexpensive.


Probably the dirtiest part of your car and covered in substances that you don't want on your paintwork so you should always use a separate bucket and cleaning products for this task.

You will need a bucket, grit guard and barrel brush to get in-between and behind the spokes and a mitt or brush to do the face of the spokes. Again you will find all these products at Ultimate Finish

Cleaning Products

Car shampoo. You wouldn't use car shampoo to wash your dishes so don't use fairy liquid to wash your car! Car Shampoo is specifically designed to be high foaming to aid your wash mitt to glide over the surface but most importantly it has properties to remove road grime. If you buy a good product you will find that you will need very little to do the job.

Glass Cleaner. Yes you can use the product you have in the house but I would recommend 2 good quality micro fibre clothes to apply and remove the product leaving a streak free finish. Always spray the product onto the cloth and not onto the surface being cleaned to avoid getting product on the wrong surface.

Wheel Cleaner. You can buy many different types of wheel cleaner such as shampoo that is stronger than the stuff for your paintwork and is designed to tackle the grime that is attracted to wheels, acid based cleaner that breaks down the carbon deposits that come off you brake pads and iron fallout remover that dissolves the brake dust that can eat into your alloy wheels.

Interior Cleaner.

You can use an All Purpose Cleaner (APC) which can be diluted to different strength for different purposes or you can us a dedicated interior product that will have built in anti static properties to stop dust from settling. Other interior products have built in antibacterial properties that kill germs and clean you interior at the same time. Generally you can use the same product to clean all the surfaces of your cars interior.


The above products will get your car clean! But if you want to make it look that little bit special you can apply Dressings! Dressings bring out the best and help to protect the rubber and plastic parts on your car such as tyres and bumpers. Be careful when choosing your dressing as some can leave a very shiny unnatural finish.

Decontamination products. These remove those hard to remove products such as bug carcasses and tar, generally grime that you find in the Summer months or if you are driving on freshly laid tarmac.

Tips for cleaning your car

Always start at the top and work down! The top of your car will be the cleanest part.

Always spray products onto your cloth rather than the surface unless the instructions tell you otherwise.

Never use a cloth or wash mitt again that has been dropped on the floor before thoroughly washing it out.

Never let products dry out on your car as they could stain or start to corrode the surface. Avoid washing your car in direct sunlight. If you have no other option wash, rinse and dry a section at a time.

Take your time and enjoy the time you spend caring for your car, its probably the 2nd most expensive thing you own!

Subscribe to Pro Detailer Magazine for the latest product reviews, tips & how too's and product group testing.

For a 10% discount at Ultimate Finish use the following code POLISHEDSW

43 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page