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6 Pro Steps for an At-Home Car Cleaning

2019 03 01 Blog Father Son Washing Car

By Erin Thompson on March 20, 2021 in Life Hacks

Is it time to wash the grime of a rough winter off your car? Or maybe you had too much fun off-roading last weekend, and your car has seen better days. Either way, an at-home car cleaning can be a great way to save a few bucks but still get a sparkling clean car.

Sure, you could just get some soap and a bucket and go to town. But, there are some tips and tricks to take your at-home car cleaning to the next level. Lucky for you, we’ve got some of the best ones from our friends at Popular Mechanics here.

1. Wash your car

Sounds easy enough, right? Your car is most likely covered in dust, dirt, mud, and all that good stuff. A good thorough rinse and wash will start your car cleaning process off just right.

There’s this rule out there called the ‘three-bucket rule’ for a car wash. Surprisingly enough, the idea is that you use three buckets during your car wash:

  • Bucket 1: Clean, soapy water
  • Bucket 2: Water to rinse your cleaning mitt
  • Bucket 3: Water for wheels/tires only

Your wheels and tires get especially dirty, so you don’t want to be mixing water from them with the rest of your car. This three-bucket system helps keep things clean and makes your at-home car wash as efficient as possible.

2. Get rid of the stubborn spots

If you have any areas with tougher dirt or blemishes that don’t seem to want to let go of your car, you can use a clay bar. It’ll help to remove those more difficult spots.

And if you have scratches, you can try a compound. Compounds can work on some more superficial scratches. If you have deeper scratches, you may just need a bit of paint.

3. Polish away

The next step is to polish those worries away. If you’ve got a polishing wheel, that’s perfect. Put a slightly damp pad on the wheel and some polishing compound on the car. Be consistent with your pressure and work back and forth on the body of the car. Easy peasy.

4. Waxing time

Yes, wax does make for a shiny car, but it’s also important because it adds an extra layer of protection for the paint. Make sure your car is dry when you wax, and keep your coats as thin as possible. It can take a while for the wax to dry, so check your label for how long you should wait between coats. It’s usually between 12-18 hours.

5. Window cleaning

Instead of the regular Windex, there are options out there that are car-specific window cleaners. These can help protect your window tint and just work a little better on car windows. A microfiber towel meant for cleaning glass will be your best friend for this step.

6. Wash the wheels

Wheels take on most of the dirt since they’re on the ground doing all the hard work. A wheel-specific cleaner is ideal for getting rid of that tough grime that builds up. Look into the type of metal your wheels are made of and get the correct formula. Once you’ve done a good scrub, you can use wheel polish and a coat of wax to top them off.

It’s cleaning time

We’ve given you the steps, so now all you need is the time. Find a free day on the weekend to get that sparkling clean ride you’re dreaming of. Next weekend you can focus on cleaning the inside of your car, and you’ll be like a brand new person.

Erin Thompson is the Marketing Manager for Say Insurance. She's responsible for guiding the strategic direction of all Say marketing campaigns. Prior to joining Say, Erin worked for a media agency based in Columbia, MO. She spent several years developing successful advertising campaigns for a diverse set of clients across the United States. Erin began her career in television advertising after earning her Master’s from the University of Missouri Journalism School with an emphasis in Strategic Communication. Her love of communication and helping people directed her to the insurance world.