Dos and Don’ts at the Car Wash

When you’re at the car wash, safety, efficiency, and a sparkling-clean finish should be your top three goals. To help you accomplish this, we’ve pulled together a list of car wash dos and don’ts that will make your next visit the best it can be.

Things to Do at the Car Wash

  • Dress Appropriately: We know this sounds like a pretty unimportant step, but if you’ll be going to a self-service car wash, you want to look the part. Loose, comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes are best, as are non-slip shoes that won’t be a hazard around all that soap and water. You’ll also want to make sure any zippers, metal buttons, belts, and jewelry won’t accidentally scrape the paint job while you stretch for those hard-to-reach places.
  • Work from Top to Bottom (Except for Tire Wash): The universal rule of car washes is to work from the top to the bottom. This way, you won’t run the risk of scrubbing away all the dirt on the bottom half only to have dirty water and debris from the top half cascade down. The one exception to this is the tire wash. Apply this first so that it has a chance to work into your tires while you attend to the rest of the car. The result will be a much easier—and more successful—clean overall.
  • Invest in Microfiber Towels: It’s a good idea to keep a pack of microfiber towels in your trunk. Not only will these come in handy if there’s a spill in the car, but they’re ideal for drying your car after a wash without damaging the paint job.

Things Not to Do at the Car Wash

  • Put All Your Trust in Water: The high-powered spray is effective in knocking loose all the dirt particles that gather over time, and you can achieve quite a bit in a short time with a good hose-down. However, nothing can compare with the results of soap, scrubbing, and a careful wax finish. A quick rinse is fine when you’re in a hurry, but don’t forget to do a more thorough clean on a regular schedule.
  • Wash a Hot Car: High temperatures aren’t a car wash’s best friend. When the sun is high and the thermostat soaring, your car will dry too quickly and leave water spots behind. Choose a mild day for the wash or get your car washed somewhere with a structure that provides shade.

Wait too Long Between Washes: You shouldn’t be able to write “Wash Me” in the back windshield before you hit the car wash. Although a build-up of dirt and road gunk is a good sign that it’s time you wash your car, it’s better to stay on top of regular maintenance and cleaning. Not only will the car wash be faster if you don’t have to scrub for fifteen minutes, but you’ll also be preventing dirt from working inside and gumming up the engine. You’ll be doing your car’s resale value a favor.