DIY car wash – your car will shine like new again

DIY car wash
DIY car wash

With regular cleaning and care of your car, you can prevent or at least delay some expensive repairs. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally going to the car wash to quickly remove major dirt. However, it becomes more thorough if you do the car wash yourself. We will explain to you in detail here how to wash and care for your car properly.

What do you need to clean your car yourself?

You will quickly find that there is an unmanageable range of cleaning and care products for cars. What is behind the different products and which of them do you really need to clean your car?

  • High-pressure cleaner:  to remove coarse dirt from the car and pre-wash it – this can also be done with a garden hose
  • Car shampoo:  softens dirt and reliably removes it from painted surfaces; can be replaced with water with a little washing-up liquid and vinegar or lemon
  • Flash rust remover:  removes rust in the early stages without damaging the paintwork
  • Polish:  makes the paintwork shine and evens out superficial scratches
  • Car wax/paint seal:  form a water and dirt-repellent protective layer on the paint
  • Plastic care products:  prevent door and rubber seals from becoming brittle
  • Window cleaner:  ensures a streak-free shine on windows and mirrors; warm water with a little vinegar or lemon juice cleans just as well
  • Rim cleaner:  loosens burnt-in brake dust and other dirt that is difficult to remove from the rims
  • Brake cleaner:  removes dirt deposits containing oil and grease; can also be used for other oil stained auto parts
  • Sponges and brushes:  only use products that are specifically designed for car washing (household sponges and brushes contain abrasive particles that easily scratch sensitive surfaces)
  • Microfibre cloths and chamois leather:  well suited for wiping clean and drying smooth surfaces without leaving streaks
  • Polishing cotton:  for streak-free polishing and a rich shine after polishing

The following instructions will show you how best to wash your car with these products.

Cleaning the car – our tips and tricks

To thoroughly clean your car, you proceed in a specific order: pre-wash, exterior cleaning, care and interior cleaning. For each step you not only need different tools and care products, but also fresh water. It is best to work with two buckets of water. You use one for cleaning and the other for rinsing. In this way you work in an environmentally friendly manner and do not have to change the water after each work step.

Step 1: Pre-wash the car with the pressure washer

Car cleaning preparation

Before you start treating your car with a rag or sponge, you need to make sure that there are no dust or sand residues left as they could scratch the paintwork. To do this, you simply rinse your car (don’t forget the wheels and rims) with clear water. You can do this by hand or with a garden hose. However, the quickest way is   to wash the car with a high-pressure cleaner .

Heavy soiling from bird droppings, resin, insects or road salt is best first soaked with wet kitchen paper or newspaper for a few minutes. After that, they are much easier to remove.

Step 2: Wash body

Car cleaning lathering

Now put the  shampoo in lukewarm water  and lather your car generously using a sponge. Then wipe with clear water and repeat these steps if you still see dirt residue. Then it’s the turn of hard-to-reach areas such as the radiator grille, the skirting boards at the entrance and door rubbers.

At the end, rinse the entire car again with the pressure washer or garden hose and gently rub it dry with a microfiber cloth or a lint-free cotton cloth. Don’t forget to treat the door rubbers with a special plastic conditioner once they’re dry to keep them supple and continue to seal well.

Step 3: Clean rims and tires

Clean car rims tires

First remove coarse dirt from the rims and tires of your car with a high-pressure cleaner. Stubborn dirt on the rims such as brake dust or oil residue can be removed with  rim cleaner . Use a rim brush to get into hard-to-reach places. After drying, you can protect the rims from new dirt deposits and stone chips with a special seal.

Tip:  The easiest way to clean rims and tires is to remove them. This not only gives you easy access to the gaps, but you can also rinse the wheel housings and examine them for rust damage. That’s why  changing tires , whether from summer to winter tires or vice versa, is always a good time to clean your car.

Step 4: Clean the windows and exterior mirrors without leaving streaks

Car cleaning window mirrors

You don’t need expensive cleaning products to clean windows and mirrors. Lukewarm water with a little vinegar  or lemon juice removes dirt just as effectively and prevents streaks or water stains from remaining. Again, you should plan two washes – one to remove the dirt, the second to rinse. Finally, use a dry microfiber cloth to make the panes shine.

Step 5: Polish the paint

Car clean paint polish

Of course, the paint shouldn’t have to back down. Once the surface has dried, it’s time for paintwork care. First check carefully whether you can find small scratches or rust film and repair them first. At the end you bring the paint to a high gloss with polish and a suitable cloth or special polishing cotton.

Step 6: Varnish Sealer or Wax

Car Clean Wax Protection Varnish

If you want to make the paint particularly resistant, you now apply an additional protective layer. You have the choice between  hard wax and a synthetic sealant . Both are dirt- and water-repellent, with the lacquer seal being significantly more hard-wearing and lasting longer. For this reason, it is the best choice if you do not have a covered parking space for your car or if you travel long distances every day.

Step 7: Interior cleaning with vacuum cleaner

Car clean interior vacuuming

Now that everything on the outside shines in new splendor, you only have to clean the interior of your car. With the vacuum cleaner you remove the coarsest dirt from the footwell and from the seats. A long, narrow attachment is ideal for vacuuming dust and crumbs from gaps and corners.

Step 8: Clean car upholstery

Cleaning the car Sitzploster foam cleaner

You’re bound to find some stains on the seat upholstery. The best way to remove this is with  foam cleaners that have been specially developed for this purpose. Corresponding products are available for both upholstered and leather seats. For textile covers, you can use a vacuum cleaner to remove stubborn stains. Leather seats must be impregnated after cleaning to keep the leather smooth and supple.

Step 9: Clean cockpit and fittings

Clean car dashboard

There are various cleaning products for cleaning fittings and the cockpit, but warm water with a dash of washing-up liquid also serves the purpose. However, only use very little detergent so that the surfaces do not feel greasy or streaks are visible after drying. You can then spray on a  cockpit spray  with an antistatic effect and thus prevent the surfaces from dusting up again too quickly.

Underbody washing with high-pressure cleaners is better left to professionals

Your car is particularly stressed from below. Small stones and grit, salt and mud stick to the parts and can permanently damage the surfaces or cause rusting. For this reason, the underbody of the car needs special protection. We recommend  professional underbody sealing  in a car wash or workshop. Thanks to the lifting platform and special equipment, the professionals can get into all the gaps much more easily and can apply the protective layer much more evenly with the appropriate equipment than you would be able to do on your own.

Is car washing allowed at home? tips and hints

Car cleaning allowed at home

Before you start your highly motivated car wash, you should know that in Germany it   is only permitted to wash a car on your own property under certain conditions :

  • If your property is concreted over a large area and the wastewater can really only drain into the sewage system and not seep into the ground, you can wash your car at home.
  • In all other cases, you can only use clear water to clean your car. Chemical cleaning agents can get into the groundwater if the water seeps into the ground and are therefore prohibited.
  • You can only clean the body. Engine and underbody washing are prohibited, as oil or fuel residues can come loose and contaminate the soil and groundwater.
  • If you live in a water protection area, even rinsing with water is forbidden.

For the sake of the environment, we recommend that you  drive to a self-service car wash  if you want to wash your car yourself. There, the waste water is collected and cleaned so that no environmentally harmful substances get into the groundwater. Another bonus point is that you can easily rent or share tools such as special cleaning agents or high-pressure cleaners for car washing.

How often do you have to wash your car?

Your car is exposed to a wide variety of weather and road conditions throughout the year:

  • In winter, road salt and split chips leave their mark.
  • Pollen and pollen become a burden in spring.
  • Tree resin attacks the paintwork in summer.
  • In autumn, a lot of dirt ends up on the car with the falling leaves.

 You should clean your car about every four weeks so that the dirt does not settle and possibly attack the paintwork, rims or important components  . But it doesn’t always have to be the full washing and care program. If your car is only slightly dusty, you can wash your car with the high-pressure cleaner and then polish it dry. However, it is important that you always remove coarse soiling from resin, insects or bird droppings as quickly as possible, as they are very aggressive and can irreparably damage the paintwork.

The “big car wash” should be scheduled about every three months, but at least at the  turn of the season . After the winter, a thorough cleaning both inside and outside is just as much a part of spring cleaning as cleaning the windows thoroughly and  getting the lawn in shape .  Paint sealing and underseal are on the  checklist when winterizing the car . You can also protect your vehicle even more from the weather conditions by building a carport yourself . Carports offer optimal protection for your car all year round, regardless of whether it is rain, frost, hail or strong sunlight.

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