How to Wash Your Car the Right Way

Tips to Keep Your New Car’s Paint Job Looking Great

Clients always ask us what is the best way to keep their car looking just like it does when it leaves our body shop.  The answer is simple- the car wash.

Washing your car might seem an easy mundane task, like washing your hands.  But just like washing your hands, there is a right way and wrong way to do things.  The wrong way insures that you will be at the paint shop sooner than you think it can lead to scratching, streaking, and maybe even rust..  BUT, If you take care of the way you wash your car, you can keep it looking like new for a really long time.  This in turn will save you time and money.  And let’s be honest, driving a nice looking car is cool too!


First thing is first, before washing your car, start with the inside, vacuum and clean thoroughly inside and whenever possible use eco-friendly products.

After the inside is nice, clean, and smelling fresh, not like a ton of chemicals (*cough), it’s time for the outside.

The best way to wash your car is with a bucket and hose.

Get Your Supplies Ready

  1. Water hose.  If you are using a high-pressure hose, be sure to adjust it so it won’t damage the paint and protective coatings of your vehicle.  Don’t forget to conserve water.
  2. Soap. Use eco-friendly liquid car wash soap.
  3. Use lamb’s wool mitts to trap dirt within the fibers and keeps it away from the paint.  We recommend using two buckets and two mitts.  One bucket and mitt for the lower part of your car, the wheels and rocker panels.  And the other bucket and mitt for the upper part of your car.  Make sure you wash from top to bottom.
  4. Washing Area.  Whenever possible wash your car on top of a grassy area to minimize runoff.  Under the shade, early morning or late afternoon is preferable.


Don’t Scratch.  Resist the temptation of scratching the bird-poop, tree sap or other nasty stuff off the top coat of your car.  But remove immediately, if left to harden, they will be a pain in the neck to remove and can permanently damage your paint finish.

Easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Prewash (Debugging).  First soak the area, leave a wet towel on top of the affected area for a couple of minutes to looses up the gunk.
  2. Wash.  Washing one section at a time, use a premium soft cleaning towel/sponge, mild soap or cleaning solution* and water.  Remove gently, don’t scrub hard or in circles, wipe gently following the contours of your car. *Test solution/soap on a door jamb before use.
  3. Wash Again.  Cleaning solutions and mild/hard soaps should be removed completely and immediately afterward with a soft soap and water.  Give your car a final rinse.

Dry the car a synthetic chamois or a waffle-weave chamois.  And you’re done!

Detailing 101

  1. Wash and dry.  Wash and dry your car thoroughly.
  2. Clay bar.  After washing, with a clay bar and lubricating spray, remove surface imperfections and contaminants.
  3. Polish.  Time to shine, polish the paint with a non-wax polish.
  4. Wax.  The final protective coat, wax, will guard against oxidation and etching from airborne contaminants.
  5. Details. Don’t forget the wheels, tires, windows, plastic, trim, chrome, convertible and fabric tops, the interior, carpet, leather, and under the hood.  When you are cleaning around the engine, it’s best to use a wet rag and plenty of elbow grease.


MOBILE DETAIL.  Hire a mobile detail, they can clean the inside and wax your car too.

CAR WASHES.  If you have no choice, go to a car wash that use the curtain like strips that jiggle side to side.  Of use a coin-op car wash for the initial wash and rinse, but use a spray bottle filled with filtered or distilled water for the final rinse before polish or wax.  The reason for this is because coin-operated self-serve car washes use reclaimed water that leaves a film all over your car and can leave it looking dull or hazy.  Car washes with brushes can cause some degree of scratches and can chip paint.  Touch-less car washes use harsh chemicals to get your car clean.  If your car is black, avoid car washes at all costs.

“Excellent paint job on my 11 year old BMW front bumper! They even buffed my headlights. Thanks for your thorough job.”

-Michael A., 2/17/2019

Thank you for taking the time to read this page.  

As of January 2022 we have some good news and some bad news…  

The BAD NEWS is we have moved out of our location and are in search of a new home for the West Coast Body and Paint shop.  

The GOOD NEWS is that we have a West Coast Body and Paint mobile paint repair service unit that will come to you!  The mobile paint unit provides auto services for minor body and paint repairs.

Our estimates are free.  Once we receive your images we will provide you with an initial estimate.   The estimate is a ballpark figure, and after we assess your vehicle’s damage in person, we will review the estimate with you.  If you agree to the final estimate, we will begin repairing your car.  Fill out the form below or contact us through WhatsApp to request an estimate.


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Have I missed anything?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  If there is something you want me to write about let me know, I will do my best to write about it.  If you ever need any auto body or paint work and you live in the Van Nuys or Los Angeles area call or text me 818.793.7728.

-Jaider, West Coast Body and Paint owner.

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