How to Wash & Wax Your Car

Need tips on how to wash and wax your car? We’ve got you covered. Make your car sparkle and shine with this guide on washing and waxing.

Washing & Waxing 101

Not only does regular washing and waxing keep your car sparkling and shining, it also helps to keep your car’s paint job and body in shape. Dead bugs, bird droppings, and pollution can eat away at paint and metal, which builds up over time to create irreversible damage. Washing your car will help to clean away the dirt and grime that can wear out your vehicle’s body and frame, and waxing will help create a protective coat over the paint. Taking the time to wash and wax your car keeps it looking good, and helps to keep it in shape.    
 

Prep Work

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What You’ll Need

Before you get to work, take a few minutes to make sure you have everything you need on hand:
Hose
• Two buckets (one for soapy water, one for rinse water)
• Car wash soap (always use this instead of dish soap, which can remove your car’s wax coat)
• Microfibre or sheepskin wash mitt, which will pick up and hold dirt
• Absorbent drying cloth or towel
• Scrub brush
• Car polish
• Car wax
• Electric orbital polisher/waxer
 
 
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Tip: Stay out of the sun

A hot, sunny day is a perfect day to wash your car, but you’ll want to stay out of the sun. The sun can dry your car fast, which will leave spots and streaks behind. If you’re going to wash your car on a bright, sunshiny day, park it in a garage or a shady spot before you get started.
 

How to Wash & Wax

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Step 1: Start with stains

Before you wash your car, take a few minutes to pre-treat stains. If you park your car outside, you’ll be familiar with nature’s stain-inducers, including bird droppings, sap from trees and dead bugs. Apply undiluted car wash soap directly to these stains as a pre-treatment to make them easier to wash away.
 
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Step 2: Rinse your car

You should always rinse your car before washing — this will get rid of any dirt or debris that could scratch your car’s paint job. Pay close attention to the area around the windshield wipers, since leaves and dirt tend to collect around there.
 
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Step 3: Wash and scrub from the top down

It’s time to start scrubbing! Make sure you have your soapy water bucket and your rinse water bucket at your side. Start washing at the very top of your car, and slowly work your way down, but don’t press too hard with the mitt — you could grind in dirt that could scratch your car’s surface. You should rinse your mitt often to get rid of any dirt, then reload it with suds. Remember to mist the car from time to time; you’ll want to keep it wet to avoid drying spots.
 
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Step 4: Wash the wheels and tires

Ready to get down and dirty? Once you’ve washed the entire car, it’s time to tackle the wheels and tires. Using a scrub brush, wash one wheel at a time, and remember to rinse off each tire before moving on to the next one. Don’t forget about the hubcaps and mud flaps, too! Once everything is clean, dry the entire area with a soft cloth to help prevent any rusting.
 
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Step 5: Rinse and dry

Get out the hose and rinse your car from top to bottom. Remove the spray nozzle and let the gentle stream of water rinse off any remaining suds. Keep the hose close to the car, but be careful to not scratch the paint. Dry your car as quickly as possible to avoid any water spots. Spread out your absorbent cloth or towel and drag it across the car’s surface to soak up water.
 
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Step 6: Polish

Polish helps to clean, clarify and smooth out the surface of your car. Even better, it can also remove some smaller scratches.
 
Tip: If you’re applying polish by hand, make sure to only use light pressure, as heavier pressure can actually remove paint. You could also use an electric orbital polisher, which is quick and takes the guesswork out of polishing.
 
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Step 7: Wax

Wax acts as a protective coat for your car’s paint, so it’s always a good idea to take a few minutes to wax your car — especially if you’re fond of your paint job. Wax will also give your car a nice, finishing sheen. Choose from natural carnauba palm wax or synthetic wax — both are effective, but synthetic wax requires less elbow grease to remove.
 
Just like polish, wax can be applied by hand, or with an electric orbital waxer. Apply the wax to the applicator rather than to the car itself, and work on one small area at a time. Allow each area to dry, and once the wax looks hazy, buff it off using a microfibre cloth.
 
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Step 8: Clean the windows

The final step is to clean your windows. The biggest challenge here is how to get the windows squeaky-clean without leaving streaks. Like the rest of your car, it’s important to keep windows wet until you’re ready to dry them, so wash one window at a time, then rinse it and wipe it down with a microfibre cloth or newspaper for a streak-free finish.
 
Tip: If you’ve got tinted windows, some vinegar- or ammonia-based cleaning products can cause damage, so clean them using plain water only.
 

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This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

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