It’s a Clean Machine

car-wash-01With the economy affecting just about everyone, it’s no surprise people are being forced to keep their cars longer. Now more than ever, it makes sense to take care of the appearance of your car. An easy way to do this is to simply get into the habit of washing your car on a regular basis.

You see, our environment is loaded with all kinds of air-borne contamination. And those tiny particles always seem to have a way of landing on the surface of your car. Of course, washing your car frequently helps to loosen and remove the majority of surface residue before it has a chance to damage its finish. It’s no secret that washing your car on a regular basis is a good way to keep it looking new. Whether you use an automatic car wash or prefer to wash it yourself, it’s very good preventative maintenance.

Washing your car does not have to be complicated. It’s really pretty simple. All you need is a hose with a spray nozzle, car wash soap, sheepskin mitt and a wash pail. Notice I said car wash soap, not dish soap. Yes, there is a difference. Car wash soap has been specifically engineered to help maintain and enhance the painted surface of your car. Dish soap, due to its grease cutting ingredients, can literally strip away any surface protection. The best advice is to always use your favorite brand of car wash soap.

tire-wash-02Car Washing Made Easy

It’s a good idea to stay out of direct sunlight when washing your car. Of course, the best time of day to wash your car would be the early morning or in the evening. I have found that a sheepskin mitt is much safer than a sponge. The reason is simple. Sponges can sometimes trap dirt particles, such as fine grains of sand, which can lead to minor surface scratches. Sheepskin mitts are designed to allow particles of dirt to flow out and into the wash water. That way, particles of dirt are washed away long before they can harm the surface of your car.

Place the sheepskin mitt and a couple of capfuls of car wash soap in the pail and fill until about half full with water. Use the spray nozzle to help create suds while filling. Wet the entire car starting with the roof, hood and trunk. Always wash from the top and work your way down. Using the sheepskin mitt, begin to gently scrub the surface of the roof. Remember to wash and rinse as often as necessary. Do not allow soapy water to begin to dry on any surface. That will help to prevent those annoying, hard to remove water spots.

Tire Cleaning

To avoid surface damage of specialty wheels, make sure your tires and wheels are completely cool before washing. The trick of the trade for thoroughly cleaning tires is to use whitewall bleach spray cleaner. The process goes like this. Prior to washing your car, simply spray the tires with the cleaner while the tires are cool and dry. Allow a few minutes of dwell time. Next, apply a liberal amount of car wash soap onto a stiff bristle nylon scrub brush. Wet the tire and begin to thoroughly scrub the tire with the nylon brush. Rinse and repeat as necessary. Continue to scrub and rinse each remaining tire. Remember, this process is basically the same for all tires including white walls, white lettered and black wall tires. The result will be much cleaner and overall better looking tires.

tire-wash-01Wheel Cleaning

Since many of the specialty wheels on today’s cars are painted, it is very important not to use anything abrasive that could possibly dull or scratch the painted surface of the wheel. The best advice is to use a sheepskin mitt dedicated just for wheel washing. Another word of caution is to stay away from those fancy wheel cleaning products. It is much better to simply stay with something safe, like car wash soap. Gently scrub all wheel surfaces with the mitt and repeat as necessary until your wheels are sparkling clean. This proven process will help you control the quality of your work and minimize any chance of damaging your wheels.

After the wash is complete, make sure you thoroughly dry the entire vehicle. A good quality synthetic chamois works best for this task. Trust me. The synthetic chamois will work much better and last a lot longer than a natural chamois. Dry all windows first, then the hood, roof and trunk, followed by the sides, front, rear and wheels.

Okay, so maybe washing your car seems a bit challenging. In that case, you’ll need to choose an automatic car wash in your area. And the best way to find a good car wash is to simply ask your friends and family. Surely, they’ll steer you in the right direction.

But wait, there’s more. When you’re finished washing your car, always walk around the vehicle and look for holidays. Let me explain. Holidays are those small unwashed areas that somehow get missed during the wash process. I learned about that expression from my father a long, long time ago. Actually, much of my detailing ability and overall knowledge of cars is a result of what I learned from my father. Dad always kept a clean machine, so I guess it was only natural for me to follow in his footsteps.

Enjoy your spring cleaning!

Frank Canna has been in the detailing business for more than 20 years and is the owner of Mirror Finish Detailing, Williamstown, NJ. Visit his website at He can be reached at
Twitter: @mirrorfinish

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