Car money saving tips - The best way to wash a car in 7 easy steps

Spring forward this month and give your car a professional clean at home. Now is the perfect time to give your car a deep clean and remove any salt or grit that has built up over the winter months. You may have noticed your windscreen getting dirty quickly from the grit in the road, making it difficult to see through. That’s why we also recommend washer fluid as one of our 6 essential fluids to keep your car healthy.

Man wearing checked shirt washes car with a sponge at home on driveway

If you are feeling the pinch, washing your car at home will help you to save money. On average, people take their car to the car wash each month, spending around £15 a time. You can do it at home for free and can save a huge £180 a year! Not only that, it takes less than an hour to clean and is a great way to take in the spring sunshine.

Is it pointless to wash a car if it is going to rain the same day?

No, it's not pointless to wash your car if it is going to rain the same day. Some people tend to avoid washing it when they know the weather will be bad due to puddles and much in the road, however, you should be washing your car regularly to ensure the paint is protected. You may, however, wish to check the weather in advance as sunny days make for a more pleasant cleaning experience.

Read the following steps for how to wash your car at home

Have you ever cleaned your car only to notice muddy streaks once it's dry? To avoid this make sure you follow these simple steps in the correct order and you'll shine your way through to the summer.

What can I use to wash my car at home?

A pressure washer or hose pipe (optional)
2 buckets
A large sponge
Car soap or shampoo
A clean cloth or towel
About an hour set aside
A clear area on a dry day

Step 1: Start with a rinse

You want to start by rinsing your car down with water to remove any loose dirt. A pressure washer will have the best effect, but you could also use a regular hose pipe set to its most powerful setting.

If you do not have access to either of these, a large bucket of water will work fine. Just bear in mind you may need to do a few trips to the tap to fill the bucket up.

It’s always a good idea to start from the top with your rinse so none of the dirt runs over the cleaner parts of the car – make sure you rinse the wheel arches and alloys at the same time.

Step 2: Time to deep clean

This is where your two buckets come in handy. One needs to be warm water with your car soap – either car shampoo or regular washing up liquid will do the trick – and the other needs to be clean, non-soapy water.

Start at the top of the car with your sponge and use gentle sideways motions to spread the soap across the car. It’s tempting to use swirling motions but this is much more likely to leave streak marks when you’ve finished.

Each time you want to re-soak your sponge in soapy water, first rinse it in clean water so that you don’t put the dirt from your sponge back into the soap.

When you’ve gone over the whole car, you may want to rinse your sponge and go over it again to make sure all the dirt is gone.

Step 3: Rinse again

When you’re satisfied with the cleanliness of your car, it’s time to rinse it again. Do this in the same way as before, starting at the top of the car and working your way down so that you can minimise any soap streaks.

Step 4: Make sure you dry it

Although it’s common to let your car air dry after washing it, this isn’t the best thing to do. To avoid streaks, you want to dry it with a clean towel or cloth before it dries naturally – this is why it’s recommended to clean your car in a shady spot so the sun doesn’t dry your car before you’ve had a chance.

Step 5: Don't forget the doors

After you’ve cleaned, rinsed and dried your car, open the doors and use a soapy sponge to wipe down the sides of the doors, then go over them again with a clean damp cloth and then dry with a towel. This will make sure you don’t get any dirt coming out of the cracks between the doors.

Step 6: Check the wheels

You should have already rinsed over the wheels during your initial rinse of the car, but you want to make sure they’re clean as well.
Repeat the same cleaning, rinsing and drying process used for the rest of the car to go over the wheels to create the perfect ‘clean car’ effect.

Step 7: Wax or polish

If you want to go the extra mile in cleaning your car, this is when to do it. After you’ve thoroughly cleaned and dried your car you can go over it with wax or polish to give it an extra shine and make it look brand-new.

Is washing and waxing your car once a week overdoing it?

There’s a limit to how much your wax can do, so you could end up spending hours reapplying wax coats when the existing one was fine. Too many coats can lead to a build-up of wax and give your car a cloudy, even dirty, look. We recommend cleaning your car every couple of weeks and leaving the waxing to once a month.

Maintaining your vehicle can help save you money

Washing your car at home is just one way to maintain your vehicle properly whilst saving you money. If your car is well maintained you are less likely to need to spend money on repairs. Many people, for example, worry about costs they may incur when taking their car for an MOT when in fact there are simple things you can do to avoid costs. We’ve pulled together 10 ways to help save you money on your next MOT. Maintaining your vehicle needn't be costly.