Over the holiday break, I finally had enough time to do the little chores I’ve been putting off. My car was utterly filthy, and so cleaning it was on the top of the list. I generally use this one random brand of soap my father has in his garage, but this time I put my big boy shoes on and went to the store to purchase my own. This forced me to do some research and here are a few tips I found on what to use and a few general tips to be aware of when washing your car:
Which Cleaning Product to Use
Most standard car wash soaps are specifically designed not to be so harsh. While it is okay to use Dawn or any other standard dishwashing soap, you will need to wax the car after it. Dishwashing soap is great for removing wax, but not for a normal quick wash. Be very aware of this or you could strip the clear coat off your car, eliminating that nice shine we all have come to love.
Even the manufacturers of Dawn have specifically stated: "Your car's surface and the dirt that gets on it are a lot different from the food soils and dishes that dish washing liquids clean effectively. We don't recommend them for cleaning your car."
Washing the Wheels
Your wheels may have a different kind of finish on them than the rest of your car. To be on the safe side, choose a cleaner that’s labeled as safe for use on all wheels. It may be wise to use a different wheel cleaner that is a bit strong to remove all of the sand, brake dust, and other debris that accumulates in your wheel well.
Don’t Use a Swirling Motion When Soaping Up Your Car
While Mr. Miagi wanted Daniel-son to wax-on/wax-off in this motion, it can create light, but noticeable, scratches called swirl marks. Consumer Reports suggests moving the sponge lengthwise across the hood and other body panels.
Immediately Remove Any Bird Droppings
Once your car is nice and clean, make sure the next time that pesky pigeon leaves a dropping on your car to immediately wipe it off. The chemicals in bird poo strip away your clear coat. It’s highly recommend that if you don’t have time to wash your entire car, take a wet rag and wipe off any droppings as soon as you notice them.