Nothing is more satisfying for a gear-head than a DIY car wash and detailing a car at home. While there are people who prefer the convenience of a car wash, many of us prefer cleaning and detailing our cars painstakingly by hand to get that perfect finish.
As fun as it is to maintain your car, it can get a bit overwhelming for people who are new to vehicle detailing. Therefore, to make life easier, we have put together a list of 4 things to remember for an Epic DIY car wash.
Areas to Address
When you’re doing a DIY car wash, you should always go all-in; clean up the body, detail the interior, clean the engine bay, and conduct some basic maintenance.
While detailing a car at home, it’s best to visually divide the car into four sections:
- Exterior body panels.
Let us go over each of these separately to make it easier for you to follow along.
Detailing the Exterior
Going over every inch of your car with a hose isn’t enough to make your car sparkle. Instead, you need to follow a routine that will make your car shine, reduce the chances of rust, and protect the paint.
Here are some things that you’ll need:
- Water hose.
- 2 buckets.
- Sponges and microfiber towels.
- Medium-stiffness brush.
- Car wax.
- Snow foam solution.
- Wheel cleaner.
- Car cleaning solution.
Step 1: Wash the Wheels
Always start with the wheels when you start your DIY car wash. The wheels are the grimiest parts of the car and can make or break its look if you don’t keep them clean.
Use a good wheel cleaner and a brush to clean the dirt from your wheels. Keep cleaning them with a microfiber towel till you can get them to shine. Then, for the perfect finish, you can use a wheel cleaner.
You can also use a rubber protectant for your tires if you want them to look new and prevent the sidewall from cracking.
Step 2: Snow Foam
We have all seen those mesmerizing videos of people applying snow foam to their cars on social media. Now it’s time to do the same for your car!
Dilute the concentrate with water, put it in a pressure washer, and cover your car with snow foam. For the best results, hold the snow foam gun around 3 feet away from your car’s body and let it sit for around 5 minutes to allow it to break the dirt on your car’s body.
Ensure that you cover every inch of the car with the foam but point the pressure washer downwards when applying it to the windows to prevent it from getting inside the car.
After the snow foam has done its job, rinse it off. Never try to wipe it off or use it as a contact wash since snow foam does not contain any lubricant and can scratch your car.
Step 3: Getting Hands-On
Now that you have rinsed your car grab 2 buckets. Fill one up with clean water and the other with a diluted car cleaning solution. Rinse the sponge in the water before covering your car with the soapy goodness from the other bucket.
Wash your car gently to prevent scratching the body panels, and rinse off the soap after working on a part. Your car’s paint is porous and can absorb soap, so avoid leaving it on for prolonged periods.
Step 4: Drying the Car
You’re one step closer to the finish line! Dry your car off using smooth and gentle motions using a microfiber towel. Working one panel of the car at a time. Use more than one towel, and work from the top down.
Step 5: Waxing
Congratulations on making it so far into your DIY car wash! The next step to detailing a car at home is waxing it. Whether you choose to use hard or liquid wax, always ensure that your car is dry, and use the minimum force you can.
You can choose to do a hand or machine wax your car. While machine waxing ensures better results, you can seriously damage the paint if you aren’t familiar with the process.
Waxing your car helps protect the paint so that it doesn’t fade, and prevents harmful effects of the sun and weather.
Step 6: Cleaning the Windows
Use any reputable glass cleaner to get rid of any dirt on the windows. Remember to clean both the inside and outside of the window to ensure that you get rid of all the dirt. Use the same technique on the side mirrors so that you have maximum visibility while driving.
Cleaning the Undercarriage
What’s the point of a DIY car wash if you don’t clean the car’s undercarriage? Take a pressure washer and set it to low pressure to spray foam and clear out the dirt from the undercarriage.
After 5 minutes, rinse off the undercarriage with clean water. Cleaning the car’s undercarriage is an essential step that many people overlook. You should at least wash your undercarriage 4 times a year to get rid of salt and other grime that can make your car rust, especially in northeast or rust belt states.
When you clean your car’s exterior, it feels like it drives better. Imagine how much smoother it would feel after a thorough engine detailing session! Here is how to detail your engine:
Step 1: Pop the Hood
Cool down your car by popping the hood and letting it cool down. Not only can a hot engine burn you when you’re working on it, but cold water can damage it.
Step 2: Remove Plastic Covers and Degrease
Remove all plastic components and wash them off. Next, generously spray a degreaser to get rid of any gunk in the engine bay, and then wipe it off.
Step 3: Rinse
Carefully rinse the engine with low-pressure water to prevent any damage to the electrical components. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, you can always wipe it down with a wet towel, followed by a dry one.
Step 4: Maintenance Check
This is the perfect opportunity for you to check your washer and brake fluid, air and oil filters, engine oil, coolant, and battery fluid (if you don’t have a dry battery). Also, if you have a race car, don’t forget to top up that sweet blinker fluid!
One of the most fun parts of a DIY car wash is interior detailing. While you should regularly clean the inside of your car, proper detailing is something that you should do twice a year to keep your car looking new.
Detailing also prevents any ants or pests from breeding in your car if you often eat in it. To make it as easy for you, we will address frequent and in-depth maintenance too!
You will need a:
- Vacuum cleaner.
- Canned upholstery cleaner.
- Microfiber towels.
- Interior Detailer.
- Soft paintbrush.
You should conduct basic maintenance once every 2 – 3 weeks to prevent any build-up.
For routine maintenance, wipe off the interior thoroughly with a damp microfiber towel and eliminate any clutter that doesn’t belong in the car. You don’t need to vacuum your car for regular maintenance unless you go to the beach often.
Take out your floor mats and give them a good shaking to get rid of any dirt on them or trapped between the fibers. Then, make a judgment call to figure out whether you need to vacuum the carpet. If it seems dirty, then go for it.
Wipe down the pillars and the metallic parts of the door to get rid of any dust on them. Next, clean the cabin mirror and the windows if you haven’t done it already when washing the exterior.
Step 1: Vacuuming
Bust out the vacuum cleaner for this one. We’re going all in! Ensure that you take out the mats before vacuuming them and the carpet. Using the proper attachment is essential to reach the hard-to-reach spots while preventing scratches on the interior.
Investing in quality attachments for your vacuum is important because cheaper ones can cause more damage than they’re worth. Use your vacuum to clean the air vents to prevent any annoying debris from flying into your eye as you drive.
Step 2: Cleaner
Use a canned spray foam type cleaner to get rid of dirt in the upholstery and any stains in the interior. Apply it for 5 minutes before wiping it off and repeat as needed.
Step 3: Dashboard, Console, and Doors
Wipe down everything with a damp microfiber towel and then apply interior detailer to any leather or leather-like surfaces in your car’s interior, including the doors. Next, clean out any hard-to-reach dust using a soft paintbrush from the vents and the console.
Clean out the glovebox and ensure that you use a UV protectant on your dashboard and the rear deck to prevent them from cracking due to sunlight.
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Enjoy Your Epic DIY Car Wash!
Congratulations! You have a beautiful, clean, and shiny car that you have protected against dirt on the road. Detailing a car at home is not an easy task; however, we hope this DIY car wash guide helps you achieve the results you want and stand out on the road.