Although I love a clean car as much as the next guy/gal, before I bought my Corvette Grand Sport, I never washed my car myself. NEVER! Although I cared about how my car looked, I thought that washing it properly would be too difficult (especially since I didn’t have a garage) and that it would cost way too much to get it done as good as a “pro” could. So, I’d bring it to a local hand-wash car wash, drop it off, and return to a shiny car an hour or two later. It was certainly the best (and laziest) $30 bucks I could spend to have a beautiful car every couple of weeks.
(Even in my laziness, I knew to avoid those quickie car wash places that hit your car with bristles, brushes, and those big flappy pads that just *have* to scratch up your car’s exterior.)
In-between washings? I’d just let the car accumulate a little dirt, and since I tend to like dark grey cars with plenty of metallic flecks in it, you could barely tell the car was dirty between washings. I wasn’t terribly concerned with who was performing my car wash, what products they were using, or how they operated as long as my car was clean at the end.
All that changed when I picked up my Vette.
I, one of the laziest car owners alive, suddenly got very concerned about how my car was being taken care of, what products were being used, and how careful the car was being treated. No longer would I allow someone else to give my new baby a car wash… So, I set out to put together the easiest (and least time consuming) way to keep my car clean – and I’d love to share it with you.
Step 1 – Look at your car
You might say, hey, why do I need to look at my car before washing it? Well, when you’re looking to clean your car in the easiest and fastest way possible, a 30 second overview will allow you to complete your car was in 30 minutes!
Honestly evaluating the current condition of your vehicle will guide you towards how it should be treated. A new car or one that already has a good coating of wax (or ceramic) on it, may only need a car wash and wax/shine to maintain it, but an older car, or one that has been neglected, may also need to be compounded and polished as well. (For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume your car is in decent shape and doesn’t need compounding – but I’ll definitely post later with tips on those steps too!)
Step 2 – Choose your products
Experienced car washers have probably used dozens of different cleaning products; some become very brand loyal and others just buy whatever is on sale at your local store (or online). I can’t fault either strategy – most products will provide a decent car wash – some are just a bit better.
Since I bought my car, I’ve tried a few different products from a variety of brands (Adam’s Polish, Griot’s Garage, and Meguiar’s to name a few) and I’ve come up with my list of favorites. You may agree with me on some or you may not, but the products you use can be quite personal – so if you have any absolute favorites, please post it in the comments section below – I’d love to try them out.
Either way, before using any type of car wash product, READ THE LABEL! The application for soap, wax, or detailer varies from brand to brand and you wouldn’t want to ruin your beautiful vehicle by misusing a product. Also, it pays to invest in premium microfiber cloths, shammies, and washing mitts – and keep separate piles for those used on your paint, wheels, and windows. And definitely make sure you wash your towels and cleaning mitts after every use. I wash/dry mine in the washing machine with a bit of regular laundry detergent – but no softeners or anything too harsh.
Some of the products I’ve come to love are:
Adam’s Car Shampoo – Thick, luxurious suds, and a pH neutral formula make Adam’s Car Shampoo the ultimate car wash. The concentrated formula produces more suds with less product and always rinses clean for a spot free finish that won’t scratch or leave water spots.
Adam’s Detail Spray – Just spray this detailer on your wet car before drying to enhance gloss, depth, and shine. A simple wax-free protection that will extend the life of your wax or ceramic and will make your car wash last longer.
Adam’s Wheel Cleaner – Adam’s Polishes Wheel Cleaner is a specifically formulated chemical designed to target heavy brake dust and leave your wheels spotless.
Or, get the Adam’s 4 Piece Best Sellers Kit – Includes, the Adam’s Car Shampoo, Detail Spray, Wheel Cleaner, and H20 Guard & Gloss for a discounted price, perfect for customers looking to start (or refill) their collection.
Better yet, if you’re like me and needed buckets, towels, cleaners, and everything else, get the Adam’s Upgraded Detail Kit. This super kit includes absolutely everything a beginner (or expert) would need to build the best car wash kit on the block.
Griot’s Garage Speed Shine – I don’t go ANYWHERE without this product. Shoot, I keep this product *in* my car at all times! Spray this quick 5-minute detailer on your car any time for a quick glossy shine. It’s like an instant car wash for your car.
If you need some cheap but effective microfiber towels for washing/drying, check out this Amazon Basics 24 pack. They work great, are cheap enough to buy a bundle, and come in different colors so it makes it easier for you to separate the towels for wheels, body, and glass.
Anyways… now for step 3, the actual car wash…
Step 3 – Washing Your Car
First things first – it’s always best to wash your car in the shade, or at least indirect sunlight. This will help keep your car streak and spot-free. As an added benefit, it also keeps you cool and sweat-free! After finding a nice shady spot, you should then spray your car down with the hose or power washer with nice, strong pressure to remove large pieces of dirt, leaves, mud, and bird droppings from the exterior of your vehicle. This will protect you car’s finish, because you don’t want to push these sharp contaminants into your paint when washing. Always use a car washing soap and not a liquid detergent or dish cleaner, which can damage the paint and strip away wax. And always use clean mitts and drying cloths each time you wash your car. (It would really suck to buy all the best products and then use mitts and cloths that will scratch your car anyways.)
Continuing my car wash, I suds up the entire car, using two buckets – one that I’ve filled with about 2 ounces of car soap and have filled near three-quarters with water and a second bucket that I’ve filled with clean water (for rinsing my mitt). I work my way in sections across my car, starting with the roof, and then working my way down each side of my car from back to front. After each panel, I rinse my mitt in the clean water and then re-suds in the shampoo. This way I reduce the chance of rubbing dirt and grime into my paint’s clear coat.
Usually it takes me less than 10 minutes to suds up my car. Then I rinse – again, using the hose (or pressure washer) – starting from the top of the car and working my way down. This shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.
Next, I use my Adam’s Detail Spray, spraying each panel and then immediately drying it with my microfiber towels. This will help reduce streaks and water spots and add an extra gloss and shine to your vehicle. (This step takes me another 10 minutes).
And you’re done! In thirty minutes, you can have a professionally clean exterior. You’ll never visit a car wash again.