Should you let your car air dry when you wash it? Is it better to clean from bottom-to-top or top-to-bottom? And does it make a difference when you use a circular motion when cleaning it?
These are just some of the questions that many people ask when it comes to cleaning their vehicles. Let’s take the guesswork out from the equation, and give straightforward answers to the most common mistakes people do when cleaning their cars.
These are the top five most common mistakes people do when washing their cars:
Mistake No. 1: Using a common sponge (and towel)
Sponges might be good for the skin–or even your dishes. But they are not really the best ones to use for your vehicle, especially when lathering your car. The best one to use are specialized microfiber mitts and sponges.
Microfibers–especially the softer ones–are made from polymer fibers. They are a best bet for cleaning your car because they are very absorbent; thus, locking in more cleaning solution. They are also cheap, so you can buy many of them without making a dent in your wallet. This is good–because you need a couple of them when you do your actual cleaning (read Mistake No. 4).
Towels, which are often used for drying, are also a no-no. The best material to use for drying is chamois. Note that this material comes in two kinds: leather and synthetic. The real chamois cloth is made from animal leather, and is great for absorbing moisture. It glides very smoothly, making it safe for your vehicle’s paint.
Meanwhile, the synthetic chamois is made from PVA, which holds more moisture compared to real (leather) chamois. It’s cheaper as well, and can last as long–or even longer–than the real ones (and even microfiber).
What if you don’t want to use chamois to dry your vehicle? You can take out all your worries of ever scratching your car paint by using “forced warm air” or “controlled air”. It sounds complicated, but all you need here is to let your vacuum or leaf blower blow hot / warm air on the surface until the water evaporates.
Mistake No. 2: Cleaning from bottom-to-top
It’s a matter of gravity–when you clean your car from bottom-to-top, you risk letting dirty water run down over the areas you’ve already washed earlier.
The correct way is to clean from top-to-bottom. That way, the dirty water flows down on the ground, and the washed parts remain clean.
Mistake No. 3: “Air-Drying” your vehicle
Sure, it’s cheaper to just let nature take its course and let the water evaporate on their own. However, this can leave water spots on your car’s surface and make it look duller.
The best way is to dry your vehicle as soon as possible after the last rinse.
Mistake No. 4: Using only one bucket
When you use one bucket, you’re just placing back the dirt you’ve taken out from your vehicle right back in. Not only does it make cleaning less effective, but you also risk scratching your paint from the dirt sediments you collected–especially when from your tires.
The correct way to do this is to have at least three buckets to use whenever you’re cleaning your vehicle: one that contains the soapy mixture, one for the actual rinsing, and another one for your tires.
Mistake No. 5: Washing your car in the middle of the day (or when it’s hot)
Washing your car late in the morning (or early afternoon) is a big no-no because that’s when the sun’s heat is at its most intense. And intense heat can dry off your cleaning products faster than you can dry them off.
What’s more, a hot surface can make it easier for water spots to form.
The best time to clean your vehicle would be early in the morning or very late in the afternoon. This is when it’s cooler, and when the sun’s light is at its lowest.
These are just some of the mistakes that many owners make when it comes to cleaning their vehicles. Oftentimes, all it takes is to make small changes to see worthwhile results in the end.