Keeping your car spic-and-span is a necessary aspect of car ownership. Aside from ensuring that your car looks good on the road, proper car wash and cleaning can also help lengthen your vehicle’s lifespan.

But if you’ve ever cleaned your car before, then you know the task can be quite tedious. The bad news is that there’s no easy way around it—if you want your car looking good as new, then you have to put in the necessary work.

You have a lot of areas that you need to pay attention to, if you want a thoroughly clean car. It’s also best to clean your car in the morning, when the sun’s heat is just about right, so you can use its heat to your advantage.

With that in mind, it’s time to get started on these 10 expert-approved car cleaning steps so you can learn how to wash your car like the pros.

How to clean your car properly

Car wash materials— what to use to wash a car:

  • Your choice of the best car care products
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Two buckets
  • Wash mitt
  • Skinny brush
  • High pressure garden hose
  • Vacuum cleaner

1. Wash away the dirt

The first order of business in a home car wash is to remove dirt on all sides of the car. You can do this by running a high pressure garden hose all over your car’s surfaces.

Don’t forget to clean the undercarriage, wheels, and wheel arches as well, because allowing dirt to accumulate in these areas can leave your car susceptible to rust. Don’t worry about dirt not removed by the water, as it will be taken care of by the next step.

2. Soap the car by hand

When soaping the car, be sure to use two buckets—one with car wash soap and the other with just plain H2O. To soap the car, first dip a wash mitt in the soapy bucket, wipe a section of the car with it, and then rinse the mitt in the water bucket before dipping it in the soap-filled one again.

Don’t use just a single bucket, as you could be loading removed dirt back onto the mitt and end up scratching your car’s paint finish permanently. Don’t forget to get at the inner portions of the door and door frame when soaping.

3. Clean your wheels

Once you’re done with the car’s metal surfaces, use the soapy water to clean the tires. Dip a skinny brush into the soap and clean the openings of the wheels with it. Clean the tire sidewalls this way as well.

4. Rinse your vehicle

When rinsing your vehicle, thoroughly remove all soap and dirt from the surface. Afterward, wipe off the water with microfiber cloth, then allow your car to dry naturally under the sun. If you have an electric blower, you can use it to speed up the drying process.

5. Detail dry

This step is optional, but if you want, you can also apply car paint protection products, such as a spray sealant, as your car dries. You can then wipe the product with a clean and lint-free cloth for a shiny, scratch-free dry.

5. Wax and polish your car

Car waxing and polishing is a process that many car owners leave in the hands of a professional, but you can always accomplish this yourself.

Be sure to use a grit-free wax and a microfiber cloth to protect your paint finish, then do one panel at a time. With your car waxed and polished using the best wax for cars, you keep it looking good between washes.

How to wax and polish your car

6. Polish your plastics

Some cars have a bumper, rearview mirror, and door handle made of bare or matte plastic. If your car has these features, you can use some of the products designed to keep your plastics looking like new after performing your car cleaning at home.

7. Clean glass surfaces

Spot-free windshield and windows are integral to your car driving safety, that’s why it’s important to do this step properly. When cleaning your windows, apply a streak-free and water-repellent window cleaning product to the inner and outer sides of your car’s glass features.

Let the cleaning agent take effect for a few seconds, then wipe it dry with a microfiber cloth. Reapply the cleaner when rainwater no longer forms small beads on your windshield.

8. Take care of the interior

Once you’re done with the outside of your car, the inside is next. Use a vacuum cleaner to suck out all the dirt from the dash, seats, and carpet. It’s important to vacuum your car in this order so you don’t get any sticky dirt from your carpet onto the seats and dash.

Use a shine product to clean and protect the plastics and leather inside from damaging sunrays. If your seat upholstery is the removable kind, take them off and send them to the laundry for cleaning. Here is our detailed interior car cleaning checklist if you want some extra tips to keep the inside of your car clean.

9. Dry clean your carpet

This is another optional car cleaning step, because not all car owners will have the equipment for it. But if you do, then you can dry clean your carpet. Doing so can remove any stain, grit, sand, and allergen from your carpets.

10. Protect your rubbers

Your car’s rubber features, such as its tires, wiper blades, and door seals, perform very important functions, that’s why you need to maintain them along with the rest of your car. Buy a product for rubber protection and apply it to the aforementioned rubber parts.

Additional car cleaning tips

If you’ve followed these car cleaning steps using the best car cleaning products available, then your car is probably looking good by now. Help keep it looking clean and fresh with the following tips:

  • Don’t eat in your car. If you can avoid it, then you won’t have to worry about the stains, crumbs, and food packaging that can make your car a mess.
  • Knock your shoes on the ground before entering your car. This helps loosen dirt particles and prevents them from getting onto your carpet.
  • Don’t let any mess linger. As long as you see a mess, clean it up real quick. If you leave a spill or stain alone, it will eventually become impossible to remove.
  • Keep your car in the garage when you’re not using it. By protecting it from whatever Mother Nature and reckless people can throw at it, your car will stay much cleaner.
  • Keep a trash bag in the car. Jeepneys plying Philippine streets are required by law to have a trash receptacle. But more than just complying with the law, having a place for trash in a vehicle is just good practice, so take a tip from jeepney drivers and get a trash bag for your car.