Washing your car is one of the most basic maintenance tasks you need to perform. Doing this includes washing the exterior of your car and also reconditioning and protecting your paint, chrome, and interior.
A simple washing with water is what is most commonly called for. Most of the time your car won’t be very dirty, just dusty from road debris. You don’t need to wash the car with soap when this is the case. Simply wet the car down and use a wash mitt to remove any dust that might have settled on the car.
The best thing to use to dry the car is a 100% cotton towel. Many people use chamois but these have a tendency to trap small dirt particles in their fibers which can scratch your paint as you dry the car. Make sure the towels have been washed at least once, and don’t use a rinse or softener. The softener is an additive that can cause streaks, and it inhibits the towel absorbency.
When your car is really dirty – after driving through snow, mud, or other weather – you will want to pull out the soap. Do not use regular soap or a household detergent. These will take the wax off your paint. Use car wash soap; they are milder and won’t remove the layer of wax that you have on your car.
When you use soap be sure to completely rinse your car. Be careful when doing this that you don’t spray water anywhere where your seals might be cracking. If your car is a few years old your seals for the interior might not be totally watertight. If your car does leak water, place some towels inside the car near the windows, or under the sunroof to make sure that you catch any water before it reaches the carpet and seats.
Dry the car right away once you’re done rinsing. It is best to do the drying out of direct sunlight. If you can, pull your car into the garage and dry it there. Getting it out of the sun is key to avoiding water spots on your finish.
Be aware of how you handle your car towels. Using dirty towels is one of the easiest ways to scratch your paint. Once you’re finished with them, wash them and keep them in a clean area until you need them again. Don’t leave them outside, or if you drop them on the ground, don’t use them again until they have been washed. Small particles of dirt trapped within the towels can cause nasty scratches in the paint. If you happen to encounter a water spot, use a section of a damp, clean terrycloth towel to gently rub it out.