Save on an expensive trip to the car wash by doing it by hand. If you’ve got the time, you can even make a family activity out of it! Read on for the things you’ll need, how to do away with the dirt, and how to get headlights clean and clear.
Car Washing Equipment
- Firstly, you’ll need a bucket of water mixed with car soap and something tough but soft to wash with, such as large car-washing sponges or Jif cloths. It helps to have more than one. Be sure to follow any safety instructions on the soap.
- A hose is really useful, but can be replaced by a bucket or two of plain water if you don’t have one.
- A stiff-bristled brush for the tires. Plastic bristles make it easier to avoid accidentally scratching hubcaps than wire.
- Finishing products like wax and polish are optional.
- Finally, you’ll need some old towels, rags or cloths to dry it off.
How to Clean a Car
- First, park the car out of direct sunlight if possible. This will stop the water drying prematurely, which may leave streaks or marks.
- Then get everything ready. Fill any buckets you need, mix the soap, make sure all windows are closed, antenna are retracted (if possible) and windscreen wipers are in their popped-out position away from the glass.
- Douse the car with water to soften and loosen dirt. The hose is best for this, but you can throw a couple of buckets of water over it if you don’t have one.
- Soak your sponge or Jif cloth in the soapy water and begin to wash the car in sections, starting at the top to avoid spreading dirt from the road upwards.
- Once a section is done, rinse it off with the hose or a bucket before moving on. The soap may leave marks if it dries on the paint.
- The wheels and lower body are the dirtiest and grittiest parts, so do these last. It’s best to use a separate cloth or sponge.
- Clean the sides of the tires with a plastic brush. Use a cloth or sponge for hubcaps to avoid scratching them.
- Rinse off the wheels, and dry the car with the towels. It’s best to keep the entire car wet throughout until you dry it to prevent streaks and water spots.
- Finishing touches like polish or wax are optional, but be sure to follow any safety instructions on the packaging if you choose to use them.
Cleaning Car Headlights
Once-clear headlights can often turn hazy or yellow with time. Keeping them clean can become a matter of safety as well as appearance.
- Most headlight haziness comes from oxidation; an opaque covering that lays flatly and evenly on the surface of the lens, starting white then turning yellow and eventually brown.
- Light to medium oxidation can usually be fixed with a non-abrasive deoxidiser. These chemicals can be dangerous, so be sure to follow safety instructions.
- Higher levels of oxidation and other problems may have to be treated by sanding. Sanding headlights is a complex process and can easily cause permanent damage, so it may be best left to professionals.