It is essential to have the proper car wash supplies available when washing and waxing a car; using the wrong products can damage the paint finish. A hand car wash is generally gentler on the paint than an automated car wash, which can sometimes cause swirl marks, especially on dark paint colors. Therefore, hand washing is normally the best solution. Washing and waxing a car should be done in the shade on a cool to the touch surface using products manufactured specifically for automotive use.
- A car wash brush or sponge can be used to wash the car, but be certain to always thoroughly rinse the vehicle before washing to reduce the chances of scratching the paint. Dirt, dust, and road grime can be abrasive to the paint surface, so a thorough rinsing should be the first step.
- Use only car wash soap approved for automotive use. Dish soaps and other harsh detergents can leave a dulling film and may even damage the paint finish. Starting at the top, wash and rinse the roof, working on one section at a time before moving on to the next section. Do not allow car wash soap to dry on the finish. Once finished, give the entire car an additional rinse to remove any car wash soap residue.
- Use a garden hose, without the sprayer attached, to rinse the car and minimize water spots.
- Only use soft cotton towels or automotive style microfiber cloths when drying the car to prevent scratches. Drying the windows first will help prevent water spots on the glass.
- A high quality car paint cleaner can be used to remove environmental residue such as bugs and tree sap, light oxidation, and swirl marks. The majority of these products are designed to be used after washing the car, but prior to polishing or waxing it. Car paint cleaner can also help to restore the look of older, faded car paint.
- Using car polish not only provides additional paint protection but these products are usually made with synthetic wax, which generally provides longer lasting protection than products containing carnauba wax. Car polish is an optional step but for cars frequently exposed to the elements it is worth considering.
- Wax the car using a high-quality paste or liquid wax. Although carnauba wax produces a deeper shine, it must be reapplied more frequently while containing synthetic wax provide better protection but less shine. Some experts suggest applying several layers of wax for a deeper shine and better protection.
Other exterior car wash supplies that may be useful are window cleaner and chrome polish. Window cleaner will remove any residue on the glass after washing and waxing. Chrome polish will clean and shine the chrome while leaving a protective layer. Interior detailing is as simple as using a small, portable vacuum to clean the floor mats, seats, and carpeting and a slightly damp cloth to carefully clean the interior vinyl surfaces. While there are thousands of car wash products available, all it requires is the essentials to maintain a showroom shine.